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.
- 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).
The panel included three senior colleagues from outside the University:
- from the Department of Media Arts, Royal Holloway University of London (chair of the panel)
- from the Department of English Language and Literature, University College London
- from the School of Creative Arts, Film and Media, University of Portsmouth
The panel also included a senior professor from Warwick:
- from Warwick Business School
The Department provided the written evidence base for the review, including:
- Self Evaluation Document
- Report(s) from the 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 Film with Television Studies
- BA Film and Literature (taught jointly with the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies)
- MA Film and Television Studies
- MA by Research Film and Television Studies
- PhD Film and Television 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 over three days:
- meeting with undergraduate students
- meeting with taught and research postgraduate students
- meetings with academic and administrative staff to discuss curriculum, quality and standards, learning resources, pastoral support and other areas
The review panel was very impressed by the work of the department. The department maintains high standards of teaching and learning and possesses a strong and distinctive research culture. The department is set to remain one of the leading Film and Television departments in the UK.
The department was consistently demonstrating good practice in terms of:
- the academic rigour of its programmes and its determination to maintain a particular focus on close textual analysis coupled with teaching involving extensive use of the excellent film projection facilities in the department
- excellent technical provision - the panel felt that the level of technical provision (including 16mm, 35mm and a range of digital media) was probably unique in the UK
- the excellent support provided to the department by the Library and the department's link librarian
- the welcoming and supportive culture, which students particularly commended. It was apparent to the review panel that students felt part of the academic community in the department
- the postgraduate research group, which provides an effective forum in which research students can develop their ideas in a multi-disiplinary environment
- the excellent support and development offered to postgraduate research students engaged in teaching
- teaching being delivered by academic staff who were leaders in their field
- the administrative support for students, teaching and learning, in particular the department secretary
- the responsiveness of the department to student feedback which is used as a tool to enhance the quality of provision and to improve the student experience
- the rigorous implementation of course review and monitoring systems and the highly effective Student-Staff Liaison Committee system
There were a small number of recommendations for the department to consider as it continues to develop and enhance its courses:
- the department should improve communication with the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies concerning the jointly-taught course in Film and Literature. The English department has appointed a tutor to work closely with the Department of Film and Television Studies and students on this degree
- the department should improve feedback to undergraduate students on their performance in exams. This is now underway
- the department should seek to enhance its use of e-learning tools by building on best practice within the department and the University. Staff from the department regularly attend e-learning showcase events and the Faculty Teaching and Learning Forum
The report of this review was considered by the following committees:
- University Steering Committee, May 2008
- AQSC, June 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