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First flexible online degree goes live at Sussex

The first University of Sussex degree to be taught entirely online has launched with its inaugural cohort of students. 

In November 2017, the University signed a 10-year partnership with online-learning experts Pearson to deliver a number of postgraduate qualifications online. The courses can be studied anywhere in the world, at a time and pace to suit each student. 

The first course, an MSc in International Marketing, went live this week, with a particular focus on digital marketing, customer relationships and consumer psychology in an international business context.  

Rene Moolenaar, convenor of the online Global Marketing Management module, says: “Developing a new module for online distance learning provides many pedagogically interesting opportunities.

“For example, to facilitate learning between students and to foster a genuine community feel, we decided to pair-up students to work on the assignment of developing an international marketing plan for the introduction of a product or service in each other’s country.

“In addition, there will be a number of live sessions, facilitated by the tutor, to peer review work submitted by students and to provide feedback and feed forward.

“The next exciting opportunity is the utilisation of the online material in our on-campus teaching.”

Further courses are set to follow, with an MSc in Energy Policy expected to start in January 2019 and an MSc in Sustainable Development in summer 2019. 

All teaching will be delivered by University of Sussex academics, giving students access to a dedicated support network and providing a highly interactive experience.

To support the development and delivery of these courses, a central team has been established within Technology Enhanced Learning, led by Dr David Walker and with Mellow Sadik as the University’s Online Distance Learning Manager. 

Stephen Shute, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources), leads the project delivery group. He says: “We have responded to the growing demand from students around the world and across the UK for more flexible ways of studying.

“Through using new technology, we are creating new ways to reach these students, giving them the opportunity to fit their studies around their lifestyles and other commitments. 

“These courses have been a long time in the planning and I am delighted that the first one is now underway. 

“Colleagues across the University have been working hard since January to prepare for our first students. Congratulations to all the teams involved in getting us to launch.”

All teaching, content, educational expertise and course delivery is owned by the University, whilst Pearson oversees instructional design, course marketing, student recruitment, retention and support. The University aims to enrol 1,000 online distance learners within five years. 

Professor Shute says: “Online distance learning is set to provide an important new revenue stream for the University. As we launch more courses, we will need input from many of our academics and Professional Services staff, so that we can make this new initiative a huge success. 

“Our ambition is clear – we want to be a world leader in flexible, online learning and the start of this first degree is an exciting first step in making that ambition a reality.” 

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Posted on behalf of: University of Sussex
Last updated: Friday, 7 September 2018

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