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Australia: Latest News

How is a degree created? University of Sydney launch new postgrad courses

The University of Sydney speak about their five brand new postgraduate courses, including the Master of Economic Analysis.

Master of Art Curation is one of the new postgraduate degrees available at the University of Sydney.

Have you ever wondered how a degree is actually created? Who decides what students should learn? What is the processs which eventually leads to it being listed in a prospectus, and more importantly, taught to students?

The University of Sydney has recently created five new postgraduate qualifications, including the first ever Master of Art Curating in the country.

The new additions cover a variety of disciplines, and also include the Master of English Studies, Master of Economic Analysis, Master of International Relations and Master of Museum and Heritage Studies. All courses – lasting between 18-24 months – have a have a strong emphasis on real world-application, in both their content, modes of teaching and placement opportunities.


We spoke to the university to find out what goes into creating a whole new degree, as well as further details about these new postgraduate qualifications:


When you set out to develop these courses, what did you hope to achieve? Were they responses to previous enquiries from students for these kinds of programmes?

'The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences recognizes that changes in the international economy and labour force require constant attention and we wanted to make sure we were offering students cutting edge education, with skills and knowledge that are sought after. We have undertaken in-depth market research in the postgraduate market and listened to what graduates, prospective students and major employers have to say. These new courses are our response to those demands. What has been really great news for us is that we were already doing a lot of things right, but there were some gaps and we think we have addressed those gaps.'


You state on your site that these new programmes have been developed alongside ‘industry leaders’. Could you give a little more information or insight into this process?

'During the development phase of these new courses, we sat down with major employers in banking and finance, HR, art galleries and museums, international relations think-tanks and institutes and asked them what they thought of the quality of university graduates in their sectors at the present time, where they saw their industry heading and what we could do to make sure we produced the best possible graduates. Their insight were invaluable and we have incorporated a lot of what they have said into the new degrees, including offering more internships and on-the-job education, having industry leaders give guest lectures and offering students networking opportunities while they study.'


The Master of Art Curating is the first of its kind in Australia. Can you comment on the Art Curation field in Australia, and do you feel you are filling a substantial void in the Australian higher education market by offering this course?

'The Master of Art Curating at the University of Sydney is unique in providing critical understanding and practical knowledge of both traditional institutions, such as museums and galleries, and the expanded field of contemporary curating and its wide range of non-traditional exhibition spaces, such as artist-run and community art spaces, public art projects, festivals and commercial spaces. The curatorial environment in Australia is rapidly transforming at the moment and this course, with its strong internship component and practical curatorial experience, prepares students for the challenges such changes in the wider industry present.'


You state that ‘The Master of International Relations will encourage students to relate theoretical concepts to relevant world issues’, while practical experience and internships are components of the other programmes. Was this emphasis on education, which leads to actual real world application and opportunities a conscious decision, given the depressed graduate job market in 2013?

'It was a conscious decision, but I wouldn't say it came about as a result of the depressed graduate job market. The graduate job market here in Australia has remained quite buoyant, certainly when compared to the UK. However, the relationship between the theoretical concepts and real world issues is part of our teaching philosophy, which went into the development of the new degree. Students come to take a Masters in international relations primarily because they already have an intense interest in the subject. We embrace, and share that interest and aim to provide students with the theoretical and conceptual tools that will enable them to situate those 'real world' issues in a framework of understanding that allows them to see those issues in a broader context. We want to give them a sophisticated theoretical grounding in the subject, but not at the expense of losing their interest in the real world problems. This helps them think through those issues and to use the theoretical and conceptual tools we supply them with as instruments that help them formulate solutions to those problems.

Theory for its own sake is interesting, but what we also try to do here at Sydney, is demonstrate why it is also useful.'


Do you have any future new programmes in mind or in development?

'I think the future will definitely see us introducing new courses as the needs of various industries and the world changes. The faculty is always looking for new opportunities to tap into our strengths in teaching and research, so watch this space!'


If you are interested in taking one of these new courses – or any of the courses available – find out more about the University of Sydney, including what other students have said.


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