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):
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 raised in the last few years, and how they were resolved:
Social Learning SpacesBoth 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 CommunityIn 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 continue working on this issue from 2022-23.
History and PoliticsStudents 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 FeedbackStudents 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. However, students note that there are still issues with the clarity of the marking criteria, which we will continue to work on.
Module AllocationStudents 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.