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Community Engagement: Theory into Practice (IL017/IL117)


This module offers a rather different experience from other university courses. Whilst having the chance to investigate and reflect on your own aspirations and values, you will also complete 30 to 40 hours of volunteering in a local not-for-profit organisation or similar setting. During Autumn term 2021, you will be matched with a community-identified project, ready to start volunteering on your project when you begin the module at the beginning of 2022. This course will encourage you to reflect on and enhance your practical experience in a community-engaged setting. You will explore the links between academic study and community engagement within a framework of respect, reciprocity, relevance and reflection.

Past students have taken on a very wide variety of volunteering roles - we will work towards having every student having a suitable in-person role if that is possible and safe, and we will have online-only alternatives available for all if that is what is needed.

The module will combine theoretical understandings from your home discipline with new interdisciplinary perspectives and apply them to practical, real world problems in communities outside the university. We will investigate and reflect on what can be learned from engagement with communities and with community-identified problems, and you will test the relationship between theory and practice, reflecting collectively and individually on the emergent learning that results.

The content catered to every single individual in the class and included the interdisciplinary aspect in every single session.


In order to ensure that volunteering arrangements are solidly in place for Spring 2022, there will be two pre-meetings in Autumn 2021, to be arranged to suit student timetables.

The module will then consist of ten two-hour sessions, in addition to the community-based project. Some weeks, a guest lecturer will examine aspects of community engagement from the perspective of their particular discipline. With these perspectives in mind, you will work in the second half of each session with the module convenor to develop your learning in an interdisciplinary manner, including reflection on practical project experience. Other weeks will be workshop style throughout.

A very welcoming atmosphere was created which made it easy to share and develop personal ideas. I enjoyed the great speakers from a range of departments as this really expanded my thinking - and I especially enjoyed the group discussions, because these allowed me to explore, question and consolidate my thinking.

Please note: Consistent attendance each week is essential to the development of critically reflective responses to theory and practice for this module, including successful assignment writing.


The module is assessed through two critically reflective pieces of work, a presentation and an essay, each of which brings together theoretical perspectives with emergent learning and reflection on your practical experience as a volunteer. Critically reflective student-devised assessments may be substituted for one or both assessed elements, and this can be discussed and negotiated with the module convenor.

Critical reflection in an academic context is new or fairly new for many students - effective approaches to reflecting on practice will be developed through classroom exercises and peer support throughout the module, and formative work and resources will be used to support the development of your academic critical reflection skills and capacity.

Everyone participated equally and this was very successfully facilitated by Mark. I feel genuinely enlightened by the ability to challenge my preconceptions of the world through other disciplines. Very nice to have some assessed presentation and self-reflection - made a wonderful change from the norm.

Indicative weekly topics

  1. Introduction to community engagement: emergent learning and reflective practice
  2. Participation, democracy and development: the history of an ideal
  3. Listening to strangers (and to others) – a simple, radical, powerful activity
  4. Being human online - developing and maintaining 'real' community, virtually
  5. 'Race', power and community: inclusive practice and the invisibility of whiteness
  6. Reflecting critically, engaging fully – communities and universities working in partnership
  7. Assessed presentations
  8. Biological understandings of 'community'
  9. Trouble-shooting final assessment proposals; peer assessment of reflective writing
  10. Community engagement and you – your project experience and your future plans

Module Convenor

Mark Hinton
M dot E dot Hinton at warwick dot ac dot uk

Any questions about the module? Please email me.

Proposed Class Time

Term 2 (Spring) 2021-22
Tuesday 09:00 - 11:00


R0.12 - Ramphal


For 15 CATS

Critically reflective presentation and essay; or Student devised assessment

25% Individual presentation which:

  • synthesises ideas explored during the module and
  • applies them to experience working in/with a community setting

75% Reflective submission - a critically reflective piece bringing together:

  • perspectives from ‘home’ and other disciplines;
  • discussions and literature from the taught module; and
  • reflection on your volunteering experience, and the unplanned learning that occurs through that.

This may take the form of an essay, but students are also welcome to submit submissions in a form of their own devising, as agreed with the module convenor in advance of submission.