Small bites or starve

October 25, 2002

Why did we modularise (Letters, THES , October 11, 18)? Because offering minors, majors and single honours in each subject across a large modular scheme allowed small subjects to attract enough students to be viable.

Semester-length modules allowed the right number of choice points to maximise the range of the institution's offering. Small polytechnic faculties could match or exceed the spread of courses offered in large universities and offer them to previously excluded groups. This was difficult for many academics to grasp even at the time, and from your columns it is clear that it is being rolled back everywhere by subject chauvinism.

Modularisation required colleagues to help one another by allowing that some knowledge of one's subject was preferable to complete ignorance for students choosing not to study it to the exclusion of all else. Now their subjects are being dropped from many post-92 universities, which will soon be exclusively devoted to training rather than to education.

Roger Harris
University of Middlesex

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