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Unit information: An Introduction to Study in the Arts and Humanities in 2020/21

Unit name An Introduction to Study in the Arts and Humanities
Unit code AFAC10007
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Mrs. Jess Farr-Cox
Open unit status Not open




School/department Arts Faculty Office
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit aims to introduce students to the skills required for studying the arts and humanities within the foundation year and (ultimately) at undergraduate level and to the range of disciplines available within the Faculty of Arts at Bristol. There will be opportunities for students to discuss issues related to the transition to higher education and/or returning to study and the process for progression beyond the foundation year. The unit aims to help students operate with self-confidence in a variety of university environments, including those with which they are initially unfamiliar, using a range of relevant skills for self-directed study, including those particularly relevant to study in the arts and humanities.

Students will be asked to complete a range of practical tasks in their own time and will have opportunities to reflect on this work in seminars; the unit is thus intended to help students familiarize themselves with the balance there will be in other units between work completed independently and during contact time.

Topics covered may vary from year to year, but would normally include: note taking; library use; how to organize your time; how to make use of feedback; prioritizing among different tasks; reading in depth; reading around a subject; the implicit sensory and other skills required in various disciplines (looking, hearing, performing, listening, reading); and an introduction to critical thinking. There may also be a general session on planning, drafting, re-drafting and editing assessed work, but more detailed and focused work on this will be done in the period units.

The unit will normally include one session looking at the ‘value’ of studying the arts and humanities (financial, moral, personal, other), which will allow students to connect the practical skills they are acquiring to a larger conceptual sense of why they might study the arts and humanities and how this connects to the relevance (or difficulty) of such study in the context of their own lives.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate the skills required to study the arts and humanities within the foundation year and (ultimately) at undergraduate level;
  2. critically reflect on the transition to higher education and complete a series of tasks related to study at this level;
  3. demonstrate a range of academic skills (e.g. in reading, note-taking, library use and time management);
  4. evaluate and engage with the intellectual debates that are at the heart of the arts and humanities as disciplines
  5. demonstrate an awareness of how the skills they have developed might be relevant beyond the course;
  6. articulate their own ideas in seminar discussion and associated formats.

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback. Where appropriate, some sessions will be delivered to students on this unit alongside students studying on other Foundation pathways (i.e. Social Sciences, Economics, Finance and Management)

Assessment Details

One 2000-word summative portfolio (100%) [ILOs 1-6]

Students will be required to submit a portfolio of work on the question 'how does education fit into a life?'. The portfolio would be no more than 2,000 words of reflective writing in total.

The reflective nature of this task is designed to help students develop confidence as well as skills relevant to study in the social sciences and to place what they are learning in the context of their own transition to higher education.

The task involves interviewing two people on how education impacts their lives and using the assigned readings for the assessment to develop a comparative perspective on various views and experiences of education and draw broader conclusions about how education fits into people's lives

Reading and References

Catherine Bates and Abi Matthewman, Studying Arts and Humanities (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Diané Collinson et al, eds, Plain English, 2nd edn (Buckingham: Open University Press, 2001)

Stella Cottrell, The Study Skills Handbook (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)