Course and module structure requirements for University of Suffolk awards are set out within Our policies and procedures for delivering our services and responsibilities (uos.ac.uk)
Creating a course visualisation linking modules, learning outcomes and assessment can be a helpful way for reflecting upon how the structure works, exploring possible options available to students, and how these might support their development and future aspirations
Creating a course visualisation linking modules, learning outcomes and assessment can be a helpful way for reflecting upon how the structure works, exploring possible options available to students, and how these might support their development and future aspirations.
Module specifications allow the explicit recording of prerequisites, modules which students must have studied or passed prior to being allowed to embark on the module.
Course content often has implicit relationships such that students will not be able to meaningfully study one topic until another has already been covered. Module specifications allow the explicit recording of prerequisites, modules which students must have studied or passed prior to being allowed to embark on the module.
*Exceptionally, where the coherence of the curriculum necessitates, a mandatory 40 credit dissertation or research project may be permitted and approved at validation."
The frameworks require course teams to designate modules as one of 'Mandatory', 'Requisite' or 'Optional':
Recognising that level four studies within undergraduate programmes are designed to enable a wide variety of students to adapt to Higher Education, and that marks at this level do not count towards final classification calculations, the University allows module condonement at level four, allowing students who achieve marks near to but not at pass standard on requisite modules to have these condoned to a pass mark. In line with this, most courses only designate level four modules as mandatory if there is a very strong reason to do so.
The Block and Blend delivery pattern is a four plus one model whereby each module is allocated a dedicated block of five weeks for delivery. Four weeks of structured learning is proceeded by one week for assessment work.
Here we look at how modules might be scheduled and how learning hubs might be employed to support learning, skills development, and placement learning.
As explored in the Block and Blend basics guide, there is some flexibility in this, and teams are free to employ the five weeks as best suits their students and subject matter.
In this model the year to be divided into six five week blocks for undergraduate provision, and nine five week blocks for postgraduate taught provision, each running consecutively (albeit with breaks for Christmas and Easter).
Each block would be allocated a single twenty credit module, thus accommodating 120 credits in a year for undergraduate courses, and 180 credits for postgraduate courses. Where courses include forty credit modules, these may occupy consecutive or non-consecutive blocks, as is best suited to their content and learning.
In some Schools, a double block model has been developed to allow the coupling of two closely related modules to be delivered in parallel. This is only permitted where the content of the coupled modules is very closely related, and the teaching of the two modules is integrated to form a unitary learning and assessment experience for the students.
In the Block and Blend model of delivery that the University has adopted, learning hubs provide a means by which skill development can be placed alongside students’ module learning. Many skills required of students are not easily developed in the short time provided within a single block, and will be applied within many modules rather than just one.
As illustrated in the diagram below, a learning hub runs at the same time as module delivery in blocks. Each hub will link to module delivery, providing skill development that enables students to complete the module learning and assessment activities. The students’ achievement of the skills and any associated learning outcomes are normally assessed through the modules’ assessment components.
A learning hub could be provided in a number of ways, as is suited to the skill development or learning activity involved. Examples include:
In practice, many learning hubs would use a combination of the approaches, and should all be employing a blended approach to learning.
While we would not normally expect learning hubs to include summative assessment, there may be occasions where pass/fail assessment tasks are integrated into learning hubs for reasons of encouraging engagement or providing evidence of module or practice/PSRB learning outcome achievement.
As noted above, the development of many skills takes prolonged work by students and is often ill suited to inclusion within a single block. Using learning hubs allows this development to be prolonged through multiple blocks. It is perhaps most helpful to consider some examples of how learning hubs could be used:
This list should not be seen as complete and we suspect that there will be many other effective uses for learning hubs within the University’s curricula.
While we would not expect many learning hubs to be active at once, there may be course requirements that can be best met through the provision of multiple learning hubs at a single level. Two illustrative examples are shown in the diagram below.
When course teams wish to propose including learning hubs within their course delivery, their course documentation (particularly their student handbook), will need to explain how the hub(s) will form part of the curriculum. In particular, the following should be included:
The way in which modules are linked to learning hubs should also be clear.:
The School of EAST are trialling a double block model of delivery to best suit the nature of much of their provision. Double block delivery is a means by which a module with significant practical elements can be delivered alongside a companion module with more theoretical content. The delivery of pairs of modules within two consecutive five week blocks (forming a single ten week block) provides more prolonged time for practical skill development, and embeds the application of the more theroetical aspects of the content in the context of the practical work. Where pairs of modules are delivered within a double block, the students' experience should be of a single cognate experience with the two modules' learning activities interweaved in complement to each other.
Sceduling modules in blocks has implications for how optional modules are offered. Effectively, all optional modules will be clustered in as many blocks as the number of options students are able to select. To illustrate, a possible block structure for a level involving four mandatory modules and allowing students to select two optional module is shown below.
In this schedule, students are limited in their choice of optional modules. Students must choose between two modules in block four (A and B) and between the two modules in block five (C and D). This means that students would not be able to take both module A and module B, both module C and module D.
Course teams determining their course structure will need to explore carefully the optionality they offer. In particular they will need to consider:
Many courses, particularly our vocational health related courses, have to integrate significant placement learning within their curriculum. Students time through the year is apportioned between periods dedicated to module learning activities and periods spent in a professional setting. In most of such courses, the periods of module learning do not fit neatly into blocks, and often do not add up to the 30 weeks that are required to accomodate the standard University four plus one model. Consequently, such courses will often need to adopt a modified block schedule in which each block's module delivery time is compressed, leaving much of the learning to take place through reflection and practice whilst the students are in placement.
Many modules in courses with placements will require students to complete a portion of their learning within the placement setting. This learning may be seen as needing assessment as part of the module's summative assessment. However, in some cases, the module's assessment will enable students to demonstrate the learning outcomes, whilst the subsequent learning that will occur through the application of that learning in placement will not be directly assessed, or will be assessed as part of a placement learning assessment document (effectively a synoptic assessment).
Course teams are advised to consult with colleagues in their school with some experience of scheduling block,and to discuss their ideas with members of the CELT team.