Each of the 5 Topics within a course module/unit contains a discussion forum. The forum is led by one or two tutors, who will post an opening discussion question. The discussions are designed for two purposes:

First to help deepen your understanding of the academic issues covered in the Topic, by amplifying the material contained in the resources found in the Topic and exchanging experiences between students and with the tutors.

Second to help prepare for the assignment – the module assignment requires you to answer questions relating to the information presented as relevant to the learning objectives, as well as to take a critical approach to the information and to support your answer with references.

The discussion forum (which in educational terminology is called 'formative assessment') will allow you to 'practice' all of these aspects. Contribution is compulsory, and you are not allowed to submit an assignment at the end of the semester unless you have made substantial contributions to at least three discussions. Our evaluation of experience in Peoples-uni shows that the students who contribute fully to the discussion forums are more likely to pass the assignments!

We will provide feedback about your contributions to the discussions during the semester.

Please note: as in the assignments, it is important that you acknowledge any items you use in the discussions which are taken from the work of others. If you copy and paste from another source, you must acknowledge the source and reference it. It is always better to use your own words anyway!

Try to think of this discussion as a face to face meeting, similar to a tutorial. Be prepared to make an active contribution and offer your ideas but also comment on the messages that other participants have made and the resources you will find in the Topic. You may also identify and present relevant case studies or journal articles to add to the resources we have presented. We suggest that you use the discussions to practice your critical reasoning skills and the referencing of published papers and other resources - both of these are required in order to pass the assignment.

Please stay on the topic of the discussion. This is a very formal learning space, not the space for social chat or exchanging opinions (the Students' corner is for this purpose). All students and tutors receive copies of all postings as emails – so while taking part, please do not overwhelm our in-boxes, and post short messages. Since this is a discussion, please make sure that you do respond to the comments of other students – the table below gives a quick summary of a completed response – which is what we are looking for:

Tips on writing a discussion post

 The first thing you need to do, before you write your discussion post, is read the resource materials for that topic. When you read the materials you should make notes and think about how the resources relate to your own experience in your country.

 You should then read the discussion question and make notes about how you want to structure your answer. It is useful to include in your discussion post:

Your own experience about the topic. For example you may have experience in your work or as a citizen in your country in relation to the discussion topic – it is okay to be honest and say that it is something you have not had direct experience 

Your summary of the important information about the topic – when you write information in your discussion post you need to think carefully about where you learnt about that information eg

  • is it based on your own experience
  • is it based on some knowledge you read in the topic resources.
  • Is it based on knowledge you read in a research paper, a website, a local newspaper or a national/international report
  • If you are referencing either one of the topic resources or another research paper or website you have read, you need to write the reference after you make the statement. If you need to search the internet to find any research in your country/region then follow this guide. You need to be critical about any information you include – see guide on critical reflection

Your reflection on other student posts – is their experience the same as yours or different? Have they made any points that you are unsure about and want further clarification – perhaps they have not stated where they found the information. You may have found some different research that shows the opposite

A list of the references you have used – see guide on referencing in students corner

Please see students corner for aTemplate discussion post File

For more about posting to discussion forums, please go to our academic skills resources library - click here.


 Own commentsResponse to others
Completed responseComments show reflection and critical thought and understanding of relevant literature. You should include reference to your own experience, to the resources in the module and give a reference to a published paper or websiteComments reveal that the responder has reflected on the other participant's comments. You should include reference to the posting of another student or the tutor
Incomplete responseThe participant's response consist of only superficial and unsubstantiated statementsResponder makes an unsubstantiated comment like 'Great answer' or 'I agree' with no further elaboration and no critical thought