Unit Descriptions

When visiting a unit iLearn page, the unit description is often the visitor's first port of call. It serves as the unit 'pitch' directed at prospective students. A good unit description should succinctly convey the unit content, activities, learning outcomes, and expectations of students. The recommended unit description components are explained in detail, below. These components are a guide of what a unit description should contain, with the acknowledgement that there is flexibility in the order of how the components unfold within a unit description.

Unit Description Components

1) The Position Statement

The position statement in a unit description should capture the reader's attention by providing an overarching statement about the subject matter in question. It can also be in the form of question, a provocation, or even a challenge.

Examples:

  • Work and employment are basic social experiences. How can we understand them and why are they so important to us? (SOC295).
  • In antiquity Herodotus was regarded as the father of history. Thucydides is widely acknowledged as the creator of political history (AHPG823).
  • Delve into the traditions, myths and history of early Israel, a land situated in the bridge between the great empires of Egypt, Assyria and Babylon (AHIS250).

2) The Method

Following on from the position statement, the unit description should inform the reader about how the unit will explore the subject matter, or address the question/s posed.

Examples:

  • This unit searches for answers by applying sociological key concepts to contemporary work and employment issues (SOC295).
  • Through experiential role plays, discussions and exercises, students will be introduced to the skills required to advise on and participate in conflict resolution and management (LAW465).
  • Developing your skills in a close reading and critical analysis of the text, you will be studying early Israel and Judah from the foundation of the nation, through the period of the monarchy to the catastrophic events of the early sixth century BCE (AHIS250).

3) The Summation of Content/Topic

The summation of content/topic tells the reader about what they can expect to study by providing general overview of the breadth and depth of topics to be covered in the unit. Here, unit structure can be outlined. This component can also be combined with the position statement, description of the methods, and also the aims of the unit.

Examples:

  • The unit is made up of three parts. The first part examines the relevance of work for individuals and society. In the second part we investigate the organisation of work and employment on a political, organisational and individual level. The final part deals with our experience of work. It contemplates the future of work in terms of work-life balance and the chances for individuals' self-realisation (SOC295).
  • This unit examines a range of historiographical approaches to the reading of these two influential Greek historians (AHPG823).

4) The Summary Outcome

The summary outcome tells the reader why the student should study the unit and what the student will achieve as a result of successful completion of the unit. It is about the aims of the unit. This component can also provide students with an indication of how the unit is to be assessed and can be combined with any of the other four unit description components.

Examples: 

  • On the basis of those three parts you will gain a clear understanding of work and employment in contemporary societies (SOC295).
  • Through experiential role plays, discussions and exercises, students will be introduced to the skills required to advise on and participate in conflict resolution and management (LAW465).
  • The aim of this unit is both to understand Herodotus and Thucydides as writers and to evaluate the different historiographical approaches taken by the modern scholars who have studied them (AHPG823).

Unit Description Guidelines

The following guidelines are worth keeping in mind when writing unit descriptions:

  • Unit descriptions are limited to 1400 characters.
  • Check that all four recommended unit description components (see list above) have been included.
  • Do not use 'you' when referring to students. Instead, use 'students', i.e, 'students will acquire skills and knowledge relating to...'
  • Write a unit description that will stand the 'test of time'. i.e., do not reference other units/unit codes, and avoid mentioning places or organisations, as this information can change within the lifetime of a unit.
  • Learning outcomes should not be included.
  • A detailed description of assessments should not be included.
  • Avoid using acronyms or discipline-specific jargon.

Full Examples

SOC295

Work and employment are basic social experiences. How can we understand them and why are they so important to us? This unit searches for answers by applying sociological key concepts to contemporary work and employment issues. The unit is made up of three parts. The first part examines the relevance of work for individuals and society. In the second part we investigate the organisation of work and employment on a political, organisational and individual level. The final part deals with our experience of work. It contemplates the future of work in terms of work-life balance and the chances for individuals' self-realisationOn the basis of those three parts you will gain a clear understanding of work and employment in contemporary societies. 

(751 characters) 

AHPG823
LAW465
AHIS250
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