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Departmental Management and Support (Part 1)

1. Departments operating JCDCs should clearly identify which department is the “home” department for each course. The precise arrangements and allocation of responsibilities for a particular JCDC may vary, but “home” departments are often those which oversee admissions onto a particular course, hold the student files, check and approve OMR registration, maintain web resources for the course and host final examination boards. Even if responsibility for the administration of the course is divided equally between departments, a default “home” department, where all initial enquiries can be directed, should be identified. In some cases, JCDCs have a dedicated “home” office (PPE, for example). In others, two or more departments may share the role of “home” department and divide up the cohort of students accordingly (ie so that each student has only one dedicated “home” department). In some cases, the home department may change after year 1 or year 2, to reflect the course structure. In all cases, the location and function of the home department should be clearly conveyed to students and recorded centrally.

2. Departments will assign one personal tutor to each student within their home department, and ensure, wherever possible, continuity of personal tutor provision throughout their period of study. Students should not be assigned personal tutors in different departments in different years of study without good reason, nor should they be assigned more than one personal tutor at any one time. However, the arrangements for personal tutors and JCDC students should be discussed with SSLC representatives to ensure that these arrangements respond to the academic needs of JCDC students. Departments should also ensure that there is an identifiable person in the partner department who is in a position to provide academic guidance if necessary. For example, this role might be performed for all students by the liaison officer, or by a number of academics having responsibility for designated students. In some cases, in addition to a personal tutor, students on JCDCs may be assigned subject tutors for particular modules.

3. For each JCDC, the Head of Department in the “home” department should identify a “course director”, usually an experienced (ie non-probationary) academic staff member. In some cases, this person may also be the director of undergraduate studies. The course director has overall responsibility for overseeing the administrative arrangements and managing the support of JCDC students on that particular course. The course director should be clearly identified to the students as the first person to whom they should go when they have questions or difficulties relating to the operation of their course. He/ she will be the person who, as far as possible, will address these questions and concerns directly, liaising with the other department(s) as necessary on the students’ behalf (in other words, without sending students across to other department(s) involved with the course). Course directors will have clearly defined responsibilities for overseeing the smooth-running of JCDCs in respect of:

  • timetabling matters (including teaching times, tests and beginning of year and other meetings) and liaison with timetabling officers in departments. This is an area of recurrent concern with students, particularly when students choose modules in advance, and then later find that they cannot take them because of clashes. Course directors may find it useful to arrange face-to-face meetings between departmental timetabling officers. Course directors (working with liaison officers in other departments – see below) should ensure that all JCDC students receive their timetables before lectures, seminars or other timetabled activities commence. Course directors may wish to explore options to mitigate against timetabling problems, for example through the use of tailored modules for joint programmes, utilising more research based options or by exploiting video capture technology to enhance online provision, noting the need to be sensitive to student desires for formal contact time.
  • co-ordination of information to students on module choices and the process of choosing modules. This is particularly pressing in relation to optional module choices. JCDC students may be restricted in terms of module choices, partly by timetabling clashes, but departments should work to ensure that they do not have an unreasonably narrow range of options.
  • liaison with the Examinations Office concerning the summer exam timetable;
  • liaison with Exam Board secretaries about turnaround times for marking, format of marking grids, departmental exam conventions, the composition of aggregate marks (where necessary), delivery of marks to Exam Boards, entry of marks into the Electronic Mark Utility (EMU) and the return of marks to students.
  • co-ordination of assessed essay deadlines, at the beginning of each academic year, where at all possible, to ensure that students are not unduly burdened.
  • ensuring that staff and students are fully aware of issues relating to credit weightings and patterns of assessment.
  • briefing module co-ordinators to ensure awareness of the different pre-requisites and syllabuses taken by these students. Staff might sometimes need to be reminded that some students in a particular module are on JCDCs rather than on single honours degrees, and have not therefore taken the same prior modules and/or courses.
  • ensuring SSLC representation (see below) and briefing of SSLC academic convenors.
  • verifying that appropriate and continuous personal tutoring provision is made (with reference to the newly revised section of the Personal Tutor Guidelines).
  • liaison with the liaison officer(s) in the partner department(s) and with Heads of Department as appropriate.
  • acting as a departmental representative on the undergraduate studies committees/ teaching committees of partner departments where appropriate.
  • ensuring that chairs of Exam Boards invite external examiners to comment on the performance of JCDC students at final exam boards where appropriate.
  • ensuring that these students have equal access to opportunities for students (for example Erasmus exchanges).
  • checking departmental handbooks (or, where appropriate, the dedicated JCDC handbook) to ensure that they contain relevant, accurate and dedicated information for JCDC students.
  • ensuring that the JCDC has a separate, clear and accurate presence on the website of the home department, which is easily accessible from the websites of the partner department(s).
  • offering a separate induction to JCDC students, and ensuring that both the students and the personal tutors allocated to those students are present.
  • ensuring that JCDCs feature as a standing item on the agenda either of the departmental meeting or of the undergraduate teaching committee. This may include a termly report from the course director.
  • convening an annual meeting for the academic, administrative and clerical staff involved in the degree course, preferably with student input. This meeting should link to the annual course review process.
  • ensuring that JCDC students are included in the “home” department’s email and other circulation lists.
  • ensuring that JCDCs receive sufficient and appropriate representation at undergraduate Open Days.