Re-examining the case for Modular Education

Richard Morris, Derek Covill, Mark Milne, Edward Elton, Catherine Grundy, Stephen Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


Breaking degree courses up into smaller, modularised units of study has offered students flexibility and cross-disciplinarity in their learning paths and has been widely taken up within the UK university system since first appearing in the 1960s. Deconstruction subjects into constituent components can however be problematic for holistic subjects requiring students to reconstruct these modules back into successful whole bodies of understanding. Product Design courses typically use project modules to achieve this, providing vehicles for students to re-unite, synthesis and integrate subject knowledge into a common whole. It can however still be difficult to synchronise modular subject knowledge with project requirements, to avoid burdening staff with excessive modular and project assessment and to provide the scheduling framework that makes organisational sense to students. In 2013/14 course staff at the University of Brighton introduced a quasi-non-modular course format, based on the delivery of subject knowledge in a block module format in a sequence that mirrored the design process. The aims included reducing the organisational burden on students, reducing staff and student assessment loads and to provide greater context to teaching material. Whilst educational efficacy is difficult to verify, the findings suggest that this change has been highly effective. It also revealed more explicitly some of the deeper learning structures and issues that can get overlooked within the modular system and which have been used to enhance the non-modular system further in 2015/16. This paper outlines the changes and lessons learnt by the course team over this 2 year period. It is felt that these findings offer lessons not just for Product Design tutors but for practitioners and administrators across the education sector.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational conference on Engineering and Product Design education
Place of PublicationAalborg
PublisherInstitution of Engineering Designers
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2016
EventInternational conference on Engineering and Product Design education - Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark, 8-9 September 2016
Duration: 8 Sept 2016 → …


ConferenceInternational conference on Engineering and Product Design education
Period8/09/16 → …


Dive into the research topics of 'Re-examining the case for Modular Education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this