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Educational aims

This is an introductory programme covering a wide range of disciplines that aims to provide you with:

  • an introduction to the humanities, in particular, the seven disciplines taught in the Arts faculty
  • an introduction to different ways of approaching the subject areas
  • the development of basic skills of analysis, argument and expression
  • the ability to write well-argued essays and reflect on tutor feedback, and use this feedback to improve on future performance
  • an opportunity to enhance your personal development, in particular your confidence to move to Level 2 study.

Learning outcomes

This certificate provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills, and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding

You should be able to show that you:

  • understand what is meant by the humanities and the nature of the cultural insights developed through the study of the humanities
  • understand the approaches used in different humanities subjects (art history, classical studies, history, English, music, philosophy. religious studies) to analyse and interpret works of art, historical phenomena and philosophical argument.

Cognitive skills

You should demonstrate that you are able to:

  • analyse texts and phenomena from different cultures and periods
  • use the language of specific humanities subjects appropriately
  • draw appropriate conclusions on the basis of evidence.

Practical and/or professional skills

You should demonstrate that you are able to:

  • organise your study time in ways that best suit your lifestyle
  • recognise the importance of presenting your work coherently and in appropriate forms.

Key skills

You should demonstrate that you are able to:

  • record information efficiently and take effective notes
  • write an essay with appropriate referencing that shows the ability to analyse and construct a plausible, well-substantiated argument
  • reflect on your learning and use feedback from your tutor to improve it
  • use ICT tools, including online resources and DVD-ROMS, as vehicles for learning.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Your learning will be through exposure to and discussion of texts, reproductions of works of art (including works of music), and reproductions of different sorts of historical evidence. The study materials may be in a variety of media, but will incorporate questions to encourage you to interact with the topics under discussion, practise argument and establish your understanding of the material. Additionally, there will be opportunities for discussion (face to face, online or via telephone) with your tutor and fellow-students, to help you to test out approaches to the various kinds of subject matter.

Your knowledge and understanding will be assessed principally through tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) that require written work ranging from short pieces of analysis to full-length essays. For some optional modules there may also be an examination.

The teaching and learning of cognitive skills in the humanities is closely integrated with the teaching of subject matter. There are opportunities to practise your acquisition of cognitive skills as you work through the study materials, with their embedded questions, and through your assessed work. Written assignments provide numerous opportunities to test out and refine your cognitive skills, and tutors, in their feedback on assignments, have a key role to play in fostering this kind of learning.

The key skills in learning how to learn and communication are, again, integral parts of the teaching and assessment in humanities modules. Study materials include guidance on the use of appropriate academic conventions, and you can practise these in written assignments, with feedback from your tutor to help you to consolidate good scholarly habits.

The use of reflection as a tool for learning is built into the assessment pattern of the compulsory module, and the Virtual Learning Environment provides opportunity for formative assessment that reinforces various kinds of learning, including familiarisation with ICT.

Guidance on the acquisition of these skills is cumulative, and personalised support and feedback from tutors and other OU staff will enhance learning in these areas. Organisational skills are not explicitly tested, but, like the presentational skills, lie behind successful completion of assessment tasks throughout the modules constituting this certificate.