1.8.1: The New Philosophy
Durham University acknowledges the potential of the revised post 16 curriculum and welcomes too, the increased opportunity for study of a wider range of subjects to a higher level. We welcome the move towards a coherent national framework of academic and vocational qualifications that will more easily provide comparability between qualifications.
The encouragement of numerous flexible learning patterns, through an increased breadth of study (by mixing vocational and academic qualifications, by allowing a greater number of smaller units of study, by encouraging the acquisition of Key Skills qualifications) and the maintained potential for in depth study will, we hope, allow all students to demonstrate their full potential. Providing greater opportunities for potential to be realised should allow greater flexibility to aid life-long learning and promote access, motivation and attainment.
Durham University is fortunate to receive applications from a very large number of well-qualified people. The primary entry criterion is academic performance and potential; we assess students on their potential to achieve a high level of understanding in their chosen academic discipline based on their previous and forecast academic performance. In addition, we are concerned to ensure that when students start their course, they have knowledge of their chosen discipline and learning skills sufficient to advance quickly without the need for remedial support. This is more critical in some disciplines than others; in general it is science subjects that will require new students to have acquired a certain set of skills and knowledge in their post 16 curriculum, whereas in a number of arts and social science subjects, particularly those subjects which students tend not to have studied before coming up to university, we will accept new students who have a broad background in related fields.
Applicants need to demonstrate a broad and high level of achievement at an advanced level. We require students to demonstrate the skills necessary to study at degree level; a formal Key Skills qualification is one way in which such skills can be evidenced but it is not the only way. Achievement can be demonstrated through extra curricular activities, wider study or the attainment of Key Skills. However, applicants for all subjects will be disadvantaged if they are not able to demonstrate concentrated study at an advanced level. We do not want students to sacrifice depth for greater breadth. There is a potential tension between satisfying the two requirements of breadth and focused advanced study; we hope the guidance contained in this initial statement will enable students to make the appropriate curriculum decisions for their circumstances.