Most programmes contain one or two modules that are very unpopular with students. These are often core modules which are considered by academics to provide important foundation knowledge, for example statistics and research methods modules or subjects requiring a different knowledge base to the rest of the programme. This paper focuses on a slightly different type of problem subject, Public Sector Management, an optional module that was so unpopular with students that it had not run for several years. Ideas and best practice guidance from teaching and learning literature (in particular Warwick & Ottewill 2004, and Fallows & Ahmet 1999) are reconsidered in this new context. The outcome of the module review highlights the need for emphasis to be placed on demonstrating the relevance of the teaching material and helping the students to experience the subject rather than simply studying it. Further, we demonstrate value in identifying an aspect of the optional subject that will be more appealing to students than the previous offering; in this case the opportunity to look at issues through a management consultancy lens.
The article argues for the importance of reconsidering problem subjects as key challenges that can act as a spur to innovation in the design and delivery of these modules.
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