What is Curriculum 2013?
Curriculum 2013 is the term we have adopted as a shorthand to describe changes to be introduced from September 2013 to course structures, course content and delivery for new students and the changes to the academic year that will affect new and continuing students.
I’ve heard that the new academic year will contain Worcester Weeks, what are they?
From September 2013, as part of the changes to introduce Curriculum 2013, the academic year will be structured to include three Worcester Weeks when the normal timetable will be suspended to enable a range of alternative learning activities to be scheduled by your course teams.
Why have Worcester Weeks been introduced?
The fundamental objective of Worcester Weeks is to provide students with an enriched learning experience to complement the opportunities provided elsewhere in the curriculum by providing the space to develop cross-course activities such as employability/careers fairs, student conferences, project working, visits and speakers and skills sessions. Worcester Weeks will enable courses to provide opportunities outside the main timetable and will allow different courses and years to work together for mutual benefit.
Have students been consulted?
Yes, students have been consulted at all stages of the process of developing Curriculum 2013. Many of the current ideas for changes to curricula at Worcester stemmed from a special student conference organised in 2010. Students said that they wanted opportunities to add value to their studies and to engage in different forms of learning. Also, at course committee meetings, where the StARs feed in course development ideas from students, there have often been requests for more opportunities for practical learning and further opportunities to develop their wider skills, which can be delivered in Worcester Weeks. Your course tutors should be sharing their ideas for Worcester Week activities with you via Course Committees and discussion with your StARs. Equally, your student union representatives have been involved in the process of developing Worcester Weeks, through their involvement in University committees where these ideas have been developed and via discussions with the StARs in the various SU forums.
Does this affect all students?
No, not all students. Worcester Weeks will be implemented for all University-based undergraduate honours degree programmes, with the exception of professional programmes (e.g. midwifery, initial teacher training). They will be introduced for all years/ levels of undergraduate study in 2013/14, as an integral part of your course.
How will this affect when I am required to be in attendance at University and what are the dates for Worcester Weeks?
The key change is the removal of the long `gap’ in teaching between semester one and semester two in January, but keeping a 3 week Christmas break. The academic year, when students are expected to be in attendance, will be longer to incorporate the extra three Worcester Weeks although the start and end of the academic year remain the same point as previous years (with teaching starting in late-September and finishing in mid-May). Two Worcester Weeks will take place during semester one, in weeks 5 and 9 of the timetable. These are 21st – 25th October 2013, 18th – 22nd November 2013 (when graduation ceremonies also take place). This will mean that some semester one teaching will now take place after the Christmas break.
There will be a three week break for Christmas after which students will return for the final semester one taught sessions and an assessment week. There will then be no `break’ in teaching and semester two will begin with the third Worcester Week (27th – 31st January 2014), followed by 12 weeks of teaching, two assessment weeks and a feedback and advice week as currently operates.
Where can I find details of the new academic year structure?
The dates for the 2013/14 academic year can be accessed via your SOLE page.
How does this affect the structure of my course?
The structure of your course will not change, except that you will now have these extra Worcester Weeks activities incorporated into your programme of study. The choice of modules and the pattern of assessments will be the same. The new Curriculum 2013 programmes are only being introduced for new first year students from September 2013 and continuing students will remain on their existing programmes of study.
Are Worcester Weeks the same as Directed Study “Reading” Weeks?
No. Worcester Weeks are a new initiative and replace the `breaks’ in the timetable known as Directed Study Weeks. Whilst some courses have used Directed Study Weeks to provide extra activities for students others have not, and have left students to use the time for their own study/activities for example for assignments, Independent Studies or placements . With the introduction of Worcester Weeks all courses will be identifying specific activities for students to engage in which will be part of your course.
Do I have to attend the activities during Worcester Weeks?
Yes you do – It’s important that students and staff understand that Worcester Weeks are not an opportunity to have a holiday. They are intended to be integral to courses and are about adding value in terms of interest, inspiration and innovation in learning experiences. Consequently, as with any other part of your course, you are expected to engage. Many courses will also schedule academic tutorials in Worcester Weeks.
Some students are used to spending “reading weeks” volunteering and undertaking internships – will these opportunities still be available to them or will attendance for Worcester Weeks be mandatory?
Whilst students are expected to attend the activities scheduled by courses in Worcester Weeks, students should also be able to undertake other activities which enhance their studies and their personal development. Indeed, participating in voluntary activities or placement opportunities might be the specific focus of a week in some courses. Students should ask their StARs to raise these questions at course committee meetings so that they can report back on what activities might be accommodated and ensure that there is sufficient flexibility in the new system so that students are not disadvantaged.
However, students should not view Worcester Weeks as `empty weeks’ which offer the only place to slot in these activities and you should think carefully about how these opportunities can be combined throughout your programme of study. Students are encouraged to discuss their personal development plans with academic tutors throughout their studies and to take advantage of the range of opportunities both within the course curriculum and those offered by the SU and the University to build a strong personal profile. Opportunities from Worcester Weeks are part of this.
Many students rely on “reading weeks” to do lots of concentrated study. Will this still be possible during Worcester Weeks?
Students should not assume that they will have any blocks of free time. However, it is likely that final year students will be directed to use time during Worcester Weeks to work on their Independent Studies, alongside some tailored support activities for this. In addition, subject areas are being encouraged to look at removing the bunching of assignment hand-in dates, with a view to having intervals between hand-in-dates so that students can plan their work more effectively and not have to cram activity into specific concentrated blocks.
How will Worcester Weeks be organised?
During Worcester Weeks students will be engaged in planned, structured learning activities. This is likely to be a combination of ‘taught’ time, directed learning activity and individual study. ‘Taught’ time might include online activities, group work, work-based learning, educational visits and a range of other activities, as well as direct contact time. The details of the activities planned will be contained in your course handbook and/or other course documentation given out to you at the start of the year. In your course programme these will not be labelled as `Worcester Weeks’ as courses have been encouraged to develop their own activities tailored to courses, using their own terminology; so you will see things such as `employability week’, `philanthropy week’ or `extended induction week’ in your programme.
I commute a long way to study, will it be worth my while coming in for these activities?
It’s very important that courses take into account the particular needs and circumstances of students who travel to study. It would not be fair to expect students to travel in to University during Worcester Weeks for short sessions. These are the kinds of issues which should be raised at by your StARs at course committee meetings.
How do I find out more information about what is planned for my Worcester Weeks?
Hopefully your course tutors have already shared with you their outline ideas for Worcester Week activities through the course committee meetings and other course forums. Your courses should be supplying you with further information about the activities planned for Worcester Weeks soon. If your course is not discussing these with you then you should ask your StARs to raise this with the Course Leader and at your course committee meeting.
How will Worcester Weeks work for Joint Honours students?
Joint Honours students will be in the advantageous position of having a wide range of Worcester Week activities from which to benefit, and therefore are advised to plan carefully and to discuss with their academic tutor a schedule for all three weeks in a given year. Some JH students will naturally tend to view one subject as their ‘first’ or ‘major’ subject and so will tend to follow the schedule of activities for that subject and ‘fill in’ any essential learning from the second subject. JH students may also find that their two subjects have planned some very similar activities, for example in relation to employability, and it will make sense to participate in the activities that seem most of benefit to you as an individual.
Will the new academic year mean that students’ opportunities to study abroad for part of the time will be curtailed?
No – students will have the same opportunities as now to undertake study abroad.