Delta Tips 12: Writing a Module 3 Essay – Course Proposal

This is the twelfth in a series of blog posts I’m doing in response to the number of Delta-related searches that bring visitors to my blog. Each post in this Delta Tips series will deal with a different element of the Delta, based on my experience of doing it (and surviving to tell the tale! ) at Leeds Met

 The module 3 extended specialism essay is a very special beast. If you thought Cambridge were demanding in their criteria for Module 2 LSA’s or perversely picky in how they want you to answer Module 1 exam questions – you’d be right! But, it’s nothing compared to what they demand you fit in to a measly 4500 words for Module 3…

  • For an overview of what’s required and tips for starting out, look at Delta Tips 9 
  • For information about writing the first section of the essay – the introduction – look at Delta Tips 10.
  • For help with the second section of the essay – the needs analysis – try Delta Tips 11
  • The focus of this post will be the third section – the course proposal.

So, you’ve researched your specialism and identified all the inherent issues, carried out a meticulously detailed needs analysis, synthesised all the information it yielded and you’re ready to proceed. What comes next? Creating a coherent 20-hour course, whose content responds to the issues and learner needs unearthed in sections 1 and 2.

There are two parts to this:

  • essay section part 3 (+- 1100 words), in which you discuss the content and structure of your course
  • the course map, which goes into your essay appendices

NB: There should be clear links between the two, funnily enough…

There are multiple things to remember and refer back to when you are designing your course:

  • Your secondary research findings from section 1
  • Your needs analysis data from section 2
  • Principles of course and syllabus design (these should influence your course proposal!)
  • Learning aims and objectives (which you will have decided upon based on your secondary research and needs analysis)
  • Institutional constraints
  • How the various strands of your course relate and interact (colours and arrows will become your friends)

Within the course proposal, you need to:

  • show the examiners how savvy you are about principles/theories relating to course/syllabus design (remember, show off!)
  • show the examiners that you are not a plagiarist (i.e. reference all the wonderful principles/theories alluded to above).
  • explain in no uncertain terms how the afore-mentioned principles have informed your course map.
  • make it blindingly obvious how your course proposal responds to issues identified in part 1 and learners needs (by now thoroughly analysed) from part 2.
  • draw the examiner’s attention to your learning aims and objectives (which will of course be clearly mapped to your learners needs…), teaching approaches, course content and your choice of materials. These will of course all be thoroughly justified/rationalised.
  • reassure the examiners that your head is not in the clouds – your course proposal (and map) should not only be operable in cloud cuckoo land.
  • refer to your course map a) so that it is clear that your course proposal and your course map are hand in glove and b) to make it easier for the examiner to see that your course map does what you claim it does. (Remember, you want the examiner to like you! 😉 )

Within the course map, you need to:

  • provide sufficient detail regarding the content of your course (“Lesson 1 – a bit of reading and a few discussion questions” does not count as sufficient detail :-p)
  • give some indication of how the content maps to your part 1 issues and part 2 learner needs.
  • make reference to any materials you include in your appendices (you are not “required” to put any samples of teaching materials in your appendices but you “may” – including some is probably going to be a good thing!). This is as simple as brackets and appendix number next to mention of the materials in question e.g. material x (A2.iii)

Tips for doing all this successfully:

  • use arrows and/or colour in your course map: these make it easier to demonstrate links to theory/issues/needs and inclusion of key content. (Otherwise, find another way to make this blindingly obvious to the poor examiner who is on his twentieth script and getting really bored/tired :-p)
  • use sub-headings in your course proposal: don’t just include everything that is required, take the examiner by the hand and show him/her *exactly* where that essential information is.  (You could use the “guiding” questions on page 73 of the Delta Handbook to help you formulate your subheadings…)
  • don’t include content in your course map for the sake of it: show how the content you are including helps you/your learners meet your learning objectives (which are based on their needs and the implications inherent in your specialism).
  • don’t just copy out a course book syllabus: the course book wasn’t made with your group of learners in mind, to meet their specific needs. Sorry. 😉 If you use any published materials within your course, make sure you thoroughly justify why you have chosen them and how they meet your learners’ needs.
  • Think “why”/”how” not just “what”: 
    • Why does your course represent the best way of meeting your learners’ needs and fulfilling the learning aims/objectives that arise from these?
    • Why have you chosen to follow these principles/theories of course design and not any others?
    • Why are you including this content?
    • Why are you using that set of materials?
    • Why are you using this approach?
    • How will your choices with regards to all of these benefit your learners more than another set of choices could?

And make your answers to these questions clear to your examiner through your course proposal.

  • Read pages 72 and 73 of your handbook: Then read them again.  Then make sure you’ve read them properly.
  • Don’t make life complicated: A 20hr course is required. Not 25, not 30…so don’t do more than 20! More than 20 hours is “acceptable” but do you really want to produce the level of detail required for more than the number of hours required? (The answer is “no”…)

Final tips:

Don’t underestimate how much time you will need to produce a 20hr course map that is sufficiently detailed.

Don’t waste any opportunity to get feedback from your module tutor – if your course proposal/map doesn’t make sense to your tutor, it is highly unlikely to make sense to your examiner (however much sense it may make to you!) Better to find out from your tutor than the examiner… 😉

As usual, be ready to draft and redraft your course proposal. You are unlikely to get it right first time. There’s always room for improvement! 🙂

Don’t underestimate the power of arrows and colours! 🙂 (For a lesson in using arrows to good effect, just look to trusty Tricia Hedge’s Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom…)

Some potentially useful resources:

Graves, K (2001) Organizing the course in Designing Language Courses. Newbury House Teacher Development.

Graves, K (2008) The Language Curriculum: A social contextual perspective in Language Teaching vol. 41/2. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

Hall, G.(2011) Planning and organizing L2 learning and teaching. in Exploring English Language Teaching: Language in Action. Routledge. Oxon.

Hedge, T.(2000) Course Design in Planning and Assessing Learning in Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom.

Nation P. and Macalister J.(2010) Language Curriculum Design. Routledge. Oxon.

Richards, J.(2001) Course planning and syllabus design in Curriculum Development in Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

Richards, J. (2001) Planning goals and learning outcomes in Curriculum Development in Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

But don’t forget:.

Resources relating to teaching and learning theories relevant to your learners’ needs and your specialism! (E.g. if your course has a heavy listening/speaking focus, as dictated by your learners’ needs and requirements related to your specialism, you might like to think about including reference to theory related to the teaching of listening and speaking, both in your proposal in terms of approaches and in your course map in terms of how your content maps to theory.)

Persevere!!!!

It will feel really good when you *finally* fill in the final arrow and highlight and change the font colour for the final time! And you will/should also learn a lot in the process of putting together the course map and accompanying section three course proposal. Make the most of it! 🙂

Coming soon: Tips for the Assessment  section! Stay tuned, if you can bear it… ;-) (Update: You can now find tips for the assessment section here.)

If you think I am wrong in anything I’ve said or that I’ve missed anything useful from this section, then please comment and I will add whatever is missing to this post!

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6 thoughts on “Delta Tips 12: Writing a Module 3 Essay – Course Proposal

  1. Pingback: Useful links for Delta | Sandy Millin

  2. Pingback: Delta Tips 11: Writing a Module 3 Essay – the needs analysis section | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

  3. Pingback: Delta Tips 13: Writing a Module 3 Essay – the Assessment | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

  4. Pingback: Delta Tips 14: Writing a Module 3 Essay – the conclusion and wrapping things up! | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

  5. Pingback: Delta Examples 3: Module 3 essay – Course Proposal | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

  6. Pingback: Doing the Cambridge Delta: A Guide | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

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