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English & Comparative Literary Studies - UG & PG - 2007


The Strategic Departmental Review process

The key aspects of Strategic Departmental Review (SDR) are as follows:

  • The process will ensure that the full range of a Department’s present and planned future activities is reviewed once every five years.
  • The process will ensure that the standards and quality of teaching and learning of every course in the University are reviewed at least once in a five-year period.
  • The Review will normally be conducted over a three-day period.
  • External peers are involved at all stages of the process and will be in a majority on the Review Group.
  • Senior internal members, external to the Department, will also be involved on the Review Group.
  • Strategic Departmental Review involves direct engagement with the views of staff and students. At least one meeting with a representative group of undergraduate and postgraduate students will always form part of the review process.
  • While Strategic Departmental Review performs an important quality assurance function, it is also concerned with the enhancement and development of courses and the future academic vision and strategy of Departments. The process is intended to encourage a constructive and challenging dialogue between the Review Group and members of the Department.
  • Dependent research centres will form part of the review.
  • Strategic Departmental Review is overseen by the Steering Committee which initially considers the Review Report and determines what actions should be taken as a result of the recommendations and by whom.  Matters specific to the standards and quality of courses will normally be delegated to the quality assurance committee structure culminating in the Academic Quality and Standards Committee (AQSC) and matters relating to management and resources normally to the Academic Resourcing Committee (ARC).
  • A summary of the process and those outcomes relating specifically to courses will be published on the Teaching Quality website.
The main purpose of the Strategic Departmental Review process is to assure the quality of the full range of a Department’s activities and provide an opportunity for reflection and external advice as to how to enhance these activities and what new opportunities there may be to pursue. The objectives of Strategic Departmental Review which relate to courses are:
  • to assist Departments in the formulation of medium-term strategies for the development of research, teaching and resourcing and in the development of management capability to deliver those strategies;
  • to evaluate current strengths and weaknesses in the teaching, research and management activities of the Department with a view to identifying potential enhancements that can be made to the Department’s activities;
  • to promote the enhancement of the quality of education for students in the Department and to stimulate new initiatives in teaching;
  • to assure the University and other interested parties (e.g. applicants, students, employers) of the standards and quality of the courses under review.
  • to formulate recommendations to the Vice-Chancellor and the Department under review;
  • to assess progress in relation to the outcomes and recommendations of the Department’s previous review(s).

For logistical reasons the Strategic Departmental Review took place out during the vacation. A further day of meetings was scheduled, with a different panel, to ensure that the review process included meetings with students and gave full consideration to the Department's teaching activities.

Review Panel


The panels included four senior professors from outside the University:
  • from the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, University of Essex
  • from the School of English, University of Liverpool
  • from the Department of Film, Television and Theatre, University of Notre Dame
  • from the School of English, University of Liverpool (different from the above; for the supplementary review)

The panels also included two senior professors from Warwick:

  • from the Department of Italian, University of Warwick
  • from the Department of Philosophy, University of Warwick
  • from the Department of History, University of Warwick (supplementary review)
The secretary and assistant secretary for the review were drawn from the University's administrative staff.

The Department provided the written evidence base for the review, including:

  • Self Evaluation Document
  • Report from previous Periodic Review of Courses
  • External Examiners' reports and departmental responses
  • Annual Course Review reports
  • Student-Staff Liaison Committee minutes and reports
  • Results of module questionnaires and other student feedback
  • Student handbooks
  • Promotional literature including prospectus entry and brochures
  • A range of evidence relating to the other aspects of the department's work - research, organisation, financial position and management structures
Scope of review

The following courses were included in the scope of the review:

  • BA English Literature
  • BA English and American Literature
  • BA English and Creative Writing
  • BA English and Theatre Studies
  • MA English Literature
  • MA Writing
  • MA by Research, MPhil and PhD English and Comparative Literary Studies
Conduct of review

The review panel read the written evidence provided by the department and discussed issues with staff and student in a number of meetings:

  • meeting with eight undergraduate students
  • meeting with seven postgraduate students
  • a number of meetings with academic and administrative staff to discuss curriculum, quality and standards, learning resources, pastoral support and other areas

Key findings

The Review Group (December) confirmed the view of the earlier panel (July) in relation to the overall quality of the department and its national reputation. On the basis of the evidence examined, the Review Group (December) confirmed that:

  • the standards set by the department are appropriate to the level of the awards for the courses;
  • that standards set are being achieved by students completing the courses;
  • the quality of the student learning experience enables students to achieve the standards set for the courses;
  • the subject is being approprately maintained and developed through an explicit and effective relationship between research and teaching; and through effective procedures for the management and enhancement of standards and quality.

The department was consistently demonstrating good practice in terms of:

  • the overall quality of the students as evinced by excellent progression and achievement rates and their passion, commitment and enthusiasm for the work of the department
  • the quality and commitment of the teaching staff including PhD students involved in teaching
  • the incorporation of the work of the CAPITAL Centre into a wider set of modules
  • the coherence of the curriculum and the balance of core and option elements
There were a small number of recommendations for the department to consider as it continues to develop and enhance its courses:
  • the department should articulate more fully and confidently its policies and practices in a number of areas. The department agrees it can afford to be more forthright in stating policies and practices
  • the department should ensure that its procedures for anonymised feedback are followed. The department is ensuring this happens, and taking issues forward through its Admin Committee
  • the department should review its policy of requiring PhD students without a Warwick MA to take the Foundation Modules. The department's Graduate Studies Committee is considering this recommendation
  • the department should review liaison arrangements with the Library to ensure that available resources are fully appropriate for the requirements of the department's courses and modules. The English subject librarian attends postgraduate Student-Staff Liaison Committee meetings, and this may be extended to undergraduate SSLC meetings as well.
Further information

The report of this review was considered by the following committees:

  • University Steering Committee, October 2007, May 2008
  • AQSC, October 2007, May 2008
  • Other committees considered the aspects of the report which related to other aspects of the department's work - research, organisation, financial position and management structures