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					               Subject Review Report




                      October 1999 Q15/2000




The Queen’s University of Belfast

           Anatomy and Physiology
Reviewing the Quality of Education                            The aspects of provision are:
                                                                 Curriculum Design, Content and Organisation
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
(QAA) was established in 1997. It has responsibility for         Teaching, Learning and Assessment
assessing the quality of higher education (HE) in England
                                                                 Student Progression and Achievement
and Northern Ireland from 1 October 1997 under the
terms of a contract with the Higher Education Funding            Student Support and Guidance
Council for England (HEFCE).                                     Learning Resources
The purposes of subject review are: to ensure that the           Quality Management and Enhancement.
public funding provided is supporting education of an
acceptable quality, to provide public information on that     Peer Review
education through the publication of reports such as this     Reviewers are academic and professional peers in the
one, and to provide information and insights to               subject. Most are members of the academic staff of UK
encourage improvements in education.                          HE institutions. Others are drawn from industry,
The main features of the subject review method are:           commerce, private practice and the professions.

Review against Aims and Objectives                            Combination of Internal and External Processes

The HE sector in England and Northern Ireland is              The review method has two main processes:
diverse. The HEFCE funds education in over 140                   Preparation by the subject provider of a self-
institutions of HE and 75 further education (FE) colleges.       assessment in the subject, based on the provider's
These institutions vary greatly in size, subject provision,      own aims and objectives, and set out in the structure
history and statement of purpose. Each has autonomy to           provided by the core set of aspects of provision.
determine its institutional mission, and its specific aims
and objectives at subject level.                                 A three-day review visit carried out by a team of
                                                                 reviewers. The review team grades each of the
Subject review is carried out in relation to the subject         aspects of provision to make a graded profile of the
aims and objectives set by each provider. It measures the        provision, and derives from that profile an overall
extent to which each subject provider is successful in           judgement. Provided that each aspect is graded 2 or
achieving its aims and objectives.                               better, the quality of the education is approved.
Readers should be cautious in making comparisons of
subject providers solely on the basis of subject review       Published Reports
outcomes. Comparisons between providers with                  In addition to individual review reports, the QAA will
substantively different aims and objectives would have        publish subject overview reports at the conclusion of
little validity.                                              reviews in a subject. The subject overview reports are
                                                              distributed widely to schools and FE colleges, public
Review of the Student Learning Experience and Student
                                                              libraries and careers services. Both the review reports
Achievement
                                                              and the subject overview reports are available in hard
Subject review examines the wide range of influences          copy and are also on the world-wide web (see back
that shape the learning experiences and achievements of       cover for details).
students. It covers the full breadth of teaching and
learning activities, including: direct observation of
classroom/seminar/workshop/ laboratory situations, the
methods of reviewing students' work, students' work
and achievements, the curriculum, staff and staff
development, the application of resources (library,
information technology, equipment), and student
support and guidance. This range of activities is
captured within a core set of six aspects of provision,
each of which is graded on a four-point scale (1 to 4), in
ascending order of merit.
                                                       Anatomy and Physiology




Introduction
1. This Report presents the findings of a review in October 1999 of the
quality of education in anatomy and physiology provided by The Queen's
University of Belfast.
2. The Queen's University of Belfast received its Royal Charter in 1908.
The University has some 20,000 full-time and part-time undergraduate
students on credit-bearing courses and 4,000 taught postgraduates (full,
part-time and by distance learning). A further 1,400 students are pursuing
research degrees on a full, part-time or collaborative basis.
3. The Belfast Medical School has been responsible for the delivery of a
medical education in Northern Ireland since 1835. The Departments of
Anatomy and Physiology are part of the School of Medicine which is in
the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. The School and Faculty have
been considerably restructured over the last two years and a major review
of the provision is also in progress. There are some 170 undergraduates
and 13 postgraduates currently taking courses in the two departments,
taught by 17 full-time and six part-time academic staff. These staff are also
heavily involved in teaching other students in the Faculty, including those
taking intercalated degrees, so that the overall student:staff ratio
approaches 25:1.
4.    The following provision forms the basis of the review:
     BSc (Hons) Anatomy
     BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science
     BSc (Hons) Physiology
     MMedSc in Laboratory Science.
5. The statistical data in this Introduction are provided by the institution
itself. The aims and objectives are presented overleaf. These also are
provided by the institution.




                                                                       page 1
The Queen's University of Belfast




The Aims and Objectives for Anatomy                            Objectives
and Physiology                                                 On successful completion of the BSc courses in this
                                                               provision, students should be able to:
Aims                                                           1.   explain basic principles in the area of their study
The overall aims of the science provision in the School of          and apply these to the understanding and solution
Medicine are in harmony with the University's Mission               of a range of scientific and academic problems;
Statement - 'to promote education and scholarship of           2.   demonstrate relevant practical skills, including
the highest quality, to foster excellence in teaching and           procedures involving biological tissues;
research, to acquire and disseminate knowledge for the
benefit of society at large and to contribute to the           3.   demonstrate a breadth and depth of knowledge in
educational, cultural, social and economic well-being of            areas relevant to their pathway - anatomy, clinical
Northern Ireland'.                                                  science and/or physiology - of a good academic
                                                                    and/or standard appropriate to the level and
Within this context, the provision aims to:                         module of study;
1.   provide a modern education in anatomy, physiology         4.   critically evaluate scientific literature so that their
     and the various biomedical sciences for students               practice is based on the best available evidence;
     with different intellectual interests and a variety of
     career aspirations;                                       5.   give evidence of an awareness of research
                                                                    techniques, hypothesis testing and attitudes gained
2.   focus on a quality academic education including                from exposure to original research;
     where appropriate the acquisition of technical skills;
                                                               6.   demonstrate a willingness to adapt to change and
3.   advance students' knowledge of fundamental                     an ability to learn;
     principles in a range of anatomical, clinical science
     and physiological subjects;                               7.   demonstrate an appreciation of the limits and
                                                                    significance of scientific findings;
4.   provide an educational environment within which
     students can develop an interest in and enthusiasm        8.   demonstrate an ability to develop appropriate
     for their subject, and realise their potential by              commentaries from critically evaluated literature
     acquiring intellectual, scientific, technical and study        and present the information and arguments in a
     skills appropriate to self-directed study and lifelong         logical, balanced and coherent manner;
     learning;                                                 9.   work effectively with colleagues as part of an
5.   foster learning through the study of the scientific            intellectual team understanding the issues involved
     literature, including original research papers;                in maintaining an effective team;

6.   equip students with a range of personal/transferable      10. appreciate the need to recognise personal
     skills;                                                       limitations and enlist appropriate help;

7.   provide opportunities for some students to work on        11. demonstrate effective communication skills,
     issues/problems identified by local employers;                especially oral presentation, discussion and scientific
                                                                   writing;
8.   provide a supportive student environment where
     students can influence the curriculum.                    12. demonstrate effective information technology (IT)
                                                                   skills, including word-processing, retrieval of
The MMedSc in Laboratory Science in addition to aims               information from various databases (including
4, 5 and 6 aims to:                                                electronic) and, where appropriate, data analysis
9.   advance professional understanding and develop                and statistics;
     scientific, technical and research skills within the      13. demonstrate an understanding of the basic
     area of laboratory medicine;                                  approaches and research strategies used in
                                                                   connection with biological data sets;
                                                               14. demonstrate an ability to formulate clear action
                                                                   plans and an awareness of resource implications,
                                                                   especially adequate time management;




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                                                             Anatomy and Physiology




15. demonstrate an awareness of safe working practice
    and their responsibilities in regard to current health
    and safety legislation;
16. demonstrate an ability to continue independent
    learning relevant to their chosen career.
MMedSc in Laboratory Science
In addition to objectives 1 and 4 to 16, on completion
of this course a student should be able to:
17. demonstrate understanding of the theoretical
    concepts, practices and skills required for certain
    areas of laboratory medicine;
18. demonstrate laboratory competence;
19. evaluate and implement new and effective
    strategies, concepts and ideas.




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The Queen's University of Belfast




Summary of the Review                                      7.   The grades awarded as a result of the review are:

6. The graded profile in paragraph 7 indicates the         Aspects of provision                                 Grade
extent to which the student learning experience and        Curriculum Design, Content and Organisation           4
achievement demonstrate that the aims and objectives
set by the subject provider are being met. The tests and   Teaching, Learning and Assessment                     4
the criteria applied by the reviewers are these:           Student Progression and Achievement                   4

Aspects of provision                                       Student Support and Guidance                          4

1. Curriculum Design, Content and Organisation             Learning Resources                                    4

2. Teaching, Learning and Assessment                       Quality Management and Enhancement                    2

3. Student Progression and Achievement
4. Student Support and Guidance                            8. The quality of education in anatomy and
                                                           physiology at The Queen's University of Belfast is
5. Learning Resources
                                                           approved.
6. Quality Management and Enhancement.

Tests to be applied
To what extent do the student learning experience and
student achievement, within this aspect of provision,
contribute to meeting the objectives set by the subject
provider?
Do the objectives set, and the level of attainment of
those objectives, allow the aims set by the subject
provider to be met?

Scale points

1
The aims and/or objectives set by the subject provider
are not met; there are major shortcomings that must be
rectified.

2
This aspect makes an acceptable contribution to the
attainment of the stated objectives, but significant
improvement could be made.
The aims set by the subject provider are broadly met.

3
This aspect makes a substantial contribution to the
attainment of the stated objectives; however, there is
scope for improvement.
The aims set by the subject provider are substantially
met.

4
This aspect makes a full contribution to the attainment
of the stated objectives.
The aims set by the subject provider are met.




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                                                                                                      Anatomy and Physiology




The Quality of Education                                         through individual research projects, in medical
                                                                 laboratories in the School itself, or two associated local
                                                                 hospitals. These projects are closely related to the main
Curriculum Design, Content and                                   research areas in the School, and graduates acquire
Organisation                                                     advanced technical and research skills that are
                                                                 appropriate for further subject-related research and
9. Undergraduates have a choice of three pathways, in
                                                                 industrial employment. The curriculum does include
anatomy, in physiology and in the more broadly based
                                                                 teaching of medical statistics and external courses that
biomedical science. The majority of students follow the
                                                                 allow insight into management and industry issues.
biomedical science pathway. The first of the three stages
is common to all three pathways, and allows                      13. This aspect makes a full contribution to the
considerable choice of study to students, including              attainment of the stated objectives. The aims set by the
modules taught outside the School. In Stages 2 and 3,            subject provider are met.
students study six modules each year, all from within the        Curriculum Design, Content and Organisation:
School, on specific pathways. Students can change their          Grade 4.
pathway choice, normally up to the end of the first
stage. Many modules provide in-depth study of specific           Teaching, Learning and Assessment
anatomy and physiology topics, but particularly at later
                                                                 14. Teaching, learning and assessment strategy is aimed
stages as depth increases, there are additional broader
                                                                 at promoting the subject-specific knowledge base and
multidisciplinary modules with integrated input from
                                                                 skills, plus personal transferable skills and attitudes
clinical or para-clinical departments in the University,
                                                                 necessary for independent, lifelong learning. This
such as pathology and immunology.
                                                                 strategy is effective in practice in allowing these aims to
10. The currency of the curriculum is ensured by the             be achieved, through progressive emphasis from
close match of modules to the qualifications, experience         teaching foundation subject knowledge and practical
and research profiles of the full-time and visiting NHS          skills, to developing understanding of specialised
teaching staff. It is up-to-date in research, clinical           knowledge and techniques through increased group
practice and industry terms, and an ongoing review of            work and active learning, and finally to research
the biomedical pathway has already led to some                   techniques and critical analysis.
restructuring in the current academic year. A new
                                                                 15. Learning objectives for individual modules are set
foundation skills module was seen to be effective at
                                                                 out in comprehensive study guides that help students
Stage 1, and reorganisation at later stages will allow
                                                                 plan their own work effectively. This is particularly
additional interdisciplinary modules as a result. Many
                                                                 relevant at the third stage, where the double-module
students already have the opportunity to carry out their
                                                                 independent research project for undergraduates allows
projects partially on short-term attachments in the
                                                                 for an extended period of partially self-learning activity
industry or on work proposed by medical charities, with
                                                                 that greatly extends subject-specific expertise, whilst
directly relevant project aims.
                                                                 providing opportunity for new personal skills in
11. The curriculum is well matched to the aims and               communication, time management and problem-solving.
objectives of the provision, and as well as coherence and        The strategy of teaching transferable skills through
increasing depth through the stages, it is particularly          linkage to academically relevant tasks is notably
notable for the seamless introduction of active learning         successful.
through group activities and for the incorporation of
                                                                 16. Some 16 teaching and learning sessions were
interdisciplinary modules. These introduce students very
                                                                 observed in all during the review. They included all stages
effectively to clinical contexts and techniques, to
                                                                 of the undergraduate pathways and the taught
appropriate terminology and to an understanding of the
                                                                 postgraduate course. A wide variety of methods were
ethical issues involved. They also greatly facilitate the full
                                                                 seen, including large and small lectures, tutorials, seminar
achievement of the aims of developing personal
                                                                 presentations, group practical work, projects and
transferable skills, particularly presentational and group
                                                                 laboratory skills sessions. The great majority of observed
leadership skills, as well as competence in IT. Employers
                                                                 sessions demonstrated high-quality student experience
comment favourably on how graduates rapidly integrate
                                                                 that allowed all the learning objectives to be achieved
into the work environment.
                                                                 fully. The research and industry experience of teachers
12. The taught postgraduate course in laboratory                 was fully utilised whenever appropriate to invigorate and
science has relatively little formal teaching and the            maximise learning. Classes were well prepared, often
curriculum is designed very appropriately for delivery           challenging to committed students, and benefited from


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The Queen's University of Belfast




appropriate visual aids and supporting handouts. A few         undergraduate recruitment is largely from school leavers
sessions, whilst achieving their objectives, allowed for       in Northern Ireland with a minimum score of 18 points at
little or no active engagement of students when this           GCE A-Level, applications from those holding suitable
could have helped effectiveness. The variety of teaching       alternative qualifications, and from mature students, are
methods, including the advantage taken of group work           encouraged. Competition for undergraduate admission is
and student-led work in the curriculum, encouraged             intense with approximately 12 applicants for each place,
stimulation and initiative, and has positive effects right     one of the highest ratios in Queen's University, and the
through to eventual employment.                                average score is 20 GCE A-Level points. There are over
                                                               two applicants for each place on the masters degree
17. Assessment methods vary significantly between
                                                               course, on which about a quarter of successful applicants
modules, and are properly directed at the achievement
                                                               come from the Republic of Ireland. Over two-thirds of
of learning objectives. Assessment design is varied and
                                                               entrants to both undergraduate and postgraduate taught
always relevant, and details of examination and
                                                               courses are female.
coursework are clearly set out in students' study guides.
As well as unseen written examinations, and written            21. Rates of progression through the undergraduate
coursework, assessment techniques include oral and             courses are very high with low losses for academic
written group reports, with an element of peer                 reasons. Some students choose to transfer to other
assessment, individual project reports, dissertations and      degree programmes but there is a constant demand for
laboratory logbooks. Much assessment is formative, and         transfer in at Stage 2 from elsewhere in the University;
is returned quickly to students with helpful comments.         this is encouraged whenever places are available. Over
                                                               80 per cent of original undergraduate entrants to the
18. Consistency of marking is addressed through
                                                               subject graduate successfully in the same subject. There
moderation and checking of examination papers by
                                                               are hardly any withdrawals from or failures to complete
external examiners, by all examination scripts being
                                                               the masters course.
anonymous to the markers, and by incorporation of the
University 'conceptual marking scheme' into marking            22. Extensive examination of student work and
schemes. The external examiners are generally satisfied        teaching observations, meetings with current and former
with the fairness of marking, and their involvement in         students and their employers and examination of
the process. They have raised a number of points in            external examiners' reports, all confirm that graduates
recent years, including lack of oral examinations for          from both undergraduate and postgraduate courses
borderline candidates and the application of University        achieve a high level of attainment of the intended
rules on the classification of degrees at borderlines. Not     learning outcomes. Aims of developing knowledge and
all have been resolved fully to the satisfaction of external   understanding of fundamental principals, cognitive and
examiners, but all have led to constructive debate and to      subject-specific skills are well fulfilled. Over 75 per cent
improvements in overall assessment.                            of undergraduate students have been awarded First or
                                                               Upper Second class degrees and over 25 per cent of
19. This aspect makes a full contribution to the
                                                               postgraduate students have been awarded Distinctions
attainment of the stated objectives. The aims set by the
                                                               in the last three years.
subject provider are met.
                                                               23. Progression to employment is commendably high
Teaching, Learning and Assessment:
                                                               for both the undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Grade 4.
                                                               First-destination data over a period of years indicate that
                                                               over 90 per cent of undergraduates and all
Student Progression and Achievement                            postgraduates are known to obtain permanent
20. Target recruitment to the three undergraduate              employment or enter study for higher degrees,
courses is 50 students in total each year. There are 12        indicating the full achievement of the aims of these
funded places available on the MMedSc taught masters           courses. Employers and former students who were
course in Laboratory Science for postgraduate students         consulted emphasised that undergraduate students leave
who wish to develop their academic and technical skills in     with excellent key transferable skills. Former students
laboratory medicine. There are a few additional places for     were particularly enthusiastic about the value of their
graduate students with independent funding, but an             group working and communication skills. Employers
overall limit is enforced to ensure that all students can      were also very impressed with the range of subject
undertake a fully appropriate and challenging personal         specific skills with which the graduate students are
project. Postgraduate applicants must have at least a good     equipped. All these attainments are fully supported by
Lower Second class degree in a related subject. These          external examiners' reports, and destination data has
recruitment aims are achieved very successfully. While         been monitored in detail for several years.

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                                                                                                   Anatomy and Physiology




24. This aspect makes a full contribution to the               29. Students reported considerable satisfaction with all
attainment of the stated objectives. The aims set by the       the arrangements for their support and emphasised the
subject provider are met.                                      easy access they had to academic, technical and support
                                                               staff in the Departments and School and the friendly and
Student Progression and Achievement:
                                                               helpful response they invariably received. They
Grade 4.
                                                               mentioned the useful role played by the staff-student
Student Support and Guidance                                   committee in overall support. Students are actively
                                                               involved in the development of the curriculum through
25. The overall strategy for student support is based on       this joint consultative committee (JCC), giving further
a web of formal and informal access to departmental            evidence of a dynamic relationship with staff. Students
and support services staff, with a strong emphasis on          were also well informed on the University's central
staff approachability. A greater measure of guaranteed         services for students, some provided through the
pastoral contact has been introduced recently with             Students' Union, though with the exception of the
individual pastoral tutors for first and second-year           careers service, they made little call upon them. The
undergraduates, who meet them at least twice each              careers service is well linked into the School and provides
year, and a student parenting scheme. Matched groups           advice from the first year. Contact is continued through
of second year students (the parents) are attached to a        the courses, encouraging students to think about their
particular tutor, and support first-year students attached     career options. Careers staff visit students on a
to the same tutor.                                             timetabled basis in the Departments as well as providing
26. Applicants are not normally interviewed, but the           a range of central events. In the third year there are
University has open days where prospective students            curriculum vitae writing and interview technique
meet current students and staff are active in visiting         workshops. The service is effective for both first degree
schools in the region, including those with no history of      and masters degree students.
pupils joining the University. The prospectus is attractive    30. This aspect makes a full contribution to the
and accurate, and on enrolment the course handbooks            attainment of the stated objectives. The aims set by the
give comprehensive information on the services available       subject provider are met.
for students as well as academic information. The
University organises an induction week, and the                Student Support and Guidance:
Biomedical Society, run by second-year students, has a         Grade 4.
welcoming event. The effectiveness of these measures is
demonstrated by the large number of applicants, and
                                                               Learning Resources
their subsequent excellent progress.                           31. The resource needs for students studying for the
                                                               science degrees are very similar to those on closely
27. An adviser of studies guides undergraduates on
                                                               related courses in the School of Medicine. The strategy is
choice of programme and modules, and any
                                                               to share the necessary resources, with benefit to all
prerequisites. The adviser also has a role in pastoral care,
                                                               students. There are no extra laboratory resource needs
as do individual project supervisors who have
                                                               for the taught masters degree students since their major
considerable influence at Stage 3. Whilst there are no
                                                               work benefits from being carried out in existing research
individual academic tutors as such, in practice the
                                                               and hospital laboratories. Therefore, whilst course
arrangement of work in anatomy and histology means
                                                               resource planning starts at departmental level the overall
that students do work in groups and are overseen by an
                                                               provision is co-ordinated by the School Undergraduate
appropriate tutor. Stage 3 projects are individually
                                                               Learning Resources Sub-Committee.
supervised and students meet regularly with their
supervisor to discuss progress and problems.                   32. Generous library provision for the courses is located
                                                               principally at three neighbouring sites; the Biomedical
28. Students do not normally have placements away
                                                               Library, Medical Library and Science Library, which
from the University during their courses, other than
                                                               together provide 848 study places. A further 380 study
short periods in local laboratories or industry as part of
                                                               places are also available at other nearby University
their projects, where contact with the Departments is
                                                               locations. Students have long hours of access during
undiminished. However, a number are able to spend a
year in the USA on a course sponsored by the Training
and Employment Agency at the end of their second year,
and others have taken modules in partner universities in
North America. Students reported that their experience
has been very positive.


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The Queen's University of Belfast




term-time, typically between 0900 and 2130 hours.                include a laboratory with 110 monocular microscopes,
Multiple copies of the core course textbooks are held at         networked video facilities and six portable histology
one or more of these sites and they operate short-term           units. The anatomy laboratory has a large dissection
loan facilities to increase student access to key texts. There   room taking up to 150 students, fully equipped with
are also the essential journals, an interlibrary loan service    audiovisual facilities, plus a range of other rooms of
and electronic world-wide web-based access to support            varying size providing flexible accommodation for small
the learning objectives of undergraduate provision.              group teaching. The dissection room has an adequate
However, there was some minor concern expressed about            number of prosections, skeletons, anatomical models
the availability and access to research journals by Stage 3      and cadavers. Stage 3 and MMedSc students usually
students. The postgraduate provision is supplemented by          make use of research laboratories containing dedicated
a good range of journals associated with individual              specialised equipment for their final double-module
research units. A library representative for the subject         projects. The laboratory and lecturing accommodation is
areas of anatomy and physiology sits on the Library Users        very fully utilised but is well-maintained and appropriate
Committee. The textbook stocks are reviewed annually by          for the aims and objectives of the programmes.
the library in response to questionnaires sent out to
                                                                 36. The Departments of Anatomy and Physiology have
academic staff on curricular needs. The University library
                                                                 12 full-time and one part-time technicians in total, most
catalogue is integrated and computerised to facilitate
                                                                 of whom support teaching, and some are allocated
library searches that can be carried out from all terminals
                                                                 specifically to certain practical classes. Excellent
and PCs on the University network.
                                                                 collaboration, to the benefit of student experience, is
33. Appropriate computing facilities for students are            evident between academic and technical staff. In
based on a network of centrally supported Student                addition to technical staff, a pool of part-time
Computer Centres, providing open access to 600                   laboratory demonstrators and teaching assistants
workstations at 15 sites including one in the Medical            support teaching, and administrative staff also make a
Biology Centre (MBC). In addition the anatomy and                considerable contribution, including provision of
physiology departments have about 40 computers                   contact points for students.
located in, or near to, laboratories. All PCs are of suitable
                                                                 37. This aspect makes a full contribution to the
specification, with a five-year replacement policy and a
                                                                 attainment of the stated objectives. The aims set by the
wide range of up-to-date general purpose software,
                                                                 subject provider are met.
together with internet access and email. Electronic
access to journals augments the library provision. Self-         Learning Resources:
directed learning is facilitated by dedicated terminals in       Grade 4.
the Department of Anatomy which give access to
specialist computer-aided learning anatomical material.          Quality Management and Enhancement
Trained staff supervisors provide IT support at all              38. The University has specified quality assurance
computer centres and all students receive induction              processes described in five Quality Handbooks published
training in the use of the centres as part of their              in March 1999. The booklet dealing with curriculum
induction week.                                                  review and development details the processes which
34. The core teaching accommodation is in the MBC,               should be undertaken on annual and quinquennial
close to the main university campus, that houses                 cycles: module and pathway review should occur
teaching and research accommodation for anatomy,                 annually and subject area review every five years. The
biochemistry, biology and physiology. There are two              quality procedures were reviewed by a QAA continuation
200-seat lecture theatres with a full range of audiovisual       audit of the University in March 1999. The University is
facilities, smaller lecture theatres, seminar rooms and          reviewing the reporting mechanisms from Schools and
teaching laboratories. There is a student common room            Faculties to enhance their role. The reviewers did not
in the MBC and the main social and dining facilities are         find compelling evidence that systematic reporting is yet
located at the Students' Union within five minutes walk.         in place in the subject area.

35. The main teaching laboratory in physiology has 120           39. The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the
places, two separate video networks, overhead                    three Schools of Dentistry, Nursing and Medicine
projection facilities and networked PCs for data                 resulted from a considerable reorganisation in 1998. The
acquisition and manipulation. The laboratory has a               Faculty remained responsible for curriculum reviews,
reasonably wide range of equipment for practical work            though the change of organisation has caused some
at Stages 1 and 2. The main anatomy teaching facilities          confusion in staff with the names, and more importantly



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                                                                                                    Anatomy and Physiology




the roles, of committees. The University has Learning           44. External examiners' reports are received by the
and Teaching Committees at central, faculty and school          Dean of Medicine, and the Heads of Departments of
levels with responsibility for quality processes.               Anatomy and Physiology respond to them. The reports
Curriculum issues are discussed at the Science Education        confirm the involvement of external examiners with the
Committee that reports to School Board. This committee          provision and their support for the standard of
structure should provide routes for the passage of              education. There is evidence that any concerns they
information from the central committees to the School,          have are fully discussed and often acted upon. There is,
and complete loops back to the centre. However, there           however, no clear reporting route that confirms that this
was only limited evidence of receipt, discussion and            process has occurred. Nor does module review always
dissemination of such information in the committee              refer to external examiners' comments.
minutes seen by the reviewers. The reporting route for
                                                                45. New lecturers are required to attend staff
the taught postgraduate MMedSc was not identified
                                                                development sessions and there is an established
within the committee minutes, although the course
                                                                mentoring system. Although the Departments also have
academic results are reviewed by the Degree Board.
                                                                a sound process for developing the teaching skills of new
40. The two departments share an effective staff-student        teaching assistants and demonstrators, implementation
JCC which is chaired by a postgraduate research student.        is not complete. Uptake of staff development by
There is also a small separate JCC for taught                   established staff is variable, although there is a limited
postgraduates. These committees provide a conduit for           requirement of two development sessions in five years.
student views to be passed to other committees within           Peer review of teaching is not an established process in
schools and faculties, and there is good evidence that          the departments, though some staff may experience it
prompt and effective action often results on issues that        elsewhere in the Faculty. Dissemination of good practice
have been raised by students at the JCC.                        is hence not guaranteed, and an effective opportunity to
                                                                guide staff development is lost.
41. Students evaluate each module they undertake in
an annual questionnaire and staff compose a module              46. The self-assessment is descriptive and has limited
report, following examination of the evaluations by a           evaluation. It has benefited, however, from being
Module Review Group. Although the Quality Handbook              discussed by the JCC before completion. The reviewers
suggests a range of topics that may be included within a        believe that the departments would benefit from more
module review, only the basic comment on student                evaluative data on which to judge the effectiveness of
satisfaction was present in the majority of module              their quality systems.
reports examined by the reviewers. Module reports are
                                                                47. This aspect makes an acceptable contribution to the
referred to the JCC where the views of the student body
                                                                attainment of the stated objectives, but significant
are verified by the student representatives.
                                                                improvement could be made. The aims set by the
42. A separate, confidential, student questionnaire on          subject provider are broadly met.
satisfaction with teaching by individual staff members is       Quality Management and Enhancement:
also part of the annual student evaluation of modules.          Grade 2.
Individual staff members were seen to use this feedback
information for personal development. A system exists to
link this teacher evaluation to staff appraisal (currently in   Conclusions
abeyance), and training or module review. However, no
                                                                48. The quality of education in anatomy and physiology
reflective reports on the effectiveness of these processes
                                                                at The Queen's University of Belfast is approved. All
were apparent.
                                                                aspects make at least an acceptable contribution to the
43. So far there have been no annual pathway reports            attainment of the stated objectives and the aims are at
backed up by full analysis of module reports. The three         least broadly met. The reviewers come to this
undergraduate programmes were jointly reviewed for              conclusion, based upon the review visit together with an
the annual pathway review for 1998-99, there was no             analysis of the self-assessment and additional data
evidence of discussion of the suitability of the range of       provided.
modules offered for each programme. A separate Faculty
                                                                49. The positive features of the education in anatomy
review of the Biomedical Science programme was
                                                                and physiology in relation to the aspects of provision
undertaken and several outcomes identified, which are
                                                                include the following:
now being implemented. It is not clear how this will be
followed up for the other two science degrees.



                                                                                                                    page 9
The Queen's University of Belfast




a. The breadth and depth of the curricula which allow
   all the aims and objectives to be achieved
   (paragraphs 10; 11).
b. The match of the masters degree in Laboratory
   Science to the future careers of its graduates
   (paragraph 12).
c. The effective way in which key personal subject and
   transferable skills are embedded in the curricula
   (paragraph 15).
d. The high quality of teaching, benefiting from the
   research and industry experience of staff, leading to
   full achievement of learning objectives (paragraph 16).
e. Effective student-led learning sessions (paragraph 16).
f. Success in attracting large numbers of high-calibre
   applicants, who are retained on the programmes and
   who proceed to obtain good degrees (paragraphs
   20 to 22).
g. The satisfaction expressed by employers in the
   education received by students, and the very high
   proportion who proceed immediately to employment,
   further study or research (paragraph 23).
h. The supportive learning environment ensured by
   helpful and friendly staff (paragraph 29).
i. Timely advice and help from the careers service
   (paragraph 29).
j. Rapid response to students' concerns and suggestions
   aided by effective consultative committees
   (paragraphs 29; 40).
k. Generous provision of well-organised library resources,
   IT hardware and software (paragraphs 32; 33).
50. The quality of education in anatomy and physiology
could be improved by addressing the following issues:
a. More effective application of quality assurance
   procedures and records is required to close loops and
   ensure follow-up from existing processes (paragraphs
   42 to 44).
b. Measures for identification and dissemination of
   good practice, such as students' feedback
   questionnaires, on the effectiveness of teaching and
   teachers, and peer review of teaching, need more
   robust application (paragraphs 42; 45).
c. All staff undertaking teaching duties should be
   encouraged to take up the good opportunities
   which exist for training and development
   (paragraphs 42; 45).




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