THE UNIVERSITY of Gloucestershire is launching its first online Masters Degree (MA) in September.

The MA in Philosophy and Religious Thought is a two year part-time course which can be studied from home wherever students are in the world.

The course is led by Dr David Webster, principal lecturer in religion, philosophy and ethics (RPE), who is passionate about using digital and social media to enhance his students’ learning experience.

The RPE blog has been running for eight years and Dr Webster recently gave a talk at the United Kingdom’s Facebook headquarters in London about how it benefits his students past, present and future.

“It’s something which we have found really engages students. We have also found that this is their preferred way to communicate, rather than us developing a bespoke online platform,” he said.

“We are constantly in touch with them on Facebook and Twitter and as people rarely leave the group they can converse with graduates and find out more about their experiences.”

Dr Webster’s teaching methods include podcasts, Skype interviews between students and academics from around the world, and video interviews he has made with experts in different areas of the course.

“It’s really built a sense of community and we spend a lot of time with our students in person so we are constantly in touch with them.”

The new online MA is designed to fit around students’ work commitments and its primary focus is on the way in which religious traditions represent strands of philosophical though and its development.

It explores the interplay between secular philosophy and religious reflection and the course will offer a Spring-based Graduate Conference, where students will present papers either virtually or in person.

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