Transcription of Questions and Answers from Virtual Open Event of Wednesday 23 rd February 2011

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1 Transcription of Questions and Answers from Virtual Open Event of Wednesday 23 rd February 2011 Topic Question Answer Administration Administration Administration Administration/Entry Requirements Is it possible to be eligible for this programme without an undergraduate degree but an ever, hopefully upwardly, spiralling lifetime s worth of experience? Will it be possible to enrol on the MLA yearly or does this programme plan to take on students every two years? Is there a chance to be accepted with an open degree from the Open University with a considerable amount of courses in the arts and literature area? What sort of student is the programme geared to? I can be fairly bold in my response and that this is a post-graduate programme, it assumes the kind of skills that people would have acquired who have done a humanities degree and who have succeeded in that and have come away with a good 2.1 or a First. Now that means having the kind of academic skills required for structuring an argument, referencing an argument, being able to pursue individual research, having an inquiring and questing kind of intellectual personality and those things are taught as a matter of course at undergraduate level, some of them are within you, some of them are a kind of intellectual curiosity which you either have or you don t. This course is not for somebody who does not have those academic skills in place, so I wouldn t discourage anybody from applying, but that is what I would say - you need to be fairly confident about those skills before applying. We are taking students every year. A degree from the Open University is absolutely fine. Splendid. The required qualifications, as we said, are a good undergraduate degree in a humanities subject. I have already said to you that there are instances when we may waive that qualification but it would very much rely on the academic skills you bring to the interview and if we think you will be at home in a course delivered at this level. What sort of student? Every kind of student frankly, the more diverse the better. There is nobody excluded apart as I said, coming along with the basic skills but we hope that we will be able to, all of us, enjoy each other s life experiences and what everybody brings individually to the discussion, to the debate. It s very exciting to be running an interdisciplinary programme and we really want to take very seriously this idea that studying one discipline can shed light on the study of another discipline and the kind of synergy that may be created by this kind of interdisciplinary work and for this to be successful we need as much wisdom around the table as possible. So we re hoping to get a very

2 Application Essays Assessment Do the two essays have to be approx words? How about 1500 words? Can they be topics of any kind? How long should the personal essay be? David asked How will we be assessed during the course experienced and diverse group of students along for our first, pioneering, cohort. The 2000 words is a guideline, if you feel you can say what you have to say in 1500 that is fine. The topics can be of any kind if they can show your abilities to write, creatively, inventively, imaginatively, with curiosity and with those academic skills we have already referred to. That is the kind of writing we are looking for. The online modules are not assessed. There are plenty of exercise and tasks to complete but there is no assessed work associated with the online. The face to face does involve assessment there are four assignments to write of up to 4,000 to 5,000 words each and those are associated with the introductory core module and the three residences where you will be writing with an interdisciplinary angle but on a subject based on the options you choose in the residence weeks. From about early spring of the final year you will be thinking increasingly about your dissertation, the second online module, the object you choose, which Sandie has just spoken about, to analyse and discuss in an essay which we hope will be published online will be an object which will be relevant to the dissertation that you are then going to develop. So the second online module will feed into the subject you choose for your dissertation. In terms of the weighting, the four assignments count for 40% of the final mark, so that s 10% each and the dissertation carries 60% so that s a very important part of the course. Class size What size will the classes be? For the first introductory module, when we will be working together, the class size will be between 15 and 25. In the options residences we begin together as a large group with an historical backdrop to the period we are studying and we come together at the end for a plenary to discuss interdisciplinary implications in what we ve been learning, but through the body of the residence obviously the groups will be split into two, because there are two courses running in the morning and you ll be doing one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Course Content Will we be able to select our own topics or will these have to relate to the material studied on the course? Do these have to be interdisciplinary, or can they focus on a specific area eg. Writing by Women? You must do a dissertation which really fires you up and which you are really enthusiastic about. The more cautious among you may decide to choose a dissertation topic which is related to something you have already studied but that doesn t necessarily have to be the case. It is important that you have an academic here, at the Oxford end, who can support you, it may not be necessarily be an expert in the field but it must be someone who you can discuss ideas with, who can guide you in terms of academic presentation, those kinds of things but we are not overly Draconian at all about what presentation you, do as long as it s a sensible subject and one in which we can support you. Course Content How many hours per week of We would recommend that you put 15 to 20 hours a week aside.

3 Course Content Course Content Course Content Dissertation study will be required? How will this course explore the past through the lens of human creativity Is the architectural history explored only local to Oxford architecture? Can I do something relating to the country that I live in? Specifically can someone be brought in to look at another area eg. I live in Taiwan and speak Chinese so would perhaps look at something in this field. Will there be any way for me to tie music into my final dissertation looking at This was really to flag up the interdisciplinary elements of the MLA. That it takes in the creative end of humanities study i.e. English literature and visual culture and although we will be having an eye on what these kinds of artefacts say to us about history, to what extent they can be interpreted as historical documents, equally as important and for some of you much more important, is how much we can analyse and interpret them and understand them and communicate them as creative documents and so this comment in the booklet was to try to sum up that there are these two main-stream approaches offered through the subjects we re covering, of looking and thinking about something from a creative point of view as a self-standing created object and something which we can read as a historical document. So that is a rather long winded way of saying what I hope is suggested, at least by that statement in the booklet. The first option, the Late Medieval and Early Modern option actually includes one particular subject which is the English Country House of that period which is specifically an architectural history option. Later on in the course we look at other forms of visual culture but to the extent we are studying architectural history we will be very much using Oxford as our case study as it were, but you would not be required to limit your attention to Oxford architecture, indeed many of you will not live in or near Oxford and it would be much more appropriate no doubt and much more meaningful for you to choose something closer to home, something which means a lot to you. So once again it is up to you to make the choice as long as we can support you in the choice you have made. This course has had to some kind of parameters built in otherwise it could get very chaotic indeed and the core course, the residences, as you will have seen, are about British culture from the end of the middle ages, from around 1500 to around the beginning of the First World War. So the taught elements of the course will be centred on that, having said that if you could see a link perhaps to the taught part of the course and something which related to that part of the world you come from, I can imagine something of a dissertation kind of subject could be developed on that but it would need very close discussion because what we wouldn t want is for you to be academically isolated, for you to be writing on something that had nothing to do with the course and about which none of us would be able give you the academic support you need. So it s a qualified answer to that question, I would not rule it out but I would just reiterate that the taught parts of the MLA are focussed on British culture a big subject from around 1500 to the early 20 th Century and introduced in the first introductory unit in October with a 5 day introductory course on British culture in a global context and so there we will be exploring links between Britain and the rest of the world in the cultural history of the period we are covering. A number of you have raised the question in terms of what you might study and how broad this course can be. The actual options range across basically four humanities subjects, each series of options should include an English Lit. option, a history option, a visual culture option and a philosophy or theology

4 Fees Fees Intermission Interview Interviews English music alongside the philosophical and artistic setting in which it was written In the light of the rise of undergraduate tuition fees, will there be any change to the fees previously announced for this course? Do we have to pay college fees to Kellogg College in addition to the stated course fees? Can the course be spread over more than two years? Can there be an interval between Year 1 and Year 2? What do you mean by interview? How will the interview be? What sort of questions should I expect? option but a couple of you have asked, for instance, if you can weave an interest in music into your studies and I have actually already spoken to our Director of Studies for music here, Dr Jonathan Darnborough about that kind of possibility. He is very enthusiastic that if anybody wanted to write a dissertation with a musical aspect to it, remember the dissertation itself will need to be an interdisciplinary one, that that could be supported by him and his colleagues. Of course there are fantastic music resources here in Oxford and through the course we will be directing you to musical events you can attend and perhaps even some events that have been specially set up for you as well. If you have any interest in humanities subjects beyond the core range we offer, we very much hope we would be able to help. The fees have been advertised and can be seen on the website and those fees are fixed for the first year and will not change. Yes, college affiliation fees are payable in addition to the tuition fees. They are currently approximately 1,200 per annum. These fees do not include accommodation costs. Intermissions can be applied for in the case of unforeseen circumstances such as unpredicted work commitments, duties of care, or illness. You should not apply for the course if you know from the beginning that you will not be able to finish it in the time allotted (two years). In any circumstance the course has to be completed within five years from matriculation in order to be considered for the award For everybody who applies to the course, we will go through the applications and invite some of you to interview. If you are able to come to Oxford for a face to face interview then that will be grand. But of course many of you would not be able to come to Oxford for that purpose and therefore we would have an interview which will either be conducted on the phone or via Skype. There will be two interviewers so the phone call will be a conference call, which we are experienced at doing here in Oxford and they work well, and a Skype interview is a possibility too. They will be informal and friendly and the point about the interview is for you to get from it what you need to know about the course to assess whether it s something you want to do and it s also for us to think, is this course going to be suitable for you as far as we can judge it. So it s a mutual getting together to work that question out and we will certainly discuss things that have come up in the application form and I think particularly the written work you have submitted. We ll certainly refer to that and talk a bit about that and where it s come from and what s inspired you to write it etc. etc. We ll want to know why you want to do the course, we ll want to know what you ll bring to the course, but we

5 Modules Online Online Online Options Reading Lists Reading lists Reading Lists At what stage will you be able to confirm which modules are running Will online events like today s be used as part of the course? Will the online learning environment follow that of the short online courses ie. with weekly units, discussion fora, personal tasks etc. Will doing online courses be a benefit in terms of preparation? In order for an Options course to run, must there be a minimum number of students wishing to take that option? When will you provide reading lists for the modules? Will everything be online i.e. all texts? Will you be sending out print copies of Module Options, Reading Lists etc. prior to completion of applications for don t have a set list of questions, we like them to be as open as possible in order to cover the ground that needs to be covered in order to make that assessment. We have now decided on our modules and you can see them on your screen for the three options residences. You choose two out of the four for each residence. This information is now available on the website. The short answer is no because people will be working at different stages of the day/week and it would not be fair to compel people to be online at the same time. However, we often find that when students do work together online they want to set up their own social network, there are a lot of pages on Facebook and similar social network websites where students do get together and sometimes they do arrange to have live web chats and they can be very useful. Yes they will. Each unit will contain a lot of course materials, a lot of links to existing websites and a lot of recommended and guided reading and each one will contain at least one forum on which you will discuss what you have learned and what you have been doing during that session. I think so any preparation is good. All the modules will run, there will always be four courses. We will ask you to submit your preferences in order of which modules you want to do and we will be hoping that we will be able to meet your first and second choice in one subject but you have to accept your third or fourth choice in the other so that there is a roughly even number of people in each group and to make sure each module runs. You will be sent reading lists and preparatory work and preparatory thinking well before the modules. The initial reading lists for the first year will be sent out in the summer. They will not all be online. We will certainly have an eye to pointing out to you electronic resources where we can but some of the texts you will be wanting to look at will be print copies and for many of the subjects there will be no set texts. With literature you will be working with some set texts but not things that are difficult to get hold of by any means. So it will be a mixture between online and printed texts which you will be working with. We are not going to send out print copies of the module options, they are up on site. I believe the final list which you saw earlier is already available on the website. Reading lists will not be sent out until we send out offers and preliminary lists will be sent out with those offers.

6 References Residences Residences the course? As a mature student how do I submit references as it has been 20 years since I graduated? What are the schedules like during the residences? What if you cannot make a particular residence? References - many of you will have graduated or done academic work many years ago and your teachers may not be still available to speak on your behalf. I have just talked about the kind of skills we are looking for, the kind of temperamental skills and the kind of technical skills, so in a reference we are looking for somebody who can vouch for those, so a professional colleague may be appropriate or if you have done some learning of a less formal nature such as evening classes or online courses, tutors who have helped you there, they would be appropriate referees. Sometimes a more personal acquaintance would be appropriate but this is the third category and should be avoided, you want to get an objective a view as possible about your abilities. But I appreciate that getting an academic referee is very difficult for many of you and I hope that gives you some leeway, some alternatives which you can turn to. For each residence there is a basic four contact hours per day and that will be, if you like, class time but not necessarily in a classroom by any means, you may be going out on site as I say, we are using the Ashmolean. That is the basic contact time but there will also be one to one tutorials, and of course, being in touch with us whilst you are away by , by Skype, by telephone. We will endeavour, so far as possible, to maintain communication during the period you are away from Oxford via those means. Of course if you live near Oxford then hopefully you will be able to come in and out and use the facilities between residences. I think that will be problematic. There are only 4 residences and you would be missing a quarter of the course (not including the online aspect) but a quarter of the face to face course if you were not able to come to a residence, so I think it would be deeply impoverish your experience if that were the case, though obviously none of us can predicate what is going to happen in terms of illness and so on. I would not come on the course if you knew from the start that you would not be able to come to one of the residences.

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