Teaching, learning and assessment strategies
Learning is facilitated through the Virtual Learning Environment which incorporates focused conferencing and work spaces linked to specific activities for each module.
The modules are taught through 'Problem Based Learning' techniques. Students are encouraged to extend their own knowledge rather than expect to have information fed to them. Activities are designed to encourage students to work together and to collectively interrogate papers, presentations, concepts, approaches and data. A variety of approaches are taken to activity design, including asynchronous discussion boards and interactive synchronous presentation and tutor-led workshops.
Participation in discussions and other activities is a requirement of the course. It is recommended that students log onto the VLE daily to check messages and to read postings. The most effective mode of participating in such dialogues is to do so in short regular stints of work.
Tutors will encourage students to participate, and will lead them towards the achievement of the learning outcomes. Tutors will give information on the subjects being discussed where necessary, by defining terms or explaining concepts. Tutors will also moderate the discussion and help students to link ideas and comments. Tutors also participate in regular presentations through synchronous presentation, facilitate presentations by other subject experts and host workshops where students work together through exercises and discussion activities.
The programme is delivered through Moodle and through synchronous presentation technologies such as Elluminate. There are also online resources available including the Virtual Library, course handbooks and lecture packs, links to useful external websites, recommended further reading, and recordings of previous workshops and presentations.
Advice and practical information such as study techniques, planning, and preparation for assessment are available through interactive revision sessions and workshops, or through direct consultation with course tutors.
It is an International Academy policy that there should be a preponderance of unseen written examinations in the assessment of programmes. This is to ensure security and reduce the possibility of plagiarism. In these programmes, each module is assessed by unseen written examination and some modules are also assessed by coursework. Written examination questions will be structured to allow students to demonstrate that they have acquired appropriate knowledge and understanding. Intellectual and transferable skills are also assessed using written examinations; including a student's ability to solve problems, interpret facts, evaluate and organise ideas and express them clearly in a written context.
Some modules are also assessed by coursework. This allows a student to create a detailed reflection on particular methodological issues in relation to research ideas that they may be developing. Through assessed essays, students might demonstrate the skills associated with analysis; the selection, interpretation and production of a well-reasoned assignment; or the interrogation of epistemological concerns.
MRes students will also submit a Dissertation which will not only assess their knowledge but also their ability to conduct research through the specification of research problems and questions; the generation and implementation of a workable research design; the analysis and interpretation of literature and data; and the creation of nuanced arguments and inferences.
The assessment criteria for the programme will indicate the level at which these skills have been achieved.
Modules will be formally assessed by unseen written paper examination or by coursework or by a combination of both. In addition, for each module, students are required to complete a portfolio as evidence of having participated in the online activities.
Where a module is assessed by a combination of written examination and coursework, the coursework must be attempted before the written examination and both elements must normally be completed in the same academic year.
In order to pass a module, students will be required to satisfy the Examiners in both elements of the assessment, where both are required. The grade awarded for each module will be based on the weighted average of the mark for the written examination and the mark for coursework.
The overall weighting for the assessment of the awards of unseen written examination to coursework respectively is as follows:
- MRes 63:37;
- Postgraduate Diploma 72:28;
- Postgraduate Certificate, depending on the combination of modules taken, 76:24, 74:26, or 69:31.
The assessment for the dissertation module is by the submission of a dissertation that should not exceed 15,000 words (excluding references and appendices).
Written paper examinations can be taken once a year, normally in May/June, and are held at examination centres throughout the world.