Theology _ Religious Studies Report

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					                                        University of Wales, Bangor

                               INTERNAL QUALITY AUDIT REPORT

                             Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Date:                  10th& 11th May

Audit Team:            Professor Colin Baker (Chairman, Quality Assurance Committee), Ms Meri Huws
                       (Head, Department of Lifelong Learning), Dr Della Fazey (Member, Quality Assurance
                       Committee), Mrs Karen Chidley (Acting Assistant Registrar)

External Assessor:     Professor D P Davies, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of
                       Wales, Lampeter

Observer:              Dr Sarah Jackson (UWB Quality Assurance Officer)

1.      Introduction

        The Department is placed in the School of Arts and Humanities. The Department teaches full-
        time undergraduate courses in Religious Studies, Biblical Studies, Theology and a large
        number of Joint Honours courses in addition to part-time and full-time Masters and PhD
        programmes. However, in recent years the department has diversified in order to deliver
        theological training and ministerial support to church-based partners located at a distance from
        Bangor. It is also developing taught Master’s schemes in Pentecostal Theology, Rural
        Ministry, Religious Education and Church School Studies.

        Its aims are to continue to offer a basic degree package in the customary theological disciplines
        – Biblical Studies (including Greek and Hebrew), doctrinal and historical theology, the
        philosophy and study of religions, and pastoral and practical theology – but to develop and
        strengthen new strategies in response to changes in recruitment patterns and the needs of
        church-based partners.

2.      Documentation analysed in the audit

        [1]    Department of Theology and Religious Studies Self Assessment Document
        [2]    External Examiners 2000/2001, 2001/2002, 2002/2003
        [3]    QA1 Forms Annual Review and Development Plans 2000/2001, 2001/2002, 2002/2003
        [4]    Minutes of Board of Studies 2000-2004
        [5]    Minutes of Examination Board 2000-2004
        [6]    Minutes of Departmental Meeting 2000-2004
        [7]    Department Prospectus
        [8]    Bangor Based Undergraduate Programmes
        [9]    Distance Learning Undergraduate Programmes
        [10]   Postgraduate Programmes
        [11]   Information leaflet on Certificate in Children’s Ministry
        [12]   Information leaflet on Certificate in Christian Studies
        [13]   Information leaflet on MTh in Religious Education and Church School Studies
        [14]   Information leaflet on MTh, MMin, DMin in Implicit Religion

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     [15]   Information leaflet on MTh, MMin, DMin mewn Gweinidogaeth Wledig
     [16]   Information leaflet on MTh, MMin, DMin in Rural Ministry
     [17]   Information leaflet on MTh, MMin, DMin in Self Supporting Ministry
     [18]   Information leaflet on MPhil, PhD, DMin in Practical Theology, Ministry Studies and
            Religious Education
     [19]   Exploring Faith – Handbook for Students and Course Facilitators
     [20]   BTh in Ministry Studies – Course Document
     [21]   Certificate in Christian Ministry – Student Handbook
     [22]   DTRS Handbook Level 1 – Welsh and English
     [23]   DTRS Handbook Level 2- Welsh and English
     [24]   DTRS Handbook Level 3 – Welsh and English
     [25]   DTRS MTh Handbook
     [26]   DTRS MA Handbook
     [27]   Postgraduate Programmes in Practical Theology including Rural Ministry, Ministry
            Studies, Religious Education and
            Church School Studies – Handbook for Students
     [28]   Mattersey Hall – MTh Handbook
     [29]   Memorandum of Understanding UWB and Centre for Ministry Studies Partners (First
            Draft)
     [30]   DTRS Admission and Graduation figures 1997-2003
     [31]   DTRS External Examiners Statistics and memorandum
     [32]   Code of Practice for Programme Approval, Monitoring and Review
     [33]   Documentation on the East Anglian Ministerial Training Course
     [34]   Documentation on the Southwark Diocese Ordained Local Ministry Course
     [35]   Documentation on the Ministry Course at Bangor
     [36]   Documentation on the Norwich Diocese Ministry Course
     [37]   Documentation on the South Wales Ordination Course
     [38]   Documentation on the St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Ministry Course
     [39]   Documentation on the Guildford Diocesan Ministry Course
     [40]   Documentation on the Training for Learning and Serving Course
     [41]   Documentation on the Aberystwyth Academy, Apostolic Church of Wales, South Wales
            Reader courses

3.   Staff interviewed during the Audit

     Professor Densil Morgan (Head of Department), Professor Leslie Francis (Professor of
     Practical Theology), Dr Catrin Williams (Senior Lecturer & Admissions Tutor), Dr Eryl Davies
     (Reader & Senior Postgraduate Tutor), Dr Geraint Tudur (Senior Lecturer, Senior Tutor &
     Timetabling Officer), Dr Robert Pope (Lecturer & Examination Officer), Mrs Tania ap Sion
     (Part-time Lecturer), Dr Andrew Village (Director, Centre for Ministry Studies), Mr Iwan
     Davies (Departmental Administrative Secretary), Ms Charlotte Craig (Studies Co-ordinator,
     Centre for Ministry Studies), Dr Mandy Robbins (Teaching and Research Fellow, Centre for
     Ministry Studies), Revd Dr Malcolm Brown (Principal, East Anglia Ministerial Training
     Course).

4.   Students interviewed during the Audit

     Stephen Fuller       Year 1 BA Religious Education/History of Wales
     Lowri Williams       Year 1 BA Theology/Education
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      Nia Lloyd Hughes       Year 2 BA Religious Education/Welsh
      Adam Dyjasek           Year 2 BA Religious Studies
      Alun Jones             Year 3 BTh Theology
      Janice Gourdie         Year 3 BTh Theology
      Huw Tegid Roberts      PhD Church History

      Christina McRea        2nd Year Exploring Faith
      Angela Williams        Graduate of Exploring Faith course

5.    Quality Audit Outcomes

      The Panel investigated whether processes and mechanisms for quality and standards were in
      place and operating effectively and efficiently, and recommend enhancements to teaching and
      learning within the Department of Theology and Religious Studies. The Panel considered
      academic standards, the quality of learning opportunities and provision for the maintenance of
      quality and standards in the School.

5.1   Strengths Identified

      [1]    The Department is congratulated for the way it has adapted in a period of rapid change,
             including its diversification and innovation in developing new distance learning
             programmes.

      [2]    Staff are praised for their dedication, commitment and their willingness to take on an
             increased workload in diversification.

      [3]    Staff are congratulated for the high standards of pastoral and academic care given to
             full-time students. Students praised staff for their approachability, support and for the
             ‘open door’ policy of the Department.

      [4]    The Department is commended for pursuing the integration of staff in partnerships and
             those based at UWB. It is encouraged to increase integration by continuing to hold
             annual joint meetings, for example.

      [5]    In its important pursuit of comparability of standards across courses, the Department
             has begun to organise training sessions for the staff of the partner institutions (e.g. on
             assessment). The Panel wish to commend the Department for this type of activity and to
             recommend its extension.

      [6]    The Department is congratulated for the bilingual provision in its full-time programmes
             and the valuable contribution this makes to UWB’s portfolio of Welsh language
             modules.

      [7]    There is a strong relationship between research and teaching in some areas of the
             Department, potentially elevating the standards of student achievement.

      [8]    The UWB-based Postgraduate Forum is an important means of integrating DTRS
             research students into the Department’s research activities and to enhance such
             students’ learning experience.
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      [9]    The Departmental Administrator is commended for the steps taken in integrating the
             administrative systems of the Department and for establishing systems for the partners
             (e.g. registration). The Panel would wish to encourage the Department to consider how
             his financial skills may be utilized.

      [10]   The Senior Tutor is congratulated for his commitment to this role and for successfully
             leading a group of dedicated personal tutors.

      [11]   The Panel commend the evident quality of activity in the Centre for Ministry Studies
             and the Centre for Pentecostal Studies.

      [12]   Many staff make key contributions to local and national religious activities. This helps
             raise the profile and status of the Department.


5.2   Action points for the Department

      Many of the points listed below are currently being addressed by the Department. We wish to
      encourage the Department to engage in further discussion and action planning on the
      following:

      [1]    A DTRS Quality Assurance Committee should be formed to take on all Quality
             Assurance functions, ensuring that the Department (a) installs UWB Procedures and
             Codes of Practice across all modules and courses, (b) establishes QA1s and QA2s
             across all courses and modules, (c) monitors standards in all partnerships, (d) discusses
             nominations of External Examiners who will be common across all courses, and (e)
             monitors how UWB’s Quality Assurance procedures are implemented in all
             partnerships.

             It is recommended that the UWB Quality Assurance Officer is co-opted by DTRS onto
             this new Committee for a minimum period of two years. This is subject to the
             agreement of the Academic Registrar.

      [2]    To achieve increasing comparability and compatibility in the standards of courses
             across the whole Department, the commonality of External Examiners is a requirement.
             The Department and the Academic Registry are asked to agree a transitional plan, to be
             installed by September 2004.

      [3]    The Department should re-consider its committee structure to ensure that the Board of
             Studies meets the UWB remit. The Board of Studies should also exactly follow UWB
             procedures in reviewing new modules and courses prior to moving to Faculty for
             validation.

      [4]    Comparability in the student learning and assessment experience needs to be
             demonstrated across all courses. A system to achieve this should be discussed, codified
             and implemented (e.g. the role of moderation, inspection visits to partnerships,
             common external examiners, a pre-examination Board meeting to discuss in detail all
             extenuating circumstances and a consideration of a common examination board). The
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             Department should also consider the nature and comparability of pastoral support for all
             its part-time students.

      [5]    To retain high levels of staff morale, there should be transparency in DTRS funding and
             budgeting within the School of Arts and Humanities, and this should be communicated
             appropriately to DTRS staff.

      [6]    The workloads of many teaching staff are high. Prioritisation of tasks is therefore
             needed. It is suggested that a strategic document produces an agreed vision for the
             future of the Department, ensuring that links are made to relevant UWB strategies. As
             part of this strategy, the Panel recommends that the Department considers its quantity of
             different Centres.

      [7]    The University has a compulsory system of peer observation that should be installed
             across all tutors. The Department currently encourages staff development in
             partnerships, but the Panel requests the Department to prioritise the type of staff
             development in which partnership tutors should engage.

      [8]    A Departmental Tutor Handbook, mostly for teaching and learning purposes, should be
             produced following consultation with the Academic Registry.

      [9]    The appointment procedures and conditions of partnership part-time staff who have
             UWB status need to be robust, transparent and agreed by relevant officers in the
             University.

      [10]   The Department is asked to explore with its partnerships a transition to working to the
             same academic year as the University. This would particularly enable one Examination
             Board in June as a strategy to help assure comparability of standards across all courses.

      [11]   The Panel commends the innovative diversification that has occurred in Departmental
             courses. In the light of current predicted changes in England (e.g. as addressed in the
             Hind Report), the Department is asked to consider developing its outreach programme
             in Wales, including in Welsh-speaking faith communities, and to consider collaborative
             provision with other partners in Wales.

      [12]   The Panel requests the Department to reconsider fees for the Bangor-based faith
             courses, including exploring the possibilities of assistance for funding from HEFCW.
             Discussion about this with the Head of DoLL is encouraged.

5.3   Action for the University

      The University is recommended to consider the following in enhancing its central Quality
      Assurance mechanisms.

      [1]    The Quality Assurance Committee and its sub-group responsible for producing the
             Code of Practice for Collaborative Provision is asked to ensure that a Code of Practice
             for Partnerships is also forthcoming.



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    [2]   Many staff in the Department were unclear where the Welsh National Centre for
          Religious Education sat in the UWB infrastructure and its precise role and relationship
          with the Department of Theology and Religious Education. The Panel requests Senior
          Management to ensure clarity in this, including staffing and finances, and to
          communicate this to DTRS.

    [3]   Increasing the physical integration of strands of the Department is important for
          developing a shared identity, mission and collaboration in enhancing standards. The
          University is asked to consider bringing varying strands together in one location as soon
          as this becomes possible.

    [4]   The Quality Assurance Committee is asked to review the current validation procedures
          of the University. The Committee should examine whether the current procedures
          ensure that the University’s Teaching and Learning Strategy is fully incorporated,
          including use of marketing information and ensuring that all procedures are carefully
          monitored. The inclusion of External Examiner reports and Audit reports in re-
          validation events, and the rigour of module validation in-between the re-validation of
          courses should also to be considered in this review.

    [5]   The Academic Registry is invited to include DTRS in the current trial of the ARQUE
          software for the statistical analysis of modules/courses. This will help establishing the
          comparability and compatibility of marking across all modules and courses, including
          comparing partnerships.

    [6]   The Department and the Academic Registry is asked to establish how students in
          partnerships can pursue their studies on a full-time distance basis.

    [7]   The Panel recommended that the University should have a Staff Handbook for all staff.


Signed: ……………………………………..                                      Date:……………………..
(Chairman, Audit Panel)



Signed:……………………………………..                                       Date:………………………
(External Assessor




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