Posted by: Gillian | October 27, 2010

Double-counting and open learning

Degrees and the vast majority of professional qualifications include a sometimes mysterious ‘double-counting’ rule.  If you are full-time within a UK-based degree in one institution, this is not a problem as the system sorts it out.  If you are international or a distance or even a part-time student, it can be a mess.  Can you use the same essay in two different places?

The short answer to that is ‘no’ but there are ways around it and reasons for it.  Reasons first:

Some of the reasons are financial but the basic – and only academic – reason is that degrees are supposed to build knowledge and show progression.  It is, therefore, really wrong to have a Year2 essay showing up again as a Year4 essay.  That, of course, may not be the fault of the learner if both submissions get good marks.  Maybe the essay was good in Year2 but even so it should have progressed by Year4.

To get round the double-counting rule and get good marks you need:

1) To have written a really good article/paper/essay at a lower level

2) To treat that paper as just another source that needs detailed citation and referencing

3) To add to the original in terms of references, examples and personal thought.  Your intro paragraph might be very similar but your conclusions should be different in terms of depth or width  – or both.  You might, for example, tear your own Level2 essay apart.  That’ s fine!  Or you might take your own essay and show how it really applies in a very tightly defined market/situation.

Whatever you do, your first essay is a source.

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