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Sussex University: Where You Earn A New Kind of Bachelor’s Degree

In a cost-cutting move, the University of Sussex will largely scrap its History programme. European history will start with 1900. “The university said the cuts were part of a plan to save £3 million, and were in response to a lack of student demand. It added that courses in ‘film, music, media and global studies’ would continue to grow.”

The 2011 University of Sussex Course Catalog

Sussex University: Where you get your degree!

The Sociology of Facebook Who should you ‘friend’ and who should you ignore? What is the best way to ‘un-friend’ a person without hurting her or his or its feelings? The dynamics of interpersonal “net” relationships will be explored on a practical basis. Students will spend their time criticising other students’ status updates and personal photos. By the end of the term, the student must demonstrate proficiency in remotely uploading pictures from any cell phone. Pass-fail only.

Post-Colonialism and Britain’s Got Talent Post-colonial theory entails destabilizing Western way of thinking, which had until recently been thought worthy of emulation. We now know that all cultures are equally good, except Western culture, which is uniformly bad, but only because it still contains vestiges of improper modes of thought. We investigate how, since all are necessarily equally talented, Simon Cowell’s cruel rejections are tolerated on National Television. Students will learn that their assessments of “talent” are just as valid as the “experts’.”

Practical Grievance Mongering 201 This introductory course is the same as Practical Grievance Mongering 602 except that graduate students cannot enroll. Students will form discussion circles and complain about what bothers them. The techniques of inflating minor discomforts into full-blown outrages will be stressed. Crafting politically shrill and effective lists of demands is a central focus. Use of new media is encouraged. Participation in a demonstration or march is mandatory and forms part of the final exam.

Football and Man This is an off-campus extension class. Students will meet Saturdays at the Bull & Shite in Market street. What does it mean to be a member of the “Premier” league? The complexities of alcohol consumption and hooliganism are discovered in a popular practicum. Proper settling of disputes of which team is truly best are covered extensively. Course text (optional): Clough: The Autobiography by Brian Clough.

Video Games and Film A good game does not necessarily translate into a good film. Why? Screenings of Pok̩mon 3: The Movie РSpell of the Unown , Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Resident Evil: Extinction and other follow-up films are emphasized in an attempt to understand how sequels deepen our understanding of the gaming experience. Students will act out scenes from Super Mario Bros. to show why it was right for Bob Hoskins to accept his role as the elder Mario Brother.

Truth and Wikipedia We all accept that what people believe is true. Therefore, those who control what people believe are in a unique position to control truth. With the explosive growth of Wikipedia as the reference tool, it is imperative that students learn how to create and edit entries on this popular engine of belief. Students begin by editing the pages of their favorite movies. By the end of the course, students will be facile at changing historical events to what should have happened.

Playlists: the iPod Culture All students must bring an MP3 player to class and be prepared to divulge their playlists. Students will form groups based on the similarity of these playlists. For the final, students must vocally defend their group’s preferences while simultaneously describing why the other groups’ choices are poor. We also learn the theory of why stealing music isn’t proper theft.

TXTing as Literature Dramatic readings of text messages form the core of this class. Cell phones are mandatory and must be fully charged before each class. Before enrolling, students should consider having their parents sign them up for an unlimited texting plan. Prior familiarity with the website Texts From Last Night is beneficial.

Life Experience Students whose activism keeps them from the classroom will be able to apply up to twelve times for course credit for their genuine, life-affirming experiences. Students are required to show proof that they have been having life experiences during the semester. Printouts of Twitter feeds are now acceptable as proof that the student has been engaged in living.

History Students are encouraged to wear T-shirts of their favorite historical characters, like Brittany Spears, that old science guy with the wild hair, and Harry Potter to class. This enlivens discussion and gives students a sense of realism not found at other universities. For those without the proper gear, a crate of Che Guevara (extra large only) red T-shirts has been generously donated by the Socialist Historians Institute of Tomorrow. There is no text for the course. Instead, movies which mention historical subjects will be screened.

Update Monday morning. I don’t know how long it will last, but we made the front page of Sussex University. Under “Blogs about Sussex.” It just links right back here. Must have been the result of a robot. I hope.

16 thoughts on “Sussex University: Where You Earn A New Kind of Bachelor’s Degree Leave a comment

  1. Other faculties will also be affected.
    Post-modern Real Analysis – the properties and behaviour of the integers 1 to 7.

  2. I particularly like the implication of teaching British History from 1700 but European only from 1900. Won’t that leave two hundred years of British history rather one-sided? Who were we defending ourselves from at Trafalgar and Waterloo? Bloody martians I presume.

  3. P.S. this is what happens when your universities are neither fully private nor fully public – the government reserves the right to muck the universities around endlessly, but insists that the universities themselves are to blame for any unfortunate consequences.

  4. There was an article in the Washington Post last week about a small liberal arts private college in DC, and those look like some of the courses they teach. When I read the article in the post I was saying “you’ve got to be kidding” but they were serious. Dr. Briggs should easily be able to obtain a faculty position at this school teaching those courses.

  5. Dr. Briggs couldn’t teach those courses and keep a straight face, so that’s out. It’ll take a differently wired “professor” to pull those off. I suppose several are lining up now, most likely, with visions of “tenure plums” dancing in their pointy little heads.

  6. Andy: Don’t be hasty. Students are incredible at the art of laziness and complaint. I’m sure even these courses will elicit moaning of “Texting never seemed like so much – work” and “why do I have to watch a movie?” or the ever popular “I missed the whole semester – I couldn’t wake up by 3pm”

  7. I am glad to see that Sussex has the same reputation for scholarly endeavors now as it had 40 years ago – which was about when it started. As I recall, it made the LSE of Tariq Ali fame look like a right wing seminary.

  8. The university offers one item of knowledge that is, no doubt accidentally, correct: ‘We also learn the theory of why stealing music isn’t proper theft.’

    In common law jurisdictions ‘theft’ is known as the crime of larceny, an offence defined in ancient times by a multitude of judges. There are eight specific elements to the offence of larceny (beyond the elements common to all offences), and all eight must be proven to constitute the offence. These include such esoterica as the stolen item actually being able to be subject to larceny under common law (cats aren’t, dogs are), and the absence of a ‘colour of right’.

    Relevant here is that for the offence to have been committed, it must include an intention ‘to deprive the owner of the property therein’. That is, the thief has taken the jewels, which means that so the victim can no longer enjoy them.

    That’s why ‘stealing’ music isn’t theft (unless, of course, I steal the CD or the iPod containing it). If I copy a track, I am not depriving the owner of the track of anything.

    Indeed, the whole concept of ‘stealing’ music is quite recent, and an invention of the various recording industry associations. It has about as much of a relationship to reality as those associations’ estimates of losses due to music ‘theft’. These are typically calculated by estimating the number of illegal downloads or copies made, and assuming that every one of those represents a lost sale.

  9. Stephen Dawson,

    It is not a crime to steal music. It is a crime to give it away. Download to your heart’s content, but do not share copyrighted work.

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