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History - UG & PG - 2008

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).
Review Panel


The panel included three senior colleagues from outside the University:
  • from the Department of History, University of California, Berkeley
  • from the Department of History, University of Oxford
  • from the Department of Hispanic and Latin American Studies, University of Nottingham

The panel also included two senior professors from Warwick:

  • from the Department of Economics, University of Warwick
  • from the School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies, University of Warwick
The secretary for the review was 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 History
  • BA History and Politics
  • BA History and Sociology
  • BA History and Culture (including "with year abroad" variants)
  • BA History, Literature and Culture of the Americas (formerly BA Comparative American Studies)
  • BA French and History (where History contributes; the course is managed by French Studies)
  • BA Historical Studies (where History contributes; the course is managed by the Centre for Lifelong Learning)
  • BA European Studies (where History contributes; the course is managed by the Centre for Lifelong Learning)
  • BA Health and Social Studies (where History contributes; the course is managed by the Centre for Lifelong Learning)
  • MA History
  • MA Culture, Class and Power: Europe since 1850
  • MA Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • MA Global History
  • MA Modern British History: Society and Culture, 1750 to the Present
  • MA Religious and Social History, 1500-1700
  • MA Society and Culture in the Cold War
  • MA The History of Race in the Americas
  • MA Humanities (Caribbean Studies)
  • MA by Research History
  • MPhil/PhD History
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 seventeen undergraduate students
  • meeting with eleven 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 panel concluded that:

  • the academic standards of the taught courses offered by the department were very high, and reflected learning outcomes and levels of achievement in national statements, and the department's emphasis on foreign language provision and study abroad opportunities was noted as a distinctive feature of the undergraduate programmes;
  • the department's courses remain current and valid, and are being developed to reflect the development of the discipline;
  • the Comparative American Studies programme,  BA History, Literature and Culture of the Americas is unique, currently ranked as the top programme in the UK for the study of the Americas, and its distinct identity and sense of community is valued by students;
  • there were high levels of achievement and progression from students with the department, and that it was impressed by the engagement and enthusiasm of the range of students it met;
  • the department puts in place a high-quality student learning environment to support students in maximising their potential;
  • there is a strong research culture and community in the department, which postgraduate students feel part of.

The review panel recommended that the department consider ways in which the Modern Records Centre could be better utilised in its research and teaching activities. The History department and the Modern Records Centre have taken up this suggestion with enthusiasm. The assistant archivist has constructed a bespoke image gallery for one module using MRC primary sources, and it is planned to extent this to other modules.

Further information

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

  • University Steering Committee, July 2008
  • AQSC, October 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