Dr Christine McGladdery on the Lifelong & Flexible Learning Programme and the School of History
February 29, 2016 Leave a comment
A full-time honours degree is just one of many options offered by the University of St Andrews. Lifelong and Flexible Learning aims to bring together the university’s offering of part-time, general, distance and access studies under a multi-disciplinary degree programme, allowing students to study a wide variety of modules, rather than focusing on one subject area. Students may take modules in subjects as diverse as Biology, Art History, Social Anthropology and English, many of which have been adapted from those offered in the full-time degree programmes. Within this multi-disciplinary approach, students are treated to the same rigour of delivery and assessment, fostering a range of skills and approaches. The Evening Degree programme started in 2000 with modules in English and IT, and the School of History offered modules from 2001, with Dr Christine McGladdery lecturing on the first-level module, ‘Medieval Scotland: 1100-1513’, and Rona Johnston-Gordon offering a second-level module ‘Europe in the Twentieth Century’, both of which remain popular with students, although the latter has been taught subsequently by Gillian Mitchell and Christine Linton.
The School of History is proud to have provided, in addition to its first and second level modules, a range of 3000-level modules ranging from ‘The Viking Age’ to ‘The Far East between 1850 and 1950’. The comparatively low ratio of staff to students guarantees close attention to skill development as well as facilitating engagement with course content, and students are encouraged to develop confidence in expressing their opinions and responding to those of others.
History is a consistently popular choice for those participating in the evening component of the Lifelong Learning programme, and the student cohort includes a wide range of ages and backgrounds, coming together to deepen their knowledge and understanding of particular periods and topics. The suite of 3000-level history modules includes ‘Heroes or Villains? The Impact of Personality in the Study of Scottish History’, in which iconic figures such as Macbeth and Mary Queen of Scots are studied with a view to tracing the development of their reputations. This offers students practical engagement with historiographical skills as they find their assumptions challenged and come to appreciate the impact of the manner in which history is written. New history modules are always well received, and wide staff engagement encouraged.
In the classroom, students experience a range of teaching and assessment methods, and some modules offer elements beyond the classroom, such as scheduled field trips (as part of the Scottish Castles module), which takes students on a day-long visit to a selection of castles such as Blackness, Linlithgow, Stirling and Doune, and visits to Special Collections in Martyr’s Kirk, where they are able to view and handle artefacts and primary sources with enthusiastic elucidation and support from the Special Collections staff.
Due to work and domestic commitments, students on the Evening Degree programme are less likely to access the range of activities enjoyed by the full-time students, but they have their own class representatives who liaise with staff-student councils, and a range of social activities is organised throughout the year by Lifelong Learning, enabling students to meet one another outside class. The message is that those with the enthusiasm, core skills and willingness to engage may return to education and study academic modules with a view to accumulating sufficient credits to walk across the stage of the Younger Hall as proud graduates of Scotland’s oldest university.