When I was asked to write an article on my student days at Plymouth University Faculty of Arts and Education at Exmouth, I was flattered. What an opportunity for a budding historian to extol the virtues of studying history for three years at such a pleasant place. Exmouth enjoys a superb position situated at the entrance to the River Exe. Across the estuary are the resorts of Dawlish and Teignmouth. Exmouth possesses, just a few minutes from the Campus, two miles of sandy beach. The town has a variety of shops as well as a small theatre, and the Pavilion on the seafront is the venue for a wide range of entertainment for students.
For those seeking the bright lights of a city, Exeter is only twelve miles away. It is a very pleasant compact historical city with the usual modern facilities. In contrast, for those seeking solitude, while trying to work out how to meet three assignment deadlines in two days, Dartmoor is only another 20 miles further west.
Although I did not live in hall and experience the highs and lows of student life, I and my fellow mature students did enjoy aspects of college life, such as frequenting the bar and attending the various balls held throughout the year. There is a very active student union which has many societies from which to choose. If a particular interest is not catered for, students are encouraged to start one. Events such as the termly balls are run by the union, as is the `freshers fortnight' during which first-year students discover the watering holes and night clubs of the town. There are extensive playing fields situated within walking distance of the Campus.
The degree course at Exmouth which I undertook commenced in September 1998, following a year on an Access programme at Exeter College which proved a good introduction For over 40 years I had dreamed of fulfilling an ambition to study history Now, after a long career in the Defence Industry, I had the opportunity. Although it was a daunting step returning to Higher Education, as it is for so many, I was at least familiar with the Campus, as my daughter had recently completed her degree. She left shortly before I arrived -- much to her relief.
But why study at Exmouth? There were four reasons. First, the university was local. Secondly, I knew that it had a good academic reputation. Thirdly, it attracted significant numbers of mature students. Finally, the Campus itself was small and, with a student population of around 2,000, made for a friendly and supportive atmosphere.
Despite the attractions of East Devon there comes a time when work has to be done. History is an integral part of the Combined Arts Programme. This meant that all students in my first year studied two subjects, History as a major and the other as a minor from a variety of options such as English, Theatre, Music, Education studies or American studies. In future I would like to see the range of options extended to include politics and law. This would extend the scope of the Faculty and hopefully attract more students. Currently these subjects are offered on the Plymouth campus. In the second and final years, a student could, under the scheme, switch to English as a major and History as a minor. Or alternatively History can be studied as a single subject in years two and three. In addition, certain history modules are studied by those on the four year BA QTS course who intend to specialise in history when they start their teaching careers.
I chose American studies as my minor subject in my first year as this was a country I had visited and there was a cross-flow of information between American studies and the American History modules. During the first year the marks achieved do not count towards the final degree classification, which is determined by results achieved during years two and three. History is taught throughout the course by means of lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. …