How do we define a module as ‘irrelevant’ to our course?

By Kristiyana Hristova

 We recently had a discussion on the SocialMet facebook page about having modules that might appear ‘irrelevant’ to the course a person is doing or ‘irrelevant’ to their end goal. That made me realise that I am maybe not one of those students who mind doing ‘irrelevant’ modules, but that’s because I don’t know what the future holds and what knowledge will come in useful.

The question is: how do we define a module to be ‘irrelevant’ to our course and what are the criteria?

I wonder how some students know that modules are ‘irrelevant’ – maybe on the basis of the type of course they are doing or in respect to their career goals? I don’t know. Nevertheless, I believe that the university will not offer as choices modules ‘immaterial’ of course content. Life is so unpredictable, and we, as people, are constantly changing; we don’t know how life may turn around and what ‘irrelevant’ knowledge may become useful. At very least, those ‘inapplicable’ modules can give us a different perspective, open up our minds and make us re-evaluate our way of looking at things. I believe the initial idea of higher education is not only to provide knowledge, but also to broaden horizons and develop skills (especially the skill to think analytically). So even if a module is ‘extraneous’, it can give us a disparate insight of the same field of knowledge we operate in, and further advance our skills. On the other hand, even if a person knows exactly what they want in life, that does not mean what they want will happen; or even if it does happen it may turn out to be quite different than what that person has imagined it to be. Furthermore, the world changes and evolves perpetually so what is ‘relevant’ for a profession now may not be so ‘relevant’ in 5 years time and vice versa. On the whole, if we cannot change that ‘irrelevant’ module, we can embrace it and take a full advantage of it in terms of broadening our knowledge and developing skills.

However, having to study modules a student may not have chosen or chosen because there were no other alternatives can be very frustrating. Some students do know what they want to do in life, they have a clear idea what they truly want to work at, hence they may know which modules are ‘relevant’ to their professional goal. In addition, students here pay relatively high student fees compared to other countries in Europe and we (students) expect to get what we pay for; or at least we expect the university to take into account our interests and provide us with module opportunities that enhance our interests. The number of modules that we have (4 modules per semester) is limited as it is now so why study something ‘irrelevant’ when we can do a more knowledge/skills-efficient module? The bad news is that from next year the course structures change and students will have 4 ‘year-long’ modules* and that would additionally narrow down our choices. Unfortunately we (students) do not have much say in those strategic corporate decisions even though we are the ones most affected by them.

All in all, the modules we do are not always our own choice and so they may not be ‘relevant’ to our course. However, keep an open mind since you do not know how life may turn out and make the most of it! You do not know what knowledge might be useful in the future!

* NB for advice and information on ‘year-long’ modules, please ask your course leader or PAA.