New Arts Degree at AIT Benefits from Secondary Student Feedback

Students from two Athlone secondary schools participated in the development of a new arts degree to be offered by Athlone Institute of Technology from this September. According to the Head of Humanities at AIT, Dr Marian Fitzgibbon, the students’ feedback was of considerable assistance in improving the new course.

Fifth and sixth year students from the Our Lady’s Bower and the Marist College met with members of AIT’s course development team in two separate sessions last year. The students were presented with information about the degree, a BA (Honours) in Society and Communications, and gave their feedback, which was then taken on board by the academics.

Amongst the viewpoints expressed by the students was that the new degree would be of greater benefit in securing employment than a traditional arts degree. This was attributed to the work placement element and also to the fact that students will get to apply the skills and knowledge acquired on the course through a final year major project. According to one student, in developing your communication skills, the course “prepares you for any job”.

They also voiced their opinions on the relationship between technology and the humanities, on the importance of innovation and creativity, and on the nature of society. The students suggested additional modules that could form part of the degree, including subjects drawn from other academic disciplines.

The BA (Honours) in Society and Communications is a four-year programme that will give students a sophisticated understanding of personal communication, interpersonal relationships and society as a whole. They will study different cultural forms of expression such as literature, film, design and music; and will be exposed to psychology, politics and law.

A novel aspect of the degree is the emphasis on modern means of communication, such as social media and Web 2.0 technologies, like Facebook, YouTube and Bebo. Studying these most contemporary forms of communication as part of an arts degree will give graduates valuable experience in how technology enables organisations to communicate in new and innovative ways.

According to Dr Fitzgibbon, “employer-based research indicated that graduates from the new degree will find work in a wide range of settings including social and community service, local government and development agencies, outreach schemes, NGOs, charitable organisations, business, journalism and media organisations, arts organisations and tourism bodies. We are holding discussions with the Teaching Council to gain programme recognition for entry to teacher training programmes and are confident that this will be secured,” she added.

For more information about this course please visit the Athlone Institute of Technology’s website http://www.ait.ie

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