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Students will be able to tailor their degree programmes to fit their individual interests in an innovative approach to the undergraduate curriculum launched this year at the University of Liverpool.
Honours Select gives students in the University’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences the opportunity to combine subjects, even if they are not already offered as a combined or joint honours course.
Unveiled at University Open Days in June, Honours Select is the first initiative of its kind in the UK to be student driven, providing undergraduates with the option to tailor degrees that show the full range of their skills, capacities and interests.
Flexibility and breadth
Professor Mark Peel, who is leading the initiative, described Honours Select as a response to the increasing preference among prospective students, parents and employers for a university education that provides flexibility and breadth as well as depth of knowledge in one or two areas of specialisation.
Students can decide whether to focus on one discipline in the traditional way, or to work towards a degree combining a major and a minor, or to pursue a joint degree. In most cases, they will also be able to shift the balance between their subject components after the first year, when they have had an opportunity to experience university study and discuss their options with academic and career advisers.
Commenting on the launch, Executive Pro-Vice-Chancellor Andrew Derrington said: “Honours Select will allow student choice to drive the evolution of the curriculum, rather than just allowing students to choose from a set of programmes defined by us.
“At a time when career prospects are increasingly a priority for students, Honours Select allows a student to combine a subject that leads directly to a job, with one that they enjoy and that educates them more broadly. They can take away exactly what they want in terms of their experience in preparation for prospective careers or further study.”
While there are a few subject areas which will continue to offer only a single honours programme because of professional accreditation requirements, the majority of the Faculty’s disciplines will offer single, major, minor and joint options from September 2014.
Creating new minor and joint pathways
“Another benefit of Honours Select,” added Professor Mark Peel, “is that subject areas will be able to create new minor and joint pathways very quickly, introducing students to the most recent developments and research questions in their disciplines. These pathways will often combine disciplines and involve lecturers from different areas teaching together. We will be able to offer highly specialised pathways that will enable students to make a strong statement about their mastery of specific skills.”
Students’ chosen subjects will be listed in their degree title to display the range of knowledge and skills they have developed and the approach has already been positively reviewed by a number of graduate employers and national recruiters.
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