Things to consider when choosing your option modules
Studying a new degree is a challenge in many ways and it requires doing research about the university and the course to take, all at early stages of the process. Looking into the modules offered by a course seems to be the most important one to many, including me. In fact, it most likely becomes the reason someone is deciding to either do or not do a course programme. In general, course modules are categorised as two: core and option. Term 1 usually consists of only cores. In Term 2 and forward, students will normally have to take several option modules in addition to the core ones and the decision-making for which option modules to take can be quite stressful for some students. It took me long enough to consider before finally choosing two option modules to complete the rest of 30 credits for my second term. In this post, I will highlight what things you might want to consider when choosing your option modules. The things I will be sharing here are based on my own thoughts and my colleagues’. The tips are made for all students in general, but you will find them most useful if you are to commence MA TESOL at Warwick.
First, let’s look at the following web page screenshot of the course programme I’m currently a part of. The look of the main page for other courses might be similar to this. There will be course description, followed by the information for the course structure and the list of modules to take (see the example in the green box within the picture below).
For my course (MA TESOL), the number of credits for each module is written next to the list, but even if it is not there, it can still be found in the module catalogue which I will discuss later. In the following picture, it is stated how many credits I can take for the option modules.
If we only look at the above list, it will not be as helpful for students to decide which modules to take because there is no further explanation on how the modules are conducted, what the focus of each module is and who will best benefit from the modules. The university’s module catalogue can be the savior for this confusion.
To access module catalogue, we only need to go to courses.warwick.ac.uk and type one of the option module name (which we can find within the course main page) in the search bar of the module catalogue page (see the picture below as reference).
Through this very useful site, you can find the details of each module, including the module’s description and duration, study time and location, assessment, availability, leader, and more. I would say, doing research on each module through this catalogue alone will help us with deciding which modules to take. At least, we can know which modules spark our interests after reading the information there.
Sometimes, the course staff also help with this matter by holding a meeting with the whole new cohorts to introduce the option modules. From my experience, that event helped me a lot with my decision. The leader of each option module explained in detail about the key points and interesting parts of their module and what we can benefit from taking that module. However, after all, the decision is on you to take and to best do this, you need to think about some considerations to choose certain option modules which best suit your needs and capacity. Below I will share some of the reasons that may drive students’ decision-making for option modules in their course.
- Career development Most option modules are established to complete the academic and professional needs of students in addition to the main focus of the course. For example, in MA TESOL, the core modules revolve around applied linguistics (and its application in English language teaching), and the teaching and learning of English as second or foreign language itself. The option modules offered in the course cover wider areas within and outside teaching and linguistics. Most students choose option modules that are in line with current job or the available opportunity for promotion in their current workplace. In some institutions, English teachers (or teachers in general) can have an opportunity to level up into managerial roles, curriculum developer, or trainer.
- Learning new skillsTaking option modules can be a good chance for students to develop new skills which can be added to their CV and help them do their current or future job better.
- CAT (Credit value)This is rarely considered by many, but in my course, it is. The bigger the credit value is, the more workload will be. This will be reflected in both the study throughout the term and the assessments to do in order to pass the module. Twenty-credit modules may require student more readings and seminars during the term and more assignments to submit for the final assessment. For example, I took an option module that weighs 20 credits and the there were two types of assignments for that module alone. One presentation and the other was an essay with 3500 words count. So, you might want to think carefully which credit value is up to your expectation and capacity.
- Personal interestHaving modules that suit your interest is a benefit as they may motivate you better. In my course, some students who like kids may choose the module related to teaching young learners and those who are interested in plays and dramas may choose the module about dramas in TESOL. It is always fun to study what you like, right?
- Filling in the gaps in our professional (teaching) contextA good example to this is the application of technology in teaching and learning processes during the global pandemic of Covid-19. Such needs of advanced skill of use of technology was not in line with teachers’ capacity in that area. Many teachers struggled to use technology in their teaching and this drive some students in my course take the option module related to the application of information and technology for teaching English. If you see that you can fill the missing parts or gaps in your context by taking one or more option modules in your course, you might want to consider including those modules in your list.
- Previously taken modules Some students may not want to take option modules which are very closely related to the ones they have studied during their previous education or those taken in previous terms at Warwick. Choosing the modules which are completely new can be more interesting and a good source of new knowledge.
Those are all for this post. Hopefully, after reading this, you can better decide which option modules to take, so they can benefit you and your career plan or development.