Course Units and Teaching

Course unit materials

This page serves to give you a brief outline of the available course units and, in some cases, also links to their online teaching materials. Most are delivered through Blackboard.

Programme Structure
The MA: DTCE requires you to reach a passable standard in 120 credits of taught
courses and a 60 credit dissertation. It can be studied in the following modes:

• Full-time, on campus (1 year);
• Part-time, on campus (27 months);
• Part-time, by distance learning (27 months or 3 years).

This page also contains information on the Client-Based Project and Independent Supervised Study.

Image: a child using a web site

Units available  2017-2018.


Course Unit Overview

Summaries follow of each core and recommended optional course units on the MA: DTCE.


EDUC70140 Educational Technology and Communication (Core Unit)
Tutor: Drew Whitworth

This unit is the foundation of study on the MA: DTCE and all students, whether full-time, part-time or distance, study it through their first two semesters. It covers (amongst other things):

  • the idea of learning being an interaction with an environment, and the roles that technologies, assumptions about teaching and learning, and forms of organisation, play in shaping this environment
  • basic pedagogical theories and how these are influenced or affected by technology
  • the nature of reflective practice and its importance for the professional development of educators
  • different types of educational technology, and what influence each type can and does have over teaching
  • the role of communication in organisational, community and public life, and communicative approaches to decision making and teaching
  • how ICT and distance learning change the way we organise and think about education
  • different types of communication (written, spoken, non-verbal, computer-mediated, symbolic) and their relevance for education
  • the history of the Internet and how this has affected communication, both online and face-to-face
  • interpersonal communication and reflective practice
  • Appropriate Technology, and what this means for education in the developed world, for those with disabilities, etc.

The unit is assessed by: a 2,500 word essay; your participation in online activities conducted as part of a “working group”, which take place on an ongoing basis through the year; and a critical commentary on a portfolio of work developed either in other DTCE units (for full-time students) or as part of your professional practice (for part-time students). Each of these three elements is graded equally.


EDUC60451: Educational Research Methods (Core Unit for distance students in their final year.)
Tutor: Alison Alborz.

This 15 credit course is Semester 1 focuses on: theories of education research, methodologies, types of data and ethics. Assessment involves you undertaking a data gathering project.


EDUC60452: Educational Research Methods (Core Unit for distance students in their final year.)

This 15 credit course unit in Semester 2 helps you develop a research question and looks at data analysis techniques, helping you progress to your dissertation. Assessment involves you developing a research proposal and a related rationale.


EDUC61711: Digital, Media and Information Literacy (Core Unit)
Tutor: Drew Whitworth

All students take this in their first semester of study. The aim of this unit is two-fold. Firstly, it helps you develop your own academic skills, particularly around the use of the internet to search for information, and then make critical judgments about it, to help you with your studies. Secondly, it introduces you to the theories and literature in the field of information studies and information practice, addressing the importance of these matters for teaching and learning in the modern world. It aims to develop in you the ability to enhance these literacies in others, whether these be future students, colleagues, family members, etc. The unit covers:

  • theories of digital, media and information literacy
  • critical media awareness: how do the broadcast and newspaper media influence our response to information and its use in education?
  • community media and technology education
  • the explosion of information and its effects on learning and thinking: information obesity, or information health?
  • how to instil media and information literacy in ourselves – and our learners
  • information retrieval, searching and evaluation skills

The assessment on this unit requires you to put together a small portfolio (4 activities) of teaching activities or lesson plans relevant to media and information literacy, and to write a self-reflective commentary which places the activities in a wider context.


EDUC 70061: Language Learning and Technology (Core Unit for MA in DTCE – TESOL pathway: it can be taken as an optional unit for the standard MA in DTCE but note that you do need to have had some experience of language teaching)
Tutor: Gary Motteram.

This semester 1 course unit explores a range of technologies (software/ apps, video material, generic tools such as the Internet, word processing etc) used in language teaching and learning with reference to both classroom practice and self-access application. Topics covered include:

Second language learning and the development of digital literacy

  • The nature of reading in a digital world and the development of reading skills through the use of computer-based tasks and the WWW
  • Technology and task and text authenticity
  • ‘Computer’ based and networked writing development
  • Language learning and Web 2.0
  • Synchronous and asynchronous ‘computer’ mediated communication for language learning
  • The role of video texts (analogue and digital) in language learning
  • The impact of technology use on learner talk
  • Digital games
  • Computers and data driven learning


Students on the standard MA: DTCE must take 45 credits of options, which equates to three optional units – all units listed here are 15 credits. Distance learning students have flexibility as to when they take the options, though note that it is not recommended that any distance learning student take any additional options in their very first semester of study.

TESOL pathway students have 30 credits of options, that is, two units. For full-time students these must both be taken in semester 2.

As well as these optional units, to complete your credit load you should also note the possibility of independent supervised study or a client-based project; see below.


EDUC70511: Multimedia Design and Development
Tutor: Susan Brown

This course unit aims to:

  • develop an advanced knowledge and understanding of the role of multimedia in teaching and learning;
  • provide opportunities to analyse and critically reflect on relevant research and theory in relevant subject areas and make use of it to inform the evaluation and development of web-based multimedia materials;
  • provide the opportunity for the development of relevant skills in the development of digital learning materials;
  • understand various aspects of web-based materials including accessibility, appropriate context and pedagogy.

You will have the opportunity to evaluate multimedia learning materials, explore a range of software associated with multimedia learning and design multimedia learning materials for specific learning contexts. The assignment provides two options: You will either evaluate existing multimedia learning materials -which you select -or you will create an exemplar set of multimedia materials. For both options you will provide a rationale for the use of, or creation of the multimedia materials in a specific learning/training context.


EDUC60491:  Theories of Teaching and Learning
Tutor: Mike O’Donoghue

Though the core unit EDUC70410 will cover some basic information on the theories of teaching and learning, this unit will go into more detail about major schools of thought on learning theory, key ideas underpinning theories of teaching and learning and how all of these apply to the debates which arise about teaching and learning in a variety of different institutional, policy and cultural contexts. It would be particularly useful for MA: DTCE students who seek an in-depth understanding of pedagogical theory and practice that can apply in a digital setting. Assessment involves writing an essay.

For those students on the main MA: DTCE pathway, EDUC70061 Language Learning and Technology (see above) is a semester 1 unit, and can be taken as an option by any students with prior language teaching experience. It is not recommended for any students who lack this experience.


EDUC70032: Blended Learning in a Digital Age
Tutor: Susan Brown

There is no one universally agreed definition of ‘blended learning’, though it is commonly perceived in terms of different instructional modes, methods and uses of learning technologies in a range of teaching contexts, both face-to-face and online. The course unit will allow participants to think about the potential of blended learning in their teaching context, what form that blended learning might take and ways of effectively designing blended learning courseware for that context, or aspects of that context.

Specifically the course will cover:

  • understandings of the term ‘blended learning’ in the literature;
  • rationales for blended learning  in different learning contexts;
  • rationales for blending different technologies for learning, e.g.: VLEs with social media (e.g. wiki and podcasting);
  • practical explorations of blended courseware development;
  • instructional design principles as guiding frameworks for the creation of effective blended courseware.
  • evaluation of existing blended courseware.

Assessment involves the development of a detailed plan for the introduction of blended learning into a learning context and critical reflections on that plan.


EDUC61632: Introduction to Educational Video Production
Tutor: Michael O’Donoghue

  • the role of video-based material in teaching
  • practical experience with cameras, microphones, and editing
  • storyboarding and shot selection
  • interviewing techniques
  • ethics and issues of representation and bias.

Students submit an educational video, which forms their assessment, along with a commentary on the production process. Please note that this course unit requires you to have at least some access to a video recording device, though this can include those installed on many mobile telephones these days.

EDUC70050 Teaching and Learning Online
Tutors: Drew Whitworth

Study online for all students; no face-to-face sessions for on campus students; synchronous meetings every 2 weeks in different environments including video conferencing, Second Life.

The experiential aspect of this course unit provides an opportunity for students to explore and reflect on a range of topics intrinsically related to technology use in virtual learning contexts:

  • technology and changing educational horizons
  • distance and distributed learning
  • computer-mediated communications and online learning
  • Web2 and its implications for collaborative learning
  • building online learning community
  • developing learner autonomy
  • technology and teacher training and development

Assessment involves identifying a topic that emerges as relevant through the course of study, and exploring this from a more personal perspective through the analysis of data accumulated throughout the course (eg logs of synchronous meetings, discussion forum contributions, learning diary), and a review of research that can enlighten interpretation and learning.


EDUC71212 Educating for Sustainability
Tutor: Susan Brown

The unit consists of an exploration of key themes, concepts and learning approaches, related to educating for sustainability, authentic case studies from people working in the field and student-centred projects. Specifically the unit covers:

  • An exploration of understandings of the term ‘sustainability’ in various learning contexts including professional training contexts
  • An exploration of key ideas, terms and pedagogical approaches associated with educating for sustainability;
  • Evaluation of existing learning initiatives, activity/course/curriculum development and policy development relating to educating for sustainability;
  • Development of exemplar materials/courseware for different learning contexts

Assessment involves a presentation outlining a proposal for the integration of education for sustainability in a chosen context and a related blog post. Sustainability education is a relatively new focus in the educational field. All students will be viewed as important contributors and collaborators in building understandings of how to appropriately educate for sustainability. In that spirit, students will be encouraged to contribute their thinking (e.g. their assignment proposals) to relevant (online) communities.


EDUC71230 Intercultural Engagement and Work and in Communities
Tutor: Kate Sapin

This unit is focused on social responsibility and offers you the chance to apply the knowledge you have developed in the MA: DTCE to the benefit of a community or local organization. The unit involves a project that is integral to your learning about social responsibility in a real-world setting. For example, a MA: DTCE student may look to create a web site, video or other digital resource on behalf of the community.

Students will carry out supervised practice within an organisation during which time they will undertake a short-term project as well as an analysis of intercultural dialogue either within the organisation or between the organisation and its constituent communities. Students will be able to apply for a work-based learning opportunity from a list of approved local community organisations or can suggest their own location for the work. Within the organisational setting, induction and regular supervision will be provided by a manager to facilitate the student’s introduction to the organisation and its communities and identify a suitable area of work. Two scheduled group tutorials will provide networking opportunities and further ideas for project development.

EDUC71242: Digital Making and Learning
Tutor:Mandi Banks
The module Digital Making and Learning will explore how we learn through making with computational tools.
The module will provide an opportunity to try a number of technologies that are designed to introduce programming techniques through creative making and similarly to develop making abilities with computational concepts. Computational perspectives on learning and mind connect aspects of cognitive science, neuroscience, linguistics, psychology and biology.
This course will explore a high level view of how these theoretical connections influence the design of tools for learning, through a mix of short lectures and practical making activities where we will reflect on the relevant theories through the practice of digital making.
This will take us on a journey through the levels of computation, from physical computing, electronics and IoT (internet of things), through machine code, basic and high level programming, to game and mobile/web app design.
To do this we will use a wide range of software and hardware at an introductory level, to explore what the nature of these tools tells us about learning through computational artefacts.
The tools will include among others: Raspberry Pi, Codebug, Scratch, Greenfoot, Minecraft, StarLogo, Bubble, and MIT App Inventor. We will finally consider what underlying principles of computation might suggest, through developments in artificial intelligence, biological and quantum computing, for the future of education and learning.


The first assessment (20%) is the creation of a concept map to explore a cutting edge area of computation such as quantum computing, big data, machine learning, biological computing, computer vision and haptics (virtual reality related technologies), in terms of its possible implications for education and learning. Students will be introduced to the possibilities in the first week and select an area of interest.

The first practical session will provide space for students to explore these areas with support and set up the initial concept map using a tool of their choice that has a change history functionality, such as Coggle or Mindmeister.

Throughout the following 9 weeks, students will be asked to develop their concept map in relation to developing understanding of computation and the principles underlying these cutting edge technologies. This can be done within the practical session each week. The resulting concept map story will be submitted in week 10.

The main (80%) assessment will require students to make a digital tool (game, animation, mobile app etc.) based on the practical work we do through the course and to reflect on the process of making and evaluating the tool. The last two sessions of the course will be entirely practical workshops, a ‘maker space’ where the making of the tool can be done with support. Each student will use a research method popular in UX (user experience) and HCI (human computer interaction) known as TAP – Think Aloud Protocol to record the process. While making the tool, students will be asked to audio record their thoughts about what they are doing as they do it. They will then give the tool to a peer on the course and ask them to use TAP while they use the tool. Students will then use the audio recordings of themselves during making and their user during use to evaluate their own tool and their making process in a report of not more than 1500 words.


EDUC75000 Dissertation (Core Unit in the final year of study)
Tutor: varies based on the dissertation topic and available academic staff

Initial guidance on the selection of a dissertation topic and a supervisor will be given by the Programme Director.  With appropriate negotiation, the Programme Director will allocate students to supervisors. The core Researching DTCE unit is designed to lead you towards developing a dissertation topic, a task you will start on from the very first weeks of study (if you are a full-time student).

There are two forms of dissertation; a more traditional, research-centered dissertation (known as a “Mode A” dissertation), in which you design and report on a research project, and a “Mode B” dissertation in which the intention is more to design and evaluate an intervention in a teaching setting, such as a change of management practice, a new technological tool, a pedagogical approach using new media, etc. (For more information on this latter approach see the discussion of “client-based projects” below and on

Students are expected to have contact with their supervisor at intervals throughout the dissertation process.  Although individual instances will vary, a student is entitled to up to eight substantive consultations with a supervisor (30-45 minutes).  Dissertations are allocated 600 hours of study time, the vast majority of this will be taken up with your own research and writing up.

The length of your dissertation is 15,000 words for a mode A dissertation and 12,000 words for a mode B dissertation: in the latter case the intervention that you create is also assessed, hence the lower word limit. ±10% of this limit is allowed, as is the case with all written work.

EDUC66011/66012 and EDUC66031/66032 Independent Supervised Study & Client-Based Projects

Either 15 or 30 credits of taught optional course units can be substituted by a period of Independent Supervised Study (ISS) or a Client-Based Project (CBP). These are briefly discussed here. More detail, for CBPs particularly, is at and anyone considering doing such a project should read those pages carefully.

ISS/CBPs are available in either semester. However, they are not recommended for any student in their first semester of study. They can be taken by both on-campus and distance learners.

We recognise that our portfolio of course units will not necessarily meet everyone’s requirements. There are two ways in which you can engage in a project which might more directly meet certain employment needs or other interests not otherwise catered for on the DTCE programmes.

Independent Supervised Study enables you, in consultation with a supervisor, to design a “mini-course” with its own learning objectives and assessment – usually an essay, but not always. Usually this is done when you have a specialist interest which we cannot otherwise cater for. For instance, a student recently designed an ISS that allowed her to look into the work which had been done on using digital technologies to help adults who lacked basic literacy skills. No such unit was available anywhere in the school, but this gave her the opportunity to design her own. (60 credit ISSs are not available, but this is simply because your final dissertation serves the same purpose.)

Client-Based Projects involve students working as teaching or development assistants with “clients” who may be staff members of the MA: DTCE, other teaching staff in the School of Education, their own employing organisation, a school or college in their locality or any other organisation which agrees to participate. They will work with the client to assess a problem or other context in which some kind of intervention is required, whether this be a new technological tool, a new way of working, a new approach to communication, etc. The intervention will then be designed, tested or piloted, implemented and evaluated. CBPs are also available in 60-credit form, as the Mode B dissertation.

Please bear the following in mind if you are interested in undertaking an ISS or CBP:

  • Neither is recommended for students in their very first semester of study (thus, if you are a full-time student, you would only be able to do one in semester 2).
  • A maximum of one period of ISS/CBP can be done as part of your degree. A 30-credit ISS/CBP must be a single project, not two 15-credit ones.
  • You can be part of a team which completes the actual work: it does not have to be a “solo” project. It may be possible to collaborate with another student on the same project, but please discuss this with us in advance.
  • Contact the Programme Director in the first instance if interested. Particularly with CBPs, you are advised to start discussions very early, as for various reasons these can be complicated to sort out with respect to the ways the university has to work administratively.


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Credit loads and assessment

Three possibilities are available to students wishing to partake of this opportunity.

60 credit option. Here, the work is done in the form of a Mode B Dissertation. The length of the final report is 10,000 – 15,000 words. The following should be included and each is assessed:

  • assessment of context and requirements capture
  • justification of design decisions taken (with reference to academic literature where appropriate)
  • the testing/piloting and evaluation
  • the design itself (as with any mode B dissertation, the quality of the actual intervention is judged and this forms part of the grade for the work; note that this is why Mode B dissertations are otherwise shorter than Mode A (a traditional research-based dissertation))
  • self-reflection on the process.

30 credit option. This uses 30 credits of independent supervised study. Length: 6,000 – 7,000 words. The following will be assessed:

  • assessment of context and requirements capture
  • justification of design decisions taken (with reference to literature)
  • testing/piloting and evaluation
  • self-reflection on the process.

15 credit option. This uses 15 credits of ISS. Length: 3,000 – 3,500 words. The following will be assessed:

  • assessment of context and requirements capture
  • justification of design decisions taken (with reference to literature)
  • self-reflection on the process.

It is expected that the credits awarded will also reflect the size of the design task itself. 15-credit projects, particularly, will only be expected to be small, possibly “one-off” pieces of work, of a size no larger than would be expected in any other 15-credit practical course unit (e.g. a very small web site, a single Flash movie, a single teaching and learning activity, etc.). Students should determine which credit award is appropriate, in discussions with the Programme Director and/or their potential supervisor (see below).

15- or 30-credit CBPs will be considered options: they cannot replace core course units. A 60-credit CBP, on the other hand, will suffice as the dissertation for the MA: DTCE.

PG Certificate students can only study for a 15-credit CBP. PG Diploma students can study for a 15- or 30-credit CBP. CBPs will normally be undertaken by individual students but in some circumstances, joint projects will be considered. However, final reports will remain individual pieces of work.

The timescale for CBPs will vary, but students must bear in mind that the actual enrolment will take place in accordance with university timetables. In other words, submission of the final report must take place either: in mid-January (for 15 or 30 credit CBPs on which the student is enrolled in semester 1); in late May (15/30 credits in semester 2); or in accordance with dissertation deadlines of 30th April/1st September (for 60 credit CBPs). Nevertheless, around these dates, there is considerable flexibility, including the possibility that work could be undertaken during the summer months.
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What should the intervention be?

The intervention does not have to be ICT- or teaching-based, though both are likely to feature heavily bearing in mind the innate biases of the degree. However, in addition (or alongside) such pedagogical/technological interventions, work could be done to solve problems which are administrative; procedural; communicative; managerial and so on. The work might involve the creation of a tangible digital object such as a web site, Flash movie or other similar application, or the use of a CMS, blog, interactive whiteboard etc.: but it might also involve more general work (for example, a new approach to the teaching of media literacy); a staff development initiative; rethinking the information management or communications practices within a training organisation; and so forth. Indeed, virtually anything is possible as long as it can be argued to fit within the degree goals as noted above.

If the intervention is something which cannot be easily submitted for assessment – e.g. it is a class-based intervention of some kind – the student needs to arrange with the supervisor some way for the latter to view the intervention. This might involve making a video of a class, or arranging for an observation to take place. Note that this is not necessarily an issue for 30- or 15-credit CBPs, though even here, it is likely the final report will need to refer to the intervention itself in order to make its academic points.

While they may, of course, assess the quality of the intervention (and the design process) according to their own needs, the client will not be involved in the award of credits. No information will be solicited from the client regarding students’ performance on the design task beyond what is necessary for the maintenance of good relations. However, in that there may be occasions on which the client needs or wishes to contact us directly, the supervisor will act as the first point of contact between the MA: DTCE and the client.
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How can students develop a CBP?

There are two main ways. First, the student may have a project in mind prior to making the request, either because it is relevant to their (or their employers’) current work practice, or through personal connections. Second, MA: DTCE staff will develop over time a menu of projects with which we are in need of help or, possibly, of “commissions” which have been passed to us. This list will be publicly available (via the web site, and it is up to students who are interested in one (or more) of the projects to take the initiative and contact us about them. It is not the supervisor’s (or other staff members’) job to find projects for students, beyond providing this list. Students should not apply for a placement “on spec”.

An application form will be made available and should be completed by the student for submission to the Programme Director. Application will also involve a supporting statement being secured from the potential client. Note that applications may be refused if the PD is unsatisfied that:

  • the aims and objectives of the project have been clearly specified.
  • permission has been granted by the client and the client will properly support the student.
  • the size of the project is appropriate to the number of credits being awarded, and the suggested deadline is feasible. (Changes may be suggested to both.)

We foresee a fluid approach to the development of CBPs. Some projects might develop over many months, both in terms of discussions with clients/supervisors and and the actual work itself. This may therefore extend beyond the bounds of the actual semester in which the student is registered on the CBP and submits the assessment. (A 30-credit placement should be enrolled on in a single block of credits, rather than two separate 15-credit ones.) On the other hand, some may move from initial idea to completion quite rapidly, say within a few weeks. Therefore, in order to retain as much flexibility as possible, no fixed deadlines are imposed on applications for CBPs. Interested students can and should start enquiries with both potential clients and supervisors at any time. At that point, the scale of the project can be judged and suggestions made as to how many credits will be appropriate, what submission deadline should be targeted, and how all these factors will influence the students’ overall MA: DTCE timetable.

However, that it is not recommended that students undertake a CBP in their first semester of study. This means that full-time on-campus students will only be able to undertake CBPs in the period January – September each year.
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All CBPs will be supervised, though the exact level and nature of this supervision process is open to negotiation between the student, the supervisor, and the client.

Normally, the students’ Personal Tutor would supervise the work but as with any other dissertation (or similar) project, if the PD believes that a different supervisor would be more appropriate to the project, then providing all parties agree, a switch will be made.

CBPs where a member of MA: DTCE staff is acting as the client will involve a third party as supervisor: one person cannot be both client and supervisor. Once the report is produced, it will be treated as any other assessed work submitted for a Mode B dissertation or ISS, that is, the supervisor will act as the first marker; second and external marking will be used where necessary; and all procedures with respect to extensions, late submission, academic malpractice and so on remain in place.

The application form can be downloaded from the MA DTCE common room on Blackboard.
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