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Unit information: What Does it Mean to be Human? in 2021/22

Unit name What Does it Mean to be Human?
Unit code LANG00046
Credit points 20
Level of study QCA-3
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Mr. Thornthwaite
Open unit status Not open




School/department Centre for Academic Language and Development
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit aims to introduce students to a broad range of topics from, and some of the intellectual questions raised by, a range of disciplines in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Law. These topics will be grouped together in themes to ensure the unit is coherent in itself and that it allows students to understand the intellectual connections between different disciplines. It further aims to help students to develop a range of skills required for study at undergraduate level and will use the academic content it provides as the vehicle for the development of these skills.

In more detail, the unit has the following aims:

To introduce students to some of the significant events, movements and ideas in the modern era, with a particular emphasis on understanding how these historical episodes may have contributed to our present day society.

To introduce students to primary and secondary source material, to introduce them to the skills required to analyse and evaluate the primary material, to understand the secondary material and critically evaluate it, and to formulate their own ideas in response to this.

The unit will be divided into themes, such as human rights, and the thematic questions will be explored from diverse perspectives, e.g. by examining how our understanding of what it is to be human has been influenced by movements, for example those for women’s rights, civil rights, universal suffrage.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

(1) demonstrate an understanding of some of the major episodes in the history of ideas from the nineteenth century to the present day;

(2) critically evaluate the contributions of these episodes to current society;

(3) demonstrate an understanding of skills, such as, essay writing, critical thinking, building on the contribution of others, and responding to feedback.

(4) compare and evaluate philosophical arguments, works of music, art, and literature, theological texts, and historical documents.

(5) demonstrate an understanding of the aims and academic content of a range of disciplines.

Teaching Information

Students will attend 3 hours of study per week. Learning is facilitated in sessions involving a combination of teacher-led input, combined with discussion of readings and other set meterial for the week. On-line delivery of materials through Blackboard VLE

Assessment Information

Formative assessment:

  • Essay (1,000 words) with written formative feedback

Summative assessment:

  • Essay (1,000 words) (40%) ILOs 1, 2, 3
  • Essay (1,500 words) (60%) ILOs 3, 4, 5


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. LANG00046).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.