Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Teaching less popular modules, putting ideas into practice

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Oliver Mallett



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Most programmes contain one or two modules that are very unpopular with students. These ‘problem subjects’ are often core modules considered by academics to provide important foundation knowledge, for example statistics and research methods modules or subjects requiring a different knowledge base to the rest of the programme. This paper critically reflects on our experience with a slightly different type of problem subject, Public Sector Management, an optional module that was so unpopular with students that it had not run for several years. Ideas and best practice guidance from teaching and learning literature (in particular Warwick & Ottewill 2004, and Fallows & Ahmet 1999) were reconsidered in this new context with the ideas feeding into a significant process of module redesign. In the redesigned module, more emphasis is placed on demonstrating the relevance of the teaching material and helping the students to experience the subject rather than simply studying it. Further, we demonstrate value in identifying an aspect of the problem subject that will be more appealing to students than the previous offering; in this case the opportunity to look at issues through a management consultancy lens. The article argues for the importance of reconsidering problem subjects as key challenges that can act as a spur to innovation in the design and delivery of these modules.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Warwick P, Mallett O

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Practice and Evidence of the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Year: 2017

Volume: 12

Issue: 3

Pages: 484-493

Print publication date: 21/07/2017

Acceptance date: 21/07/2017

Date deposited: 21/06/2017

ISSN (electronic): 1750-8428

Publisher: University of Glasgow, Learning and Teaching Centre