PP3ILM-Independent Learning / Extended Essay

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Summer term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Prof John Preston

Email: j.m.preston@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:

This module, at the culmination of the third-year, is specifically designed to complete a student’s training in independent learning. The student will take responsibility for choosing a topic of study and producing an extended essay on that topic. With the supervision of a member of staff, they will develop a suitable reading list and set themselves a graduated period of preparatory work. They will then begin work on drafting the essay, taking advice when necessary and learning how to depend on group-work to develop and improve their own individual ideas. At the end of the period, they will submit the extended essay, together with a full bibliography and record of sources used.


The module develops mastery of the advanced skills of philosophy. It enables a student to focus on a topic that fascinates them. It builds on previous experiences of independent learning, for which the student has been trained, particularly in the extended coursework essay at Part 2 and in the research-led modules at Part 3. It improves research skills and personal effectiveness through developing these independent-learning skills. The emphasis is on developing independent learning, personal effectiveness and self-awareness, as well as the ability to reflect effectively on your progress and strengths and on the goals you wish to achieve.

Assessable learning outcomes:

The programme of study in Philosophy is specifically designed to introduce students to progressive intellectual challenges and to consolidate previous experience at each new level. This third-year module enables students to develop mastery of the advanced skills of philosophy – particularly in written work and in oral discussion. This is a research-led module and it improves and tests for research skills - particularly the ability of students to discover new material for themselves and to develop it themselves.

Additional outcomes:

The module encourages students to develop their own response to philosophical issues and to the best ways of approaching them. It builds on techniques learned in the earlier aspects of Part 3, with the research-led modules, to develop students’ skills as independent researchers and presenters of material. Students will be enhancing their contextual abilities: this module enables students to deploy different ways of relating concepts and theories to the current context, so they can develop the skills to apply their knowledge to real world problems.

Outline content:

The content of the module will be determined by the student, with advice and guidance from a supervisor.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The basis of this module is the student’s own independent research and preparation, culminating in the submission of an extended essay. Guidance and support is provided by a supervisor and by regular group work. Students will be encouraged to learn how to present their ideas and improve them through group work. Over the course of the term, the student will have the opportunity to learn and practise the various different aspects of research necessary for submission of an extended essay: focusing their attention on core issues, building up knowledge of the relevant literature, balancing their ability to represent the views of others with their capacity for critical engagement, developing an independent-minded approach, and where possible, offering original problems and solutions. All students will be required to present their work to the group at regular intervals. And they will be required to submit a single extended essay at the end, for summative assessment. This essay will be due in week 6 of the Summer term. Students are encouraged to be active in all group activities, asking questions and trying to answer the questions posed by others.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Project Supervision 20
Guided independent study 180
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:

Students will regularly prepare material for presentation and discussion in group work.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Written assignment, to be completed in August

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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