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An MSC in International Education

It is becoming increasingly obvious that for educational institutions to thrive in the 21st Century, they will have to reconsider the way in which they provide courses.

Courses that run from nine to five, Monday to Friday no longer appeal to many students, particularly postgraduate students, and the successful universities and colleges will be those who embrace the fact that education will have to be delivered how, when and where people want it.

The answer is e-learning. Students leaving school today have never experienced life without the Internet and universities must adapt to meet the rising expectations to integrate technology into courses and student support. However, traditional educational structures and cultures can be revised in a way that will not only benefit the students, but also prove cost-effective.

In fact to achieve the flexibility to deliver courses to students where and when they need them, some courses will be delivered entirely on-line.

One such course is a qualification in International Communication being offered by a partnership between Napier University in Edinburgh and the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.

The programme gives working professionals the chance to study online for a Masters Degree, a Postgraduate Diploma or a Postgraduate Certificate in International Communication and looks at communication from the point of view of international companies.

The new programme, which has been developed in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts at the Australian university, is delivered entirely via the Internet with support by e-mail and telephone.

The part-time programme offers those who are currently working, or who aspire to work, in the communication industries a convenient pathway to further their qualifications. Students can fit their studies around their schedule – they don’t even have to leave home.

The programme seeks to provide a theoretical understanding of the way in which communications systems operate globally and is ideal for people working in the communication departments of large companies; charities and other non-profit making bodies; specialist agencies such as PR or advertising agencies; or journalists, who have a first degree in a general arts subject, but do not have a specific qualification in communication.

The programme is also suitable for people who are not currently working in these areas, but who would like to move into journalism, advertising or PR, without having to take a year out to complete a Masters
qualification first.

All applicants must have a British honours degree (three years from an English institution, four years in Scotland) at Upper Second Class level or above; or a three-year Bachelors degree (with work experience) from an Australian University; or four-year qualification from a USA university; or the equivalent from their own country of study. In general, applicants with non-UK qualifications should have at least a three-year Bachelors degree, however all applications will be examined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the International Office and Life Long Learning Services.

In addition, any students whose first language is not English will be required to have a minimum ILETS score of seven before being admitted to the programme.

The subject of the first degree is not particularly important, but people who have studied science, social science, arts and humanities can all make good communicators. However, both universities are keen to encourage people to apply with a broad diversity of first qualifications.

Naturally, students who take up any online course have to be familiar and confident with the basic use of their own computers, with Word and with the ability to use the Internet and send e-mails. However, an introduction to online studying is available to students as well as an introduction to WebCT, the programme used by Napier for the modules, or Blackboard, the programme used by USQ. Technical support is also provided for any problems with the computer programmes or with the computer itself.

Full-time students can complete the Certificate in one semester (four modules), the Diploma in two (eight modules) and the Masters (12 modules) in a third, completing the entire programme in a single year. However, because of the mode of delivery, students from anywhere in the world can study at their own pace and in their own time, making the programme especially suitable for those already working. Students also have four opportunities to join the programme in any calendar year, due to the varying semester dates of the partner universities.

The coursework is varied and includes the creation of a portfolio of journalistic pieces, essay writing, group work over the Internet to compile group projects or presentations, class tests, quizzes and assessments.

All students must take two core modules in ‘Communication Theory and Practice’ and ‘Communication Research Methods’. In order to obtain the Masters Degree, students must take the Communication module from the university they are registered with. In addition, there is a stream of optional modules in advanced communication theory available.

Each module has its own official discussion board to give students the chance to discuss topics with other students as well as the staff. A staff/student Liaison Committee is also being set up to provide an opportunity for student feedback on the course.

Certificates issued will vary depending on which university students are registered with, however graduates registered with Napier University will receive a Napier award which recognises the contribution of the USQ credit to the award and vice versa.

The ability to offer e-learning courses is what will set the standard in future. Students who live anywhere in the world can get these qualifications and by continuing to work, can finance their study.

Universities have to grasp the nettle of e-learning because undergraduates as well as those seeking Continued Professional Development want their education to be flexible. In future all courses may be delivered this way…


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