During the Summer, most university in the UK give their students the opportunity to choose the modules they want to attend the next academic year. But if you are about to start your 1st Year, this choice can be quite difficult to make without having first-hand experience. Even before 2nd year begins, you might still have questions about how to effectively choose the modules you will take. In this article, I will discuss the best tips to pick the modules that best suit your needs.
Think about your passions
The first thing you need to consider is what topics are your favourites. In my case, I enjoy learning about how medicines work, the molecular basis of biology and how technology can find modern methods of study. For this reason, I’m shaping my curriculum to follow my preferred pathway.
You should make a similar thought process. Think about what part of your subject makes you passionate and what does not spark your interest. The latter is the easiest to pinpoint. They are those topics that interest you the less when you are attending lectures. There’s nothing wrong with this. The reason we get to choose modules is to determine what we like and we would like to do.
After you have discarded those topics you don’t enjoy, write a list of theme areas you’d like to study in depth. There will be modules touching on those areas, so the choice will be easier.
Look on the university website
The second step is to analyse the options your school gives you. On the university website, each course should have a description of the modules that can be taken. Read the syllabus of each module, the assessments you will take and which modules are connected. The student handbook should help you understand if modules are core, compulsory or optional.
Core and compulsory modules are the same for everyone in your course. The real variation comes with optional modules, which define your career path. Each university has different requirements to consider the learning outcomes achieved, so check with the module leads which percentage you need to get to receive credits for the modules. In my case, the pass mark is 40%. Core modules need to get at least that mark to consider the module passed. There is a compensation mechanism if you were to fail one of the non-core modules. However, as long as you complete the coursework, you shouldn’t need to use this “safety-net”.
Check the pre-requisites
I can’t stress enough how important it is to check the pre-requisites for each module in Year 2, 3 and 4 if you are on integrated masters. It’s fundamental to shape your path like you want. If you pick a module you like in Year 1 without checking which modules are connected to it in the following years, you risk having to attend lectures of modules you don’t like.
In the weeks before the module choice opens, I suggest looking at the pre-requisites for the modules you prefer in the last year and work backwards. This will allow you to check all the pre-requisites and which modules you need to take in the previous years to achieve your goal. The student handbook can help you again.
One strategy I used was to create a flow diagram. Using the student handbook, the university website and the directions given by the coordinators, I designed a chart that helps me connect all the modules. This allowed me to have a clearer picture of what I needed to do to study my preferred topics. The information to do this should be available to you, so I encourage you to make something similar.
Ask your tutor
As I said in previous articles, your tutor is your go-to person whenever you have questions. They are the only professors who follow you from the beginning to the end of your journey and can really help you shape your path. They can tell you who to contact, where to research opportunities, and how to achieve your goals.
When the date for the module choice gets closer, I would suggest talking to your tutor and ask them which modules they think are the best to follow your preferred pathway. They should be able to give you precious guidance about it and tell you which extra-curricular activities you can do to enhance your CV. They might also be coordinators of some of those modules, so they know the syllabus, assessments and skills you will gain.
My module choice week ended on Friday 30th of July 2020. I am happy with the modules I chose for Year 2. I also decided to audit one extra module in Semester 2, so I can expand my potential choices for the following years. Let me know if you would like to learn more about the differences between university in the UK and in Italy. In the meantime, use my tips to create a satisfying academic pathway.