On Friday, Chris Tarren said that he was interested in studying archaeology
up to degree level but found the prospect of becoming a mature full-time
student quite daunting. He then asked about distance learning courses.
My Department here at Edinburgh University has just got the go-ahead and the
funding to work on the large amount of open learning course materials that
we have accumulated in order to develop a suite of distance learning
courses, starting at advanced continuing education and first year
undergraduate level. Provided we can get started in the next few weeks, we
hope to roll the first courses out in January 2002. By 2003 we plan to have
the whole of our first and second level teaching available as distance
learning units. Thereafter there are plans to develop at least some of the
advanced undergraduate courses as distance learning options.
What we shall not be able to do is to offer an undergraduate degree with
honours in archaeology by distance learning. Our University's degree
regulations require students to include courses in subjects other than
archaeology in the early years of study, and it will be some time before
enough subjects are offered via distance learning to permit that. What our
University does have (and this is not a sales pitch) is an option for a
part-time undergraduate degree - and I am sure that other universities must
have similar options, even if they are not well advertised.
What we are hoping to be able to offer is the opportunity to begin the study
of university level archaeology through distance learning, and then carry it
on to degree level (in our case it would be a B.Sc. (Soc. Sci.)) as
part-time students. I must emphasise, however, that this is an aspiration on
our part at present. There is not yet a formal path that offers the student
a distance learning start followed by a period of part-time study leading to
a degree. Since ours will be the first undergraduate level courses in our
university by distance learning, there are still a few wrinkles to iron out
on the path to a degree.
Dr Trevor Watkins
University of Edinburgh
Department of Archaeology