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Student Voice

What opportunities do I have to provide feedback to the department?

The Department of History actively seeks feedback from our students about how we are doing and how we can improve. Please see your handbook for more information about formal feedback mechanisms (SSLC, module feedback, surveys, and our complaints process):

Undergraduate Handbook

Postgraduate Taught Handbook

Postgraduate Research Handbook

Beyond these formal mechanisms, the department also has regular informal opportunities for students to work with academic staff to improve the department for all students. We are always keen to hear from students about how we can improve, and we really value your views and opinions about the course. Keep an eye on your student newsletter and the screens in the department's Social Learning Spaces to hear more about how you can get involved.

How is student's feedback on the course acted on?

Feedback that relates to the whole department, rather than to a specific student or module, should ideally be raised at the SSLC for discussion amongst the student body. From there it will be taken to the relevant departmental committee (usually the Education Committee, Social Inclusion and Diversity Committee, or Learning Community Working Group), for discussion and action. Committees can be slow-moving, but the department aims to communicate the outcomes of these discussions, and any actions, as soon as possible via the relevant student newsletter.

Here are examples of issues or suggestions raised in the last few years, and how they were resolved:

  • Industrial Action
    As UCU Industrial Action took place throughout 2022-23, students on the SSLC held the department to account, as both the Head of Department and Deputy Head for Learning and Teaching attended SSLC meetings and answered student questions.
  • Marking Criteria
    Students identified that the departmental marking criteria for written work was not as clear as it could be. Staff had a meeting to devise new marking criteria, which was then discussed by Student Voice Ambassadors in the department Education Committee and then taken to the SSLC for broader consultation. The updated marking criteria will be finalised in Summer 2023.
  • Social Learning Spaces
    Both staff and students identified that the History Social Learning Spaces in the new building were not identifiably "History" spaces. Especially in the wake of the pandemic, we felt that it was especially important to build a sense of community using these spaces as hubs. In order to gather feedback about how these spaces should be decorated, the department ran a series of lunchtime consultations in Spring 2022, and then published the plan in June 2022. You can find out more about what students and staff chose on the Social Learning Spaces webpage.
  • Learning Community
    In part due to the pandemic, but also due to the size of the department, students reported that they did not feel part of a community of staff and students. To combat this, the department has put together a range of Student Engagement Opportunities, developed the Social Learning Spaces, and established a Learning Community Working Group of staff and students to work together on this issue. Events have included the department Module Fair, Welcome Week socials, end of Year Quiz, and various other extracurricular activities.
  • History and Politics
    Students on joint degrees, especially History and Politics, let us know that they were confused about how to work across the two departments, from academic concerns like which referencing style to use, to a need for a specific staff contact to support their needs. The question of referencing was raised at the Education Committee and then the full Department Staff Meeting, and it was agreed that while History recommends MHRA, Joint Honours students could use any footnote style they prefer, in line with the requirements for PAIS. This change is now reflected in the Undergraduate Handbook. In terms of staff support for History and Politics students more generally, in summer 2022 the department appointed a Director of Student Experience for the History and Politics Degree.
  • Essay Feedback
    Students were confused about the variety of ways that staff approached essay feedback. In 2021 the department agreed a proforma for the length and substance for feedback on assessments, which students report has made feedback much clearer.
  • Module Allocation
    Students raised concerns that they did not get their top choice modules as part of the department allocation process. While this cannot always be resolved due to capacity limits on modules and staff departures, in 2020 the department redesigned the module allocation process with significant improvements, and now almost all students receive at least one of their top choices.