Beyond exams and essays: Creative methods of assessment in the Department of Languages and Cultures

Our students have just finished choosing their modules for their second and final year, and one question they often ask when selecting their modules is ‘how is this module assessed’? This is also a question that prospective applicants often ask, so we wanted to showcase in this blog post some of our more creative methods of assessment. We are proud of our innovative assignments, which enable students to develop their skills in many different areas, so we have asked our Programme Directors to give us some recent examples of assessments for Spanish, German, Italian, French and comparative modules!


In this first post we cover some examples of recent creative forms of assessment used in our comparative modules. Comparative modules compare and contrast the history, literature, cinema…produced in different cultural spheres, bringing them together in modules such as Greats of European Cinema, Comparative Literature, Society, Thought and Art, or Language and Power, to name only a few.


Our comparative modules involve exciting methods of assessment, for instance for the module “Language and Power”, a radio show on language and migration was recently designed, written, and conducted by the students enrolled in the module. The whole module had been designed around this outcome, and therefore all lectures were delivered in preparation for the show. Before going on air, students received a 2-hour training at Junction 11, the University digital radio which hosted the show. A series of five 50-minute shows (Voicing the invisible(s)), on 5 different topics, went on air, involving all 25 students of the module. By working with a professional equipment, students could include sounds, songs, interviews and live feedback in their shows, and had to carefully mix up solid research-based content with some more “entertaining” material. It was such a success that some students designed and presented their own radio show after this experience. As one of the students wrote: “This project taught us and gave us a lot, and such opportunities to flourish are surely what education is all about”.


Another innovative method of assessment was the project Who wants to become… and editor? How to transform a classroom in a publishing house, for the module ML2LLM “Literature Language and Media”. Over 10 weeks in the Spring Term, students designed, wrote, edited, and managed to publish a 96-page book entitled Behind the Screen. Social Media through the student eye. The class was organised as a publishing lab. Week by week, invited guests introduced as to book design, book editing, proofreading, book marketing, etc. Students then decided a topic they wanted publish on, and took a role: most of them became authors (of chapters), then we had 2 assistant editors, 2 iconographers, 2 proof-readers, 1 production manager (in charge of getting in touch with the printer, i.e. the Department of Typography), 1 event manager (to organise a book launch), etc. It was like the big game of writing and publishing, but we ended up with a collective book with 13 short chapters based on research, professionally designed by a graduate from Typography, and digitally printed in 200 copies. Students left the module with 2 copies of the book each, to show what they are able to do, and with the feeling that when talking about books the combination of content and technical skills is not only possible, but almost necessary to understand the physicality and the complexity of books and book industry.

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