Broadening education choices

Students can broaden their intellectual horizons outside or within their subject areas through discovery themes and other opportunities made available to them.

Below you can find detailed information about our core programme threads - which should be incorporated into all students' courses - and the discovery themes and modules which students can take to broaden their education.

Core programme threads

The core programme threads of employability, global and cultural insight and ethics and responsibility should be incorporated into all programmes in the context of the discipline to guarantee all students are exposed to each of them whatever course or modules they take. 

All University of Leeds programmes will provide:

  • exposure for all students to all threads
  • exposure to threads at more than one level
  • assessment of activities which constitute the threads ie, students will be able to show evidence of their exposure to, and progression within the threads, by reference to formative or summative assessments or learning activities.
Broadening and discovery themes

  • To allow students to adapt the knowledge from their primary discipline in different ways and to different contexts, which could take the form of:
  • Testing of discipline-specific knowledge in relation to other academic contexts, approaches and debates; thus developing inter-disciplinary perspectives and sharpening vital transferable skills in critical thinking, evidence evaluation, debate, communications etc.
  • Adapting discipline-specific knowledge to contexts (both vocational and non-vocational) beyond the University.
  • Training to develop skills (languages, IT, communication techniques) which could enable a broader and more flexible approach to the primary discipline, and/or an approach applying  disciplinary understanding to  specific careers contexts.
  • Specific skills development to reinforce the employability outcomes of the primary degree subject, including placements, project work, collaborative work.

To allow students to undertake subjects outside of their main discipline, this could include:
  • Opportunities to undertake modules outside their discipline to address personal interests or explore new ideas, under particular themes.
  • Opportunities to diversify the individual student curriculum to address an identified need (such as a second subject for those going into secondary school teaching or the acquisition of a language to enable an international profession).
  • Opportunities to add academic value to the University of Leeds graduate; this is potentially an alternative logic for modules developing skills/understanding of foreign languages, computing, etc.
  • Opportunities to gain understanding of commercial environments, enterprise and entrepreneurship.
  • It has been agreed that the Discovery Themes define the breadth of the curriculum. Most students will engage with Broadening through taking Discovery Modules but some will engage with the Discovery Themes through their programme of study.
Discovery theme

‘A coordinated and structured series of related discovery modules allowing sustained exploration of a specific subject, issue or skill which lies beyond the primary disciplinary content of a student’s programme.’

Discovery themes:
  • have a clear focus but include a range of alternative modules – allowing choice for students and some flexibility in timetabling around study for the home degree
  • offer modules over at least 2 levels (and ideally 3 levels) to allow for progression
  • are constructed so as to ensure that a student who exits after study at only one level also has a satisfactory and stimulating experience are sufficiently flexible to accommodate unorthodox progression paths – eg a student who begins a strand at L1, exits for a year and subsequently re-enters, or a student who exits one strand after L1 and begins another at L2. In some cases, however, such ‘transfers’ would continue to be subject to completion of an appropriate prerequisite.
Discovery modules

Discovery modules should:

  • be appropriate to be taken by students from outside the discipline
  • provide opportunities for student engagement in addition to large-group lecturing so as to facilitate deeper learning and academic/ social interaction between individuals drawn from different degree programmes
  • normally be 10 or 20 credits so that they can be more readily accommodated within the home programme of the discovery student
  • prerequisites for discovery modules are discouraged to allow student mobility. Where prerequisites are necessary, they should be as wide as possible (eg maths at A level or skills requirement) and avoid listing specific modules. Where modules are listed, they should be Discovery modules and ideally a range of Discovery modules from a relevant Discovery Theme
All discovery modules will form part of a discovery theme. The themes are:

  • Creating Sustainable Futures
  • Enterprise and Innovation
  • Ethics, Religion and Law
  • Exploring the Sciences
  • Languages and Intercultural Understanding
  • Media, Culture and Creativity
  • Mind and Body
  • Personal and Professional Development
  • Power and Conflict
  • Technology and its Impacts
Discovery Theme and sub-theme titles, as well as contact details for Discovery Theme Leaders are available on the Discovery Themes website