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Unit information: An Introduction to Study in the Arts and Social Sciences in 2021/22

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name An Introduction to Study in the Arts and Social Sciences
Unit code AFAC10017
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Mrs. Jess Farr-Cox
Open unit status Not open




School/department Arts Faculty Office
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit aims to introduce students to the skills required for studying the arts and social sciences within the foundation programme and (ultimately) at undergraduate level and to the range of disciplines available within the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law at Bristol. There will be opportunities for students to discuss issues related to the transition to higher education and/or returning to study and the process for progression beyond the foundation year. The unit aims to help students operate with self-confidence in a variety of university environments, including those with which they are initially unfamiliar, using a range of relevant skills for self-directed study, including those particularly relevant to study in the arts and social sciences.

Students will be asked to complete a range of practical tasks in their own time and will have opportunities to reflect on this work in seminars; the unit is thus intended to help students familiarize themselves with the balance there will be in other units between work completed independently and during contact time.

Topics covered may vary from year to year, and emphasis will vary according to the pathway the student is on (seminars for this unit are streamed by pathway), but would normally include: note taking; library use; how to organize your time; how to make use of feedback; prioritizing among different tasks; participation and active engagement; skills relating to the processing of information discovered in the research process such as wide reading and reading in depth; how to identify perspectives and arguments; how to interpret basic quantitative data, read and understand basic statistics (frequencies/averages, etc.) from tables/charts/graphs, and work productively with high volumes of complex information; numeracy skills including using percentages and ratios, understanding the concept of number and variable in basic algebra; and skills relating to the demonstration of knowledge verbally and in writing such as formulating an argument, and structuring an essay or presentation; the implicit sensory and other skills required in various disciplines (looking, hearing, performing, listening, reading); and an introduction to critical thinking.

As well as supporting students in making an informed decision about the degree programme to which they seek to progress via sessions on degree choice and careers, the unit will normally include one session looking at the ‘value’ of studying the arts and social sciences (financial, moral, personal, other), which will allow students to connect the practical skills they are acquiring to a larger conceptual sense of why they might study the arts and social sciences and how this connects to the relevance (and / or difficulty) of such study in the context of their own lives.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate the skills required to study the arts and social sciences within the foundation year and (ultimately) at undergraduate level;
  2. critically reflect on the transition to higher education and complete a series of tasks related to study at this level;
  3. demonstrate a range of academic skills (e.g. in reading, note-taking, library use and time management);
  4. evaluate and engage with the intellectual debates that are at the heart of the arts and social sciences as disciplines
  5. demonstrate an awareness of how the skills they have developed might be relevant beyond the course;
  6. articulate their own ideas in seminar discussion and associated formats.

Teaching Information

2 x 2 hour sessions per week.

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback. Some sessions (usually lectures) will be delivered to the whole cohort, for others (usually seminars) students will be streamed by pathway.

Assessment Information

1 x 2000-word summative essay (100%) [ILOs 1-6]

Students will be required to submit an essay on the question 'how does education fit into a life?'. The essay would be no more than 2,000 words of writing in total. A reflective element in this assessment will help students to develop confidence as well as skills relevant to study in the social sciences and to place what they are learning in the context of their own transition to higher education.

The task involves interviewing a two people on how education impacts their lives and using the assigned readings for the assessment to develop a comparative perspective on various views and experiences of education and draw broader conclusions about how education fits into people's lives.


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. AFAC10017).

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.