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Diploma of Higher Education in Social Policy and Criminology - Learning Outcomes

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Educational aims

This is an interdisciplinary diploma that will provide you with an introduction to the social sciences but will focus on advancing your understanding of social policy and criminology. 

The qualification will provide you with the opportunity to:

  • understand and apply social science concepts and theories to complex areas of social policy and criminology
  • understand the overlaps and connections between social policy and criminology and how these influence policy and practice
  • acquire the skills, knowledge and confidence to move to Level 3 study
  • develop professional and practical skills that can be applied to further learning and the world of work.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Knowledge and understanding

When you complete this diploma you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • key concepts, theories and debates distinctive to social science and which advance knowledge and understanding of social policy and criminology
  • the contested and social nature of knowledge including the critiques of taken-for-granted understandings of the social world and particularly crime and social problems
  • the significance of different value positions informing competing perspectives in social science, social policy and criminology and expressed in institutions, policies and practice
  • how the tools and knowledge of social policy, criminology and related subjects can contribute to an understanding of issues of ethical, social, political and public concern.

Cognitive skills

When you complete this diploma you will be able to:

  • identify and review different kinds of evidence in relation to social science and especially social policy and criminology
  • demonstrate awareness of contrasting/conflicting approaches and explanations
  • understand a range of methods used in social science and especially in social policy and criminology
  • present arguments, evidence and conclusions in a way that is suitable to the social sciences and especially social policy and criminology
  • work with conceptual frameworks and be able to engage with arguments at a theoretical level.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you complete this diploma you will be able to:

  • use skills that are transferable to broader contexts such as the workplace for example, evaluating sources and selecting suitable evidence, applying skills of critical analysis, making use of critical feedback and writing concisely to address a question or a problem
  • plan and manage a sequence of work that meets a deadline
  • skilfully present information and arguments using suitable formats, including essays, reports, presentations and forum discussions
  • apply your knowledge in a scholarly manner and take responsibility for monitoring and reflecting on your own learning.

Key skills

When you complete this diploma you will be able to:

  • search for, select and interpret material from a range of sources within a defined context, including original/primary material some of which is found independently
  • select and use information presented in visual/statistical data (e.g. images, maps, graphs, diagrams, charts, tables) within the context of a defined question
  • produce written work that coherently integrates a range of materials and concepts in order to create a logical and substantiated argument
  • competently retrieve and prepare information using ICT including searching and evaluating online sources, electronic databases and interactive electronic communication.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding are acquired in a number of different ways. Through its range of modules the qualification provides published distance learning materials, study guides and module companions, assignment and project guides. Learning is also organised via a range of multimedia material (through DVD and interactive online activities such as self-assessment questions), directed readings, original texts and through feedback on assignments. Assessment is, in the majority of cases, via tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) and end-of-module assessment (EMA) or examination. Structured online discussion forums moderated by tutors and module team members will support your learning and reflection upon your learning.

Cognitive skills are built up through the levels of the qualification and are taught and assessed through TMAs and end-of-module assessment.

Assessment tasks include essays, reports, policy analysis, newspaper and other artefactual analysis, web-based exercises and literature evaluation. Cognitive skills progress from developing a critical understanding and an understanding of academic procedures and methods at Level 1, through to an ability to compare and contrast at Level 2.

Key skills are developed and demonstrated at the different levels of the qualification. At Level 1 there is considerable emphasis on reading, writing and note-taking skills and this is reflected in the study materials, assessment strategies and tutor feedback on assignments. Reflective learning is built into Level 1 modules in order to support your awareness of how you are learning and how you can improve your attainment of key academic skills by best use of the resources around you. At Level 1 you are also introduced to a range of ICT skills.

At Level 2 skills become more advanced. More complex skills of interpretation, critical judgement, selection and synthesis are required. At Level 2 independent learning is firmly embedded: you will be encouraged and rewarded to search for and deploy information by yourselves, within contexts defined by the module team. Understanding and working with a range of sources and different kinds of evidence at Level 2 will develop key analytic and evaluative skills.

Practical and professional skills are taught and assessed through the qualification and employability and transferrable skills are delivered through reflective learning, which is a key part of Level 1 modules. At Level 2 these skills are developed more explicitly in relation to your journey towards your personal and work/career goals.

At Level 2 practical and professional skills are emphasised in a number of ways depending on the choice of modules made. For example, some modules and subjects will place an emphasis on the application of theory to policy or research documents.

The modules use a range of assessment tools and you will be exposed to the idea that there are different formats for the presentation of argument and evidence depending on audience and institutional setting, such as reports, presentations and team presentations, as well as essays.

Support is provided by tutors and other OU staff, and there are also resources such as the social sciences subject website and other programme and University support that will actively used with the modules to enhance wider engagement with the subjects studied.

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