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Studying the arts and humanities

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This free course is an introduction to studying the arts and humanities. It takes you through a series of exercises designed to develop your approach to study and learning at a distance and improve your confidence as an independent learner.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand more clearly the reasons for studying the arts and humanities
  • demonstrate an awareness of the basic skills and techniques for studying at a distance.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 4 hours
  • Updated Wednesday 27th January 2016
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under History & The Arts
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2 Reasons for choosing to study the arts


Why have you chosen this course?

Please jot down your reasons for choosing this course, either in your notebook or in the course Forum. We suggest you list six points, but it doesn't matter if you record less than six reasons or whether you want to write more. Remember, there are no wrong or right answers here!


It doesn't matter if you wrote down six reasons or whether you listed more, but we hope that you wrote something. This may seem a small point, but it is important. Learning on your own – without being able to question, or discuss, ideas with others – is a technique that has to be learned; and perhaps the first step towards this is to practise being active in the learning process. Distance-learning resources are normally written in ways to encourage you to develop as an independent, reflective learner. One of the ways in which this is done is by asking you, the learner, to note down your responses to questions posed in the text.

So, now let us return to your reasons for choosing this course. First, though, you may like to know of some of the reasons given by learners registered with the OU to study the arts and humanities:

I was good at English and history at school. I think I'll enjoy studying them further.

I never did all I could at school and I wasted my time. Now that I have a chance to do some study I want to take it.

I've spent some years doing a job which does not particularly interest me, and I need some kind of intellectual challenge. I want to meet other students, too.

I have always promised myself that I would find out what arts subjects are all about, and now I have the time.

How do these reasons compare with the ones you wrote down? If they make you want to add to your own list, please do so. We want you to end up with a list of no more than six reasons that begin to identify why you have chosen to study the arts. Once you have your list, please go on to the next exercise

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