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FST usc minutes 23.10.2008



              Undergraduate Teaching Committee

A meeting of the committee was held on 23 October 2008. The following
people were present:

Jane Taylor (Chair)                  Gordon Blower
Simon Cresswell (Secretary)          Alan Collins
Kenneth Harrison                     John Hamilton-Taylor
Mark Bryson                          Andrew Wilby
Costas Xydeas                        Shaun Fisher
Joe Finney                           Alan Blackburn
James Taylor                         Dianne Wilkinson


1.    Apologies for absence

      Jackie Pates, Colin Pooley, David Towers,Trevor Piearce, Fiona

2.    Terms of reference

      Document A

      The committee noted its terms of reference, but a member queried
      the extent to which the committee could be held responsible for the

            review departmental recruitment plans, monitoring
            recruitment to all courses, seeking and analysing market
            intelligence, encouraging new course developments to meet
            identified demand, and scrutinising all course proposals
            against known demand

            monitor the employment of graduates of faculty courses and
            develop and review activities to increase employability

      It was recommended that some role in relation to the use of GTAs
      should be added.

      Departments agreed to recommend candidates for the position of
      student representative on the committee.
3.    Minutes

      Document B

      The minutes of a meeting held on 18 June 2008 were approved.

4.    Matters arising

4.1   Classification of undergraduate programmes delivered by
      Mathematics and Statistics

      Gordon Blower, HoD Mathematics and Statistics, gave notice that
      his department was developing proposals to restructure its
      undergraduate programmes.

4.2   Titles of programmes with a Year Abroad

      Changes to programme titles would be picked up in the current
      round of preparing the 2010 Prospectus. Department were put on
      notice that those departments choosing to hang on to North
      America or Australasia title designations would, in the event of
      adding countries outside those geographical zones, be required to
      adopt the “Study Abroad” designation.

4.3   Peer Observation of Teaching

      Departments that had not already done so were asked to send
      details of their PoT systems to Jane Taylor. ACTION

4.4   Drop out rates

      Departments that had not already done so were asked to send a
      reflection on their dropout rates to Jane Taylor. ACTION

4.5   Library provision

      The need for departments to liaise with the Library when developing
      new courses was reinforced.

5.    Chair’s report

5.1   National Student Survey (Document X)

      The requirement placed on departments to reflect on NSS results
      was reinforced, as was a warning regarding what student feedback
      could not be used by departments for publicity purposes.
5.2   Recruitment

      Mathematics and Statistics was congratulated on the strength of its
      recruitment in October 2008 and the chair reported that targets for
      2009-10 were being discussed with John McGovern and Heather

5.3   Reorganisation of the faculty and creation of SH&M: update

      The chair provided a brief update on structures and highlighted a
      desire to harmonise undergraduate operations & course structures
      within the LEC sub-divisions.

5.4   Optical mark reader

      Members noted the following:

      temporary access to a Management School OMR had been

      it might be possible for FS&T to adopt the old Library OMR;

      departments were asked to provide the chair with details of their
      OMR requirements. ACTION

5.5   Approval of non-core teaching staff to assist with programme

      In line with the university’s recently approved framework on
      academic contact, departments were asked to submit proposals for
      non-core teaching staff to be used in delivering courses to the
      chair: this should include a reasoned case and biography of the
      proposed appointment. A record of approvals would be retained by
      the faculty’s Teaching Quality Support Officer.

6.    Annual Teaching Reviews

      Documents: C,D,E,F

6.1   Physics

      The following points were highlighted in discussion of the
      department’s ATR:

      Introducing the report the department emphasised that the
      accreditation exercise by the IoP had been highly successful: the
      assessors were impressed with programme organisation, curricula,
      assessment, staff-student relationships and particularly the strong
      provision of undergraduate projects. All of the current degree
      schemes (and the new BSc/MPhys Physics with Space Physics
      schemes due to commence in 2009/10) had been fully accredited
      for 5 years. Another positive had been that over 70% of the 2008
      graduates had obtained 2-1 or 1st class degrees, and there had
      been no failed degrees;

      it was suggested that future ATRs might make explicit reference to
      the department’s contribution to Combined Science programmes;

      more reflective answers on departmental practices and contexts
      would be helpful;

      it was asked whether the department’s tougher progression rules
      had negatively influenced dropout rates. The department observed
      that the rate had dropped to almost zero despite tougher hurdles;

      the committee noted that open days had been improved:
      separating prospective students from their families at the day’s
      outset was deemed to have had a positive effect;

      the committee noted that careers-related teaching had been moved
      from the Third Year to Part I because: some material had previously
      been delivered too late in Part II to be fully effective and the
      department and students wanted programmes to be classified on
      physics content, not careers;

      weekly coursework supported by model answers had contributed to
      the department’s high scores for prompt, detailed and helpful

      attendance at some 2nd and 3rd year lectures had remained
      disappointing and an investigation of this issue with students had
      thrown up a wide spectrum of causes;

      the ATR scrutineer, John Hamilton-Taylor, drew the committee’s
      attention to a correlation between final classification and the early
      performance of individual students. He commended the
      Environmental Science system of identifying and supporting poor
      performing students in Part I with a staff mentoring system;

      Physics reported that it was making it increasingly clear to students
      that failed Second Year modules could not necessarily be condoned
      by final exam boards.

6.2   Geography

      The following points were highlighted in discussion of the
      department’s ATR:

      Introducing the report, the department highlighted that: beyond a
      successful redesign of Part I few big changes had taken place
      during 2007-08; the consolidation of Part I into larger longer
      modules had improved student performance; and asking for higher
      entry requirements had resulted in fewer applications but an
      improved conversion rate.

      the committee praised the well-evidenced and reflective ATR;

      an external examiner had commented on the need to broaden
      Geography’s undergraduate intake in the context of a widening
      participation agenda. This was an issue the department was actively
      tackling -- it had been working with university admissions officers
      though progress had been slow;

      although views were quite finely balanced, Geography had agreed
      that, subject to solving technical problems, it would introduce
      anonymous marking for all Part II coursework for the academic
      year 2008-9; and the existing practice of using an anonymized grid
      at the internal exam board would be extended to the final exam

      one external (Professor Lowe) had been of the view that viva voce
      examinations should be used very rarely (if at all); whereas
      Professor Rees had been keen to use vivas and so practice in this
      area had fluctuated depending on the views of examiners. This was
      an area where the University might want to review current
      guidelines since Geography was aware that vivas are now not
      possible in many comparable institutions;

      the committee commended Geography on its performance in the
      National Student Survey with regard to student feedback.

6.3   Environmental Science

      The following points were highlighted in discussion of the
      department’s ATR:

      a new Part II structure was leading to improvements although a full
      cohort had not yet graduated from it;

      the merger under the LEC banner further emphasised that ES
      module weightings hampered collaboration with other departments;

      the UG admissions data for entry 2008-09 were a cause for
      concern, and had been treated seriously by the Department.
      Recruitment was one major focus at the ES Away Day and several
      initiatives had been proposed. These included: 1) applicants will not
      automatically receive an offer without attending a Visit Day; 2) an
      additional Visit Day would be scheduled in late March targeted at
      applicants making late decisions; 3) schools would receive a mail
      shot promoting our degrees; 4) applicants declining or making
      Lancaster CI this year will be asked to complete an on-line
      questionnaire; and 5) focus groups comprising current students
      would be consulted on web-page quality and thoughts on

      in response to an external examiner observation, ES would review
      whether group work is a suitable sole means of course work
      assessment for a final year module;

      in response to an external examiner comment, ES would ensure
      that staff have the appropriate marking criteria to hand, by
      circulating them with exam scripts;

      the committee noted that in future ES would make module
      feedback scores available to students via a notice board. This led to
      a committee suggestion that this practice should be made
      compulsory for all departments;

      the Department has a team dedicated to addressing educational
      differences and upholding the educational rights of students, who
      liaise with the University Disabilities Office, Student Support and
      the Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching to
      provide support to students and advice to staff. In addition to
      providing University provision into the Department, the team
      instigates additional data gathering to support specialist activities
      within Environmental Science that are not catered for centrally.
      Environmental Science students carry out specialized laboratory
      investigation, field-based study and individual research projects.
      Each of these aspects is subject to a confidential survey of
      student need, usually in combination with safety and medical
      questionnaires. This co-ordinated approach enabled identification of
      specific issues and, in consultation with the student concerned, a
      tailored solution. The data collected are disseminated to module
      organisers as necessary, to ensure suitable adapted arrangements
      are made;

      the committee noted as an example of effective practice a teaching
      strategy on a module where lectures were provided online
      complemented by intensive seminars.

6.4   Communication Systems

      The following points were highlighted in discussion of the
      department’s ATR:

      Introducing the report the department highlighted that it had faced
      a transition year that had involved teaching out the traditional
      programme delivery method and introducing the Year A/B system;

      there had been significant staffing changes;

      members of the committee recommended that the department
      should, when preparing ATRs, provide more information on its
       internal systems, eg in relation to dealing with modules where the
       mean marks had fallen outside the 55-65 range;

       although not formal vivas, the external examiner had found it
       valuable to have the opportunity to meet with students;

       the scrutineer had further detailed comments that he would raise
       with the department through correspondence.

7.     Revised National Qualifications Framework

       Document G

       Members of the committee noted that the QAA had finalised a
       revised National Qualifications Framework. Key changes included
       the addition of information relating to minor awards and explicit
       reference to integrated Masters programmes.

8.     Communication of T&L developments to teaching support

       Item deferred.

9.     Online module evaluation: proposed adjustments

       Document H

       The committee noted proposals to the university’s LTA committee in
       relation to online module evaluation.

10.    International strategy

       Document I

       Item deferred.

11.    Physics proposals

       Document Pack J

11.1   The committee approved a proposal to validate a new module:

       Name and mnemonic                     PHYS483 Quantum Information
       Credits                               8
       Date of introduction                  2009-10
11.2 The committee approved a proposal to ensure alignment of the 4th
     Year of M.PHYS programmes with the credit framework.

11.3   revisions to PHYS487

       The committee approved a proposal to change the module title
       from Semiconductor Materials to Semiconductor Device Physics;
       and to update the module’s aims, outcomes, syllabus and

11.4   change of programme title

       The committee approved the following change of programme title:

       BSc/M.Phys Physics with Medical Physics

       to be renamed, with effect from 2010-11

       BSc/M.Phys Physics with Biomedical Physics

12.    Proposal to validate a new module: Geography

       Document K

12.1   The committee approved a proposal to validate a new module:

       Name and mnemonic                   GEOG212 Glacier-landscape
       Credits                             15
       Date of introduction                2009-10

13.    CELT report

       Document L

       The committee received a report from CELT.

14.    Overview of the 2002-08 Periodic Quality Review cycle

       Document M

       Item deferred.

15.    Library report

       Document N
      The committee received a report from the Library, noting in
      particular that: it had been suffering financially as a result of hold-
      back; there was now a LEC book fund; new library cards, laptop
      points and furniture had been introduced.

16.   Schedule of meetings

      Thursday 20th November 2008, 15:00-17:00 (Room C29,

      Thursday 22nd January 2009, 15:00-17:00 (Room C29,

      Tuesday 17th February 2009, 15:00-17:00 (Room C29,

      Thursday 30th April 2009, 15:00-17:00 (Room C29, Engineering)

      Thursday 28th May 2009, 15:00-17:00 (Room C29, Engineering)

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