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Diploma of Higher Education in Arts and Humanities - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

This is an intermediate programme covering a wide range of disciplines and possible modules that aims to provide you with:

  • a thorough grounding in the humanities alongside the development of discipline specific perspectives at OU level 2
  • an introduction to different ways of approaching your chosen subject specialism at OU level 2
  • the development and consolidation of skills of analysis, argument and expression
  • the ability to write well-argued essays and other specified written tasks, including work in formal examinations, and reflect on tutor feedback, and use this feedback to improve on future performance
  • the opportunity to enhance your personal development, both in terms of progressing towards a degree in a named subject through OU level 3 study, and awareness of the transferrable skills you have gained in the process of studying the arts and humanities to diploma level.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of the diploma, you will be able to:

  • demonstrate a critical understanding of what is meant by the humanities, and the nature of the cultural insights developed through the study of the humanities
  • develop an appropriate critical vocabulary for the discussion of artefacts, texts or histories
  • begin to develop an appreciation of the importance of context for the study of the cultures of the past and present.

Cognitive skills

On completion of the diploma, you will be able to:

  • apply established techniques to analyse and interpret phenomena from different cultures and periods
  • use and compare critically different approaches to issues and debates within the humanities
  • learn and apply appropriately the language of specific humanities subjects
  • draw appropriate conclusions on the basis of evidence.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of the diploma, you will be able to:

  • plan, monitor and review your progress as a student of the humanities
  • absorb and synthesise large amounts of information
  • demonstrate the ability to present ideas in appropriate forms, whether scholarly or more informal.

Key skills

On completion of the diploma, you will be able to:

  • communicate information and arguments effectively, using the styles and languages appropriate to humanities subjects
  • use written communication in forms appropriate to your purpose and audience
  • develop self-reflective approaches to your learning and progress as a student of the humanities
  • use appropriate ICT tools for your subject
  • develop information literacy skills through finding appropriate sources and resources.

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 your 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 OU level 1 compulsory module, and the Virtual Learning Environment provides opportunity for formative assessment that reinforces various kinds of learning, including familiarisation with ICT. Reflective elements are also present in several OU level 2 modules.

Guidance on the acquisition of these skills is cumulative, and personalised support and feedback from your tutor and other OU staff will enhance your learning in these areas. TMAs and exams test the ability to absorb and synthesise information. Organisational skills are not explicitly tested, but, like the presentational skills, lie behind successful completion of assessment tasks throughout the modules constituting this diploma.

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