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Teaching and assessment

A Liberal Arts workshop. A member of staff is at the front of the room, speaking to the class

Overview

How will I learn?

In the Liberal Arts Department we use a unique Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach. This is where you understand a topic by examining complex problems from a variety of perspectives. You will then develop your own distinctive stance on that problem. Students are co-creators of knowledge in the classroom.

All of the core modules are delivered using PBL workshops, which are defined by the independent research conducted by students. There are no formal lectures. Instead, you will spend your time in the classroom debating, framing, and presenting research questions/responses. This is an active learning method that relies on your specific interests. Therefore, the content we teach (explored through in-depth case studies) changes depending on the student cohort.

Optional modules from across the University may involve lectures, seminars, tutorials, and/or laboratories. You will be taught by tutors from different disciplines. We will support you to bring together these various approaches in a way that makes sense to you.

"We are encouraged to look at situations from a variety of perspectives"

"One thing that really makes (Liberal Arts at Warwick) stand out is its emphasis on Problem-Based Learning. (...) In a nutshell it means that we don’t learn in the traditional university manner. There aren’t huge lecture theatres with hundreds of students that you don’t know, there tends to be really small classroom sizes with up to 15 people. This means that the learning environment is much more inviting and you actually get spoken to rather than spoken at. So this is where PBL comes in. Rather than looking at learning the same as everyone else, we are encouraged to look at situations from a variety of perspectives."

Olamide Ajisafe

Liberal Arts graduate

Hear more from Olamide about how you'll learn


"A Problem-Based Learning classroom is a lively space of discussion"

"A Problem-Based Learning classroom is a lively space of discussion where students have gone out, conducted their own independent research, shared their ideas with each other and together worked as part of a team to produce a response which we then unpick collectively and explore further."

Dr Kirsten Harris

Associate Professor, Liberal Arts

How will I be assessed?

Assessments in the Liberal Arts Department will enable you to develop your expertise in addressing different kinds of problems. You will do so by using a variety of perspectives from the arts, sciences, and social sciences. You will learn how to use a range of research methods. This will equip you with a foundation from which you can approach problems critically and creatively. Consequently, the range of assessments combines the traditional (essays and written examinations) with the innovative (creative projects, portfolios, and performance).

Our assessments are designed to be authentic learning experiences, not barriers. Few single assessments are worth more than half of a module’s total mark. Assessment types vary to support the development of a range of academic and professional skills.

You might choose to present your research in a public forum such as the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR) or the International Conference of Undergraduate Research (ICUR). You will also have the opportunity to design your own research-based assessments.

Assessment methods will differ according to the optional modules that you choose from across the University. For example, if you take modules in the School of Life Sciences as part of your pathway, you may undertake laboratory-based assessments.

Assessments in each year of the degree contribute to the degree classification. For the three-year degree, the marks for each year are used to determine the degree classification. A 10%:40%:50% weighting is typically applied for Year One, Year Two, and Year Three. For the four-year degree (with a year abroad or on work placement), a 10%:40%:0%:50% weighting is typically applied for Year One, Year Two, Year Three, and Year Four.


"The International Conference of Undergraduate Research is a chance to learn in multiple senses. You present your own research in an interdisciplinary setting, and you also learn from your peers presenting. I enjoyed learning things that lay outside the disciplines I have explored in Liberal Arts."

Ceara Webster

Liberal Arts graduate

Hear more about ICUR 2019

Ratio of exams to coursework

Year One

Liberal Arts core modules

Liberal Arts: Principles and Praxis

Unassessed

Art and Revolution

75% coursework, 10% practical work, 15% in-class examination

Science, Society, and the Media

45% exam, 30% coursework, 25% practical work

Qualitative Methods for Undergraduate Research

100% coursework

Optional modules

In your first year you will also choose optional modules from a wide range of modules offered by departments across the University. The ratio of coursework to exams will vary according to which optional modules you choose.

Year Two

Liberal Arts core modules

Consumption

90% coursework, 10% practical work

Sustainability

40% exam, 45% coursework, 15% practical work

Optional (pathway) modules

In your second year you will also take modules which correspond to your chosen Disciplinary Interest pathway/Specialist Interest pathway. The ratio of coursework to exams will vary according to which optional modules you take on your pathway.

Final Year

Liberal Arts core module

Dissertation

100% coursework

Optional (pathway) modules

In your final year you will also take optional modules which correspond to your chosen Disciplinary Interest pathway/Specialist Interest pathway. The ratio of coursework to exams will vary according to which optional modules you take on your pathway.

Example assessments




How many contact hours will I have?

Contact hours vary depending on your pathway modules. A Liberal Arts student can typically expect between 8 and 12 contact hours a week, including pathway modules. You may have more than 12 hours, depending on your module choices. Module offerings in other departments may involve different contact hours per week.

Core Liberal Arts modules in the first and second year consist of one two-hour workshop per week. Much of our teaching takes place over two terms. Most year-long modules each have around 44 hours of teaching time. We also offer regular out-of-classroom activities, including film screenings, skills sessions, discussion groups, reading groups, and field trips (COVID-19 allowing).

In addition, across terms 1 and 2 of the first year you will attend ten one-hour sessions as part of an introductory module (Liberal Arts: Principles and Praxis).

The final-year core dissertation module usually involves five hours of lectures and 12 supervision sessions across three terms.

Example of a Liberal Arts student's timetable

Year 2, Term 1

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

  • 11 am - 12 pm seminar
  • 4 - 6 pm workshop
  • 10 am - 12 pm workshop
  • 11 am - 1 pm seminar
  • 9 - 11 am lecture