UNIVERSITY OF KENT AT CANTERBURY by keara

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                         UNIVERSITY OF KENT AT CANTERBURY

                    Periodic Review of Taught Programmes in Law:
                                     2-3 May 2002

1. Programmes Reviewed

   The Panel reviewed all taught programmes of study offered by the Kent Law School (KLS), see
   appendix A.

2. Membership of the Review Panel
   - Dr John Peirson (Department of Economics, chair of the panel)
   - Professor Abdul Paliwala (Warwick Law School, University of Warwick)
   - Dr Christopher Chaffin (School of European Culture and Languages)
   - Dr Keith Lampard (Humanities Faculty Office)

3. Introduction

   The Law School was founded in 1966 as part of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Expansion has
   been rapid in recent years with a growth from around 493 FTEs in 1993-94 to 883 in 2001-02.
   Further growth to 978 FTEs is projected for 2004-05. The School has a long tradition of ‘widening
   participation’, including the provision of places for mature students and sub degree programmes.
   The Law School has made innovative use of IT to assist in the delivery of its programmes. The
   School's expertise in IT has facilitated the development and delivery of programmes at the
   University of Kent at Medway and Bermuda College.

   Kent Law School submitted a claim for excellence in 1993 under the old Quality Assessment
   Exercise. The School was not visited but was deemed satisfactory. The School has not been
   subject to a QAA review. Internal reviews were conducted in 1995 (primarily focussed on
   research) and in 1996 (a periodic review). These reviews were generally positive and endorsed the
   School’s view that they offered a ‘distinctive, rigorous and high quality law degree’ but raised
   concerns about the following: the breadth of programmes, a narrow range of teaching and
   assessment methods, a relatively narrow choice of options, course documentation, the use of part-
   time teachers, four year degrees and student feedback. These statements were investigated in the
   course of this review.

4. Summary of the Review

   Overall, the Panel considered that the quality of provision by Kent Law School to be excellent.

   The Panel recommends that the programmes under review be continued. The Panel considers that
   Kent Law School achieves its stated aims. It has complied with the requirements of the
   University's Code of Practice and it has done so in a manner that enhances the education provided.

   The Panel found the self-assessment document prepared for the review to provide a full, fair and
   honest appraisal of the School's provision. It demonstrates the School's reflective, critical and
   innovative approach to its learning and teaching, and its commitment to quality enhancement. The
   statistical information was thorough and clearly presented. The School engaged positively and
   honestly with all stages of the review process.




5. Learning Outcomes




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   The Panel considers the Kent Law School's statements on learning outcomes to be appropriate in
   relation to its aims and to the Quality Assurance Agency benchmark statements. KLS makes very
   good use of library and IT resources and staff teaching skills in delivering the stated learning
   outcomes. The Panel was particularly impressed by the innovative use of e-learning materials and
   the opportunities provided by the Law Clinic.

   The Panel found evidence that a great emphasis is put on the development of transferable skills but
   did not consider this aspect to be adequately reflected in aims and learning outcomes expressed in
   the Self Evaluation Document. The Panel recommends that KLS reviews its statements of learning
   outcomes with a view to putting greater emphasis on key skills.

6. Curriculum and Assessment

   The curriculum provided is appropriate to the learning outcomes and the level of each award.
   Students are able to demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes. The Panel was impressed
   by the content and delivery of certificate programmes off campus.

   There have been major improvements to the structure and content of the curriculum in recent
   years. The development of the ‘Common Platform’ for students in the early stages of virtually all
   undergraduate Law programmes is highly commended by the Panel.

   KLS has maintained a traditional pattern of assessment with a strong emphasis on written
   examinations and a small contribution from coursework. This has begun to change and there is
   evidence of good practice in the new assessment procedures. The Panel recommends that
   assessment procedures for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are reviewed.

7. Teaching and Learning

   The Panel considers teaching and learning at Kent Law School to be excellent. Recruitment to
   KLS programmes has been buoyant and the School has a strong track record of widening
   participation. Teaching and learning methods have been successfully adapted to changes in
   student profile and numbers. The Panel commends this achievement to the rest of the University.
   In particular, it commends the development of the Legal Process module, the introduction of the
   Common Platform and the use of IT to support programmes delivered in Canterbury, Medway and
   Bermuda.

   The Panel found evidence of student concern about the lack of student participation in some
   seminars. It was satisfied that KLS staff were aware of the issue and various measures to improve
   the situation were discussed.

   The Law Clinic provides an excellent opportunity for students to gain practical legal and
   transferrable skills. It is a feature that makes the provision at Kent distinctive and it helps to recruit
   students. Students who participate in the Clinic find it a very good preparation for their subsequent
   careers. The Panel commends this aspect of KLS's provision.

8. Student Progression and Support

   Recruitment to undergraduate programmes offered by Kent Law School has been good. After a
   period of stable application levels there appears to have been a significant increase in applications
   this year following the introduction of a new programme in Law and Criminology. The average A-
   level score of KLS students has remained high while the conversion rate from application to
   registration has improved.

   KLS also has a substantial number of taught postgraduate students, with a large cohort following
   International Commercial Law.



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   Rates of student progression for programmes in KLS are generally very high. Where rates of
   progression have been less satisfactory at Medway and on the part time Certificate programme,
   appropriate action has been taken to improve the situation.

   Completion rates are high and levels of achievement are also high. The Panel noted the School had
   successfully addressed a problem of a rising number of third class and pass degrees. However, the
   Panel had concerns about the proportion of students obtaining I and II.1 degrees given the level of
   the student intake. A level of 60% of students in this category might be expected. The Panel
   recommends that further consideration be given to this issue within the School, and at University
   level with respect to the interpretation of the examination conventions.

   The School generally has an effective system for student support. Both postgraduate and
   undergraduate students commented favourably on the accessibility of staff. At the undergraduate
   level, the School has introduced an effective Personal Academic Support System and the School
   has developed improved mechanisms for identifying students ‘at risk’. The Panel hopes that
   further improvements will be possible when the School comes to use the University's new ‘Course
   Management System’ in the future.

   The Panel had a concern that some postgraduate students were unclear about the academic support
   structure and recommends that steps be taken to improve the clarity of arrangements for
   postgraduate students. Additionally, concerns were expressed about assumed prior knowledge of
   the British legal system by students from different legal backgrounds, delays in second marking of
   essays, variable supervision styles, and feedback on issues raised by students.

9. Learning Resources

   Library and IT resources supporting Kent Law School programmes are excellent and are greatly
   appreciated by the students. On line materials supplied by the library are extensive. IT support for
   learning and teaching is equally extensive and innovative. The Panel commends the achievements
   of Kent Law School in this area.

   The provision of space for Kent Law School does raise some concern. Lack of suitable teaching
   space and the lack of offices for part time teaching staff affects the ability of KLS to pursue current
   and future plans. Lack of space will constrain the development of certain innovative learning
   initiatives and any future expansion. In particular, the Law Clinic is very much constrained by the
   availability of space and the opportunities for students to participate in this valuable activity are
   restricted.

   While the Panel was impressed by the breadth of KLS's provision, it was concerned that this may
   over extend the staff resources of the School. The Panel recommends that consideration be given
   as to whether some rationalisation of degree programmes might lead to a more effective
   deployment of resources.

10. Maintenance and Enhancement of Quality and Standards

   The Panel considers that the procedures for the maintenance and enhancement of quality and
   standards operated by Kent Law School directly reflect the University's Code of Practice. The
   Panel found a range of examples of excellence in their operation. Examples were given of how the
   system identified problems, produced and implemented changes, and how the outcomes were
   being evaluated.

   There are good examples of staff development eg IT, library, PGHCE and the use of staff
   awaydays. However, a more formal School staff development strategy is recommended.

   The Panel had some concerns that feedback on student concerns at the postgraduate level could be
   handled more effectively.


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11. Items for Commendation

   The Panel highly commends the following:

   i) The great importance attached to legal education and student support in Kent Law School's
      culture.

   ii) The innovative critical approach to the learning and teaching of law.

   iii) The commitment to widening participation and the wholehearted effort devoted to outreach
        teaching and its organisation.

   iv) The excellent development of IT and Library resources and their innovative use in learning and
       teaching.

   v) The development of the module on Legal Process and the concept of the ‘Common Platform’
      for undergraduate Law programmes.

   vi) The successful adaptation of teaching and learning methods to changes in student profile and
       numbers.

   vii) The Law Clinic and the excellent opportunities it provides to students to develop practical legal
        skills.

12. Matters for further consideration

   The Panel recommends that further consideration be given to the following:

   i) The accommodation constraints on the School, particularly with regard to the development of
      the Law Clinic, (University).

   ii) Whether there is scope for saving staff time through the rationalisation of the wide range of the
       degree programmes.

   iii) Further consideration should be given to the proportion of students achieving first or upper
        second class honours and whether there is a need to change marking practices or the
        examination conventions.

   iv) The School's statements on learning outcomes need revision so that they reflect the transferable
       skills that are being delivered.

   v)    The School should continue to review its assessment procedures for undergraduate and
        postgraduate programmes with a view to encouraging a more diverse pattern of assessment
        relating more closely to learning outcomes.

   vi) The School should review its handling of issues raised by postgraduates and feedback to
       postgraduate students.

KJL/leb
S: Programme Reviews/Law May 2002




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                                                                          Appendix A

                               Periodic Review of Programmes in Law

                                     List of Programmes Reviewed
Undergraduate Certificate Programmes
Certificate in Law and Society (Canterbury)
Certificate in Law and Society (Bermuda)
Certificate in Law and Society (Medway)

Undergraduate Diplomas
Diploma in European Legal Studies
Diploma in English Law
Diploma in Law

Undergraduate Honours Degree Programmes

a) Single Honours
Law
English and German Law
English and French Law
English and Spanish Law
English and Italian Law
European Legal Studies

b) Joint Honours
The Law contribution to the following programmes:
Law and Accounting & Finance
Law and Business Administration
Law and Criminology
Law and Economics
Law and Social Anthropology
Law and Sociology
Law and Welfare
Law with French (Language)
Law with German (Language)
Law and History
Law and Philosophy
Politics and Law
Psychology and Law

Postgraduate Programmes

a) LLM/MA Programmes
International Commerical Law
European Law
European Integration (MA)
Environmental Law & Policy
Medical Law
Criminal Justice
International Law with International Relations

b) Diploma
International Commerical Law
European Law
Environmental Law & Policy
Medical Law
Criminal Justice




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