The DLTE Blog

ENhance ILR Spotlight: UG Criminology, Policing and Social Science.

ENhance Spotlight. Edinburgh Napier University Department of Learning & Teaching Enhancement. Image shows coloured lights representing the themes of the ENhance Curriculum Framework.

In April 2023, the School of Applied Sciences’ (SAS) undergraduate programmes in Criminology, Policing and Criminology, and Social Sciences (including the Hong Kong programme delivered in partnership with HKU Space) undertook the Institution-Led Review process (ILR) and demonstrated how their embedding of ENhance themes is empowering students toward these ends.

At the Gathering in June 2023, Dr Jan McArthur spoke about the potential for authentic assessment to give students the opportunity to change the world they live in, not just participate in it. Within our current social climate, studies in social sciences offer a clear point for students to consider how the world can change presently and in future. As these programmes will be looking to the Year-On Review stage of the ILR cycle, we’ll take a look back at the exemplary practice that was highlighted in these programme.

The cohorts for these programmes include:

  • around 30% mature students on the BA (Hons) Social Sciences programmes,
  • increasing numbers of students from MD20 backgrounds, and
  • a majority of female students on the BA (Hons) Criminology and BSc (Hons) Policing and Criminology programmes.

These cohorts have have potential to use their perspectives to directly influence and benefit from the changes they make to society, criminology and policing, and are given opportunities to reflect on this through learning and assessment activities.

The value of support for typically underrepresented groups cannot be overstated and it was clear in conversations with students that informal induction and support was greatly appreciated, with personalised support provided by Module and Programme Leaders. This appreciation is not surprising, as we have heard that students find formal induction and its bombardment of information to be quite overwhelming.

To help to tackle the overwhelm and facilitate gradual, longitudinal induction, the Moodle resource on How You Can Support Students at Edinburgh Napier continues to be collaboratively developed to help colleagues to signpost students to the departments and resources throughout the university which can help students to make the most of the supports available to them at relevant points in the trimester. We encourage you to make use of this resource with your students and complete the anonymous feedback form within, to help us to develop this further and make your life easier!

Presentation slide which says "How you can support students at Edinburgh Napier University"

Students are supported throughout their programmes, to develop their ability to reflect on societal issues. Opportunities are provided for this in class activities and assessment promoting self-reflection and sharing of the students’ own identities, backgrounds and experiences, when they choose to do so and learning from the experiences of others, demonstrating Inclusion in their learning. These opportunities are embedded within core modules from Introduction to Sociology in the first year of study, through to Social Identities in the final year, where students can develop their assessment literacy and information literacy through analysis of previous students’ honours projects for evidence of discourses around stigma.

In clear demonstration of Student Focus, assessments from first year onwards give options on the format of submission, allowing students to find the most effective way to use their voice. The level 7 module Understanding Social Change allows students to submit video essays, whether recorded presentations or essays created in Tik-Tok, and this option is also made available within the level 9 Sexuality & Gender module. The option for posters as the format of assessment is available in the level 10 module Preparation for the Honours Project. Much like we heard at our Assessment Summit, from SHSC’s Dr Catherine Mahoney, this scope for different formats of assessment allows students to find ways to apply their learning to social issues and challenges and express these in ways which may be more accessible to the wider public. This in turn can increase students’ ability to advocate and make social impact with members of society who are otherwise excluded from traditional academic communication methods such as journals.

Just as students develop their ability to speak on topics in more diverse ways than the traditional essay, similarly, the programme suite builds student familiarity with different ways that information in taught material is presented, such as grey literature and digital media, and evaluating these sources of evidence, helping to develop their Digital & Information Literacy.

In the Hong Kong programmes, action has been taken to localise reading lists and research papers to focus on local examples of concepts and theoretical material, increasing module relevance for Hong Kong students. Module leader familiarity with these cultural contexts and sources of literature means that home programmes also benefit from this diversification of literature, providing a broader Global Outlook to students in the UK.

Broad issues of of Sustainability, as set out in the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are presented through the suite, not limited to sustainability in the labour markets, as students are made familiar with trade unions and employment rights within Capitalism in Crisis (Level 8) and continued into Sociology of Work and Organisations (level 9), which explore the role of economic interests in the global environment. In their final year, students learn about how media and cultural industries are implicated in the climate crisis through their representation (or lack thereof) of the climate crisis. All of these give students the ability to build familiarity with factors which contribute to the changing state of the world, and how they can influence this going forward.

UN Sustainable Development goals

Part of the support available to students on the Social Sciences programme suite includes the Skills and Social Sessions which were co-created and developed with student representatives and Student Futures to help students to make the most of university, overcome procrastination, improve Academic Reading and employability. Each of these skills sessions was paired with a social activity organised by the student representatives to create space for students to build connections, demonstrating Citizenship & Community. The Employability skills aspect of this initiative was also particularly commended in the ILR.

The Social Sciences programme suite strives to use authentic assessments which encourage students to apply their learning from a module to a current topic or problem, developing transferrable skills for subsequent careers. At our Assessment Summit, we heard from students that exams shift their focus from learning to prioritising their grade, a paradox which was also highlighted by Prof. Zack Moir whose presentation on ungrading highlighted some possible contradictions between purposes and outcomes of assessment in Higher Education. Assessment in the Social Sciences suite instead asks students to involve themselves in the issues raised, in some cases engaging in activism (Capitalism In Crisis, level 8), and reflect on this experience. Where appropriate, students are given choice in the topics they wish to examine, relevant to their academic and professional interest. For instance, in the level 9 Environment, Politics and Society module, a summative assessment asks students to create an e-poster which analyses a case study of the student’s choosing, relating to an environmental issue.

The summative assessment within the Understanding Cyber Crime module (level 9), which is offered to students across all three home programmes, uses a rapid evidence review on one of four optional cyber crimes and in which students critically assess the current approaches to prevention, excellently representing Research and Practice Integration in the curriculum. A tutorial in this module has involved discussion of how image and voice-based Generative AI can open up more people to cyber crimes such as fraud and (s)extortion, building off of the taught material around the psychological techniques used in many forms of cyber crime such as Phishing and criminal hacking. Students this year have used ChatGPT to create examples of the sorts of Phishing attacks which use these techniques, as a platform on which to devise defence strategies against these attacks, critiquing its outputs and developing their Digital & Information Literacy. This up-to-date approach to the theory and practice in the module clearly sets students up well with skills and knowledge to benefit Employability in a rapidly changing professional world. Dr Shane Horgan, module leader of the Understanding Cyber Crime module sat down with DLTE’s Dr Cameron Graham to discuss the use of Generative AI in the module, and you can watch this conversation and others on the ENhance Case Studies page on the Intranet.

ENhance Case Study. Understanding Cyber Crime (level 9). Themes presented: Digital & Information Literacy; Employability; Student Focus. There is a play button as this is a link to the page where this video is.

In October 2023, we hosted Dr Sheila Amici-Dargan (University of Bristol) and Dr Steve Rutherford (University of Cardiff) who facilitated a workshop on the EAT Framework (Equity, Agency & Transparency in assessment). We explored the benefits of this student agency in meaningful assessment, with ownership and relevance of assessment where students want “to develop and contribute to knowledge generation”. Involving students in shaping their assessment can enhance their understanding of its purpose, and support better engagement in these assessments.

The topics and methods of these sorts of assessments in the Understanding Cyber Crime module mentioned above obviously rely on a level of digital literacy and the subject group work with students to ensure access to digital devices, with computer labs booked to provide dedicated space and time for development of these skills and pieces of work, to ensure each student can give their best to their learning, regardless of their financial situation and background.

The EAT Framework encourages self-regulation in assessment, choosing appropriate strategies, continually evaluating performance. Through modules focused on research across all four years of study and working closely with the subject librarian, staff in the Social Sciences suite have demonstrated how students are empowered to assess the capability of research methods for specific topics, and take ownership of the processes they use to tackle problems, developing strengths in research methods, enabling them to guide their own future learning and potential for influence.

If you’d like to share your practice more widely, we encourage you to reach out to us at if you would like to present an ENhance workshop or contribute in any format to an ENhance Case Study.

ENhance Case Study header. Coloured circles representing the colours of the ENhance themes, a gold circle for Student Focus and a gold ring for the cross-cutting themes.

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