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Diploma of Higher Education in Geography - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

As Geography can explore a wide range of real world issues, these topics can be approached in a variety of different ways. This enables students and learners to engage with geographical topics from a range of different perspectives, but also to think through specific issues from a range of different angles. The Geography diploma will develop independent learning within the social sciences, as it aims to develop these functions for the requirements of independent learning at OU level 3 in the degree.

By the end of your diploma, you will have developed skills and competencies to enable you to interpret real world problems from a number of different angles, involving both human and natural environments. This qualification will offer emphasis on the key issues facing the world today: environmental change, urbanisation and global development. You will have been taught a wide range of social science skills, including the analysis of basic numerical data, visual and textual analysis, but also geographical skills associated with mapping data of various kinds.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this diploma, you will have knowledge and understanding of the:

  • key basic concepts, ideas, methods and theories from the discipline of Geography, focusing on the reciprocal relationship between human social systems and environmental processes
  • key roles that spatial and temporal relations play in social, cultural, economic, political and environmental activity
  • way geography's fundamental concern with spatial variability offers distinctive interpretations of a range of global challenges such as poverty, climate change, migration and urbanisation
  • dynamic and extended processes by which places are made and remade over time
  • ways in which limits to, uncertainties in, and contestation of geographical knowledges have implications for policy and practice.

Cognitive skills

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

  • identify, gather, evaluate the quality of and interpret quantitative and qualitative geographical data and information from a range of sources, including recognising the potential limitations of these sources
  • understand, evaluate and manipulate information presented through primary and secondary sources
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of key human geography ideas, concepts and approaches in order to explore and analyse socially and spatially complex problems
  • use a distinctively 'geographical imagination' to devise and sustain arguments concerning a range of global challenges
  • select and apply appropriate geographical methods and techniques to review, consolidate and extend knowledge and understanding of geographical variability and inequality.

Practical and/or professional skills

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

  • recognise and critically evaluate personal viewpoints and engage the views of others with respect
  • interpret and use numerical and statistical information effectively and appropriately
  • develop skills of independent learning
  • learn from feedback and reflect on the process of learning to evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses
  • identify and work towards goals for personal, academic and career development.

Key skills

On completion of this diploma, you will be able to:
  • accurately and effectively communicate, formally and informally, geographical information and ideas in a variety of ways suitable for a range of audiences
  • select, analyse, present and communicate geographical information using ICT effectively and appropriately
  • plan, conduct and present an independent investigation of a geographical issue
  • work effectively with other learners in group situations to achieve joint outcomes.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding are acquired at all levels through distance learning materials, including module-specific text materials, study guides, assignment and project guides; by a range of multimedia materials; through work on information sourced outside study materials (whether electronically or otherwise); and through correspondence tuition.

OU level 1 modules provide an interdisciplinary basis for undergraduate study and are strongly focused on developing study skills and general academic skills as well as exploring a range of social science subjects including politics and environment. The core knowledge and understanding of Geography are delivered at level 2. There is progression from OU levels 1 through 2 modules in terms of both the extent to which guidance for students is directive and the range and complexity of the material, concepts, models and theories covered. Assessment at OU levels 2 is by means of tutor-marked assignments and examinations or end-of-module assessments.

The teaching and learning of cognitive skills is embedded in module content at all levels of study. OU level 1 modules focus on generic cognitive skills appropriate to interdisciplinary undergraduate study; basic skills development is heavily supported through the teaching material, and assessment and feedback is oriented towards skill development. At OU levels 2 more advanced cognitive skills are progressively developed: skills development takes place both within the compulsory modules, and between levels 1 and 2. Assessment is closely linked to skills development. At OU level 2 cognitive skills are assessed through tutor-marked assignments and exams.

Practical and/or professional skills and attributes
When you have completed this diploma, you will be able to transfer and use relevant key skills in your workplace and daily life. Practical and/or professional skills as well as key skills are an integral part of all modules at all levels. They are developed as a consequence of module work throughout the programme and are also built into aspects of the assessment process.

The open nature of entry to the OU means that we emphasise reading and writing skills at OU level 1. At higher levels we make assumptions about your basic abilities in these areas, although feedback from your tutor on your writing skills continues to be important. As you work on higher-level modules, you will find that the materials from which you work become increasingly complex and diverse, and you will need more sophisticated skills of interpretation, selection, analysis and synthesis.

Application of number
You are taught these basic skills at OU level 1 in specific parts of the available modules. These skills are further developed at OU level 2. The extent to which you develop these skills will also depend on which modules you take in your options.

Information technology
These skills are introduced and used in a number of modules but form an important part of the OU level 2 compulsory modules. As such, a basic IT literacy is an outcome and requirement of the degree programme.

Problem solving
These skills are studied and developed in many of the case studies of policy and practice in the compulsory module at OU level 2.

Learning how to learn
Because OU students are studying at a distance, there is a strong emphasis on helping you to develop as an independent learner. At OU level 1 this means helping you to develop your basic skills (e.g. time planning, using feedback and support) but also laying the foundation for the increasing.