Review of Department of Classics The Academic Quality Assurance Programme 2005-2006

An Coiste Feabhais Acadúil
The Committee on Academic Quality Improvement
The Academic Quality Assurance Programme 2005-2006
Report to Údarás na hOllscoile
Review of
Department of Classics
Review Group Visit
Follow Up Meeting
September 2005 to December 2005
1st – 3rd February, 2006
2nd May 2006
This Report was compiled for members of Údarás na hOllscoile, NUI Galway and its
committees as a readily accessible but comprehensive source of information on the above
review, its context and its outcomes.
Quality Office, March 2007
Report to Údarás – Review of Department of Classics 2005–2006
1. Overview of Department
1.1 Aims and Objectives
• To Develop knowledge of and promote interest in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome
• To make Classics accessible and relevant to today’s students through innovative programmes
and high quality teaching
• To pursue excellence and originality in research in the Classical disciplines
• To nurture and train the next generation of Classical scholars
• To make NUI Galway a centre of excellence for the study of Classics in the West of Ireland
• To continue to increase numbers of undergraduate and taught postgraduate students
• To improve administration and teaching performance
• To increase numbers of research postgraduates in line with University and Faculty policy
• To enhance the Department’s reputation nationally and internationally
• Appoint a full-time Administrative Assistant
• Increase number of full-time academic staff to five
1.2 Developments since Last Review in 1999-2000
• Full Time Equivalent student numbers increased by 40%
• All of the undergraduate language programmes (Greek and Latin) thoroughly overhauled
o More realistic targets set for students to achieve within the three year programme
• BA in Classical Civilisation extensively revised
o 1st year: Material changed and tutorials made compulsory
o 2nd year: Three new courses introduced; one course radically revised
o 3rd year: Emphasis significantly shifted in some courses
• All taught postgraduate programmes restructured
o One-year MA in Classical Civilisation introduced in 03/04
o Language MA programmes revised
• Developments made in the area of research degrees (M.Litt./Ph.D.)
o Postgraduate Induction Programme developed
o Special research seminars organised
• Partly as a result of the Quality Review process in 1999-2000, the University supported the
upgrading of the temporary lectureship to a permanent position in 2002
1.3 Background
The Department underwent significant staff changes in Summer 2003 with the appointment of a
new Established Professor (since departed) and a permanent Classical archaeologist. This
occasioned a thoroughgoing review of the Department’s activities, particularly with regard to
undergraduate teaching and postgraduate courses, resulting in the developments outlined above.
In a small department, curriculum development is an ongoing process. It is likely, however, that
the appointment of a new Professor will result in a revisiting of the Department’s practices and
Report to Údarás – Review of Department of Classics 2005–2006
future plans. A further impetus to change will be the retirements of Prof. Madden in 2007 and
Prof. Arkins in 2010. These events pose exciting challenges to the Department going into the
future. One area that the Department needs to pay particular attention to in its forward planning
is the recruitment of high-quality Ph.D. students, in line with University policy.
The Department has brought forward the process of developing a Strategic Plan for the next five
years. The Strategic Plan will be broadly in tune with the aims and objectives, previously
outlined. This initiative has been very much provoked by the Quality Review.
1.4 Student Numbers
The total number of Full Time Equivalent students in the Department of Classics was 93 in the
year 2004/2005, representing an increase of 36.4% in the five years since 1999-2000.
1.5 Staff to Student Ratios
In 2004-2005, the number of Full Time Equivalent academic staff in the Department of Classics
was 4.4, giving a student:staff ratio of 21 in year ending 2005 (this ratio was 16 in 1999-2000).
For the same academic year, across the Faculty of Arts, the average student:staff ratio was 21.
1.6 Accommodation and Facilities
The core facilities of the Department are located in Tower 2 of the Arts Science Building.
2. Review Group Report Overview and Recommendations
The Review Team consisted of: Professor Christopher J Smith, School of Classics, University of St Andrews
(Chair); Professor Andrew Smith, Department of Classics, University College Dublin; Professor Tadhg Foley,
Department of English, NUI Galway; and Dr Kathryn Moore, Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, NUI
Galway, acting as Rapporteur.
2.1 Summary and Main Recommendations from Report
The activities of the Department are appreciated and admired, to an extraordinary degree, by the
Review Team, all of the students it met and the representatives of the wider University
community including senior management. The Department is entering an exciting phase of
potential development and expansion. A large number of recommendations have been proposed
by the Review Team, focussing on strategic planning for staffing, research, and curriculum
development. We are confident that both the Department and the University are committed to
defining and achieving a set of realistic goals.
Main Recommendations
a) A strategic staffing plan be developed, with reference to research and resources, fully
supported by the Faculty and University
b) The Department be more explicit in seeing the Department centrally in the context of the
Faculty and its strategic plan
c) The management structure be reviewed in terms of sustainability
d) Information for students be systematised and streamlined
e) The University should consider provision of a fulltime administrator
f) There should be a review of space for postgraduates, particularly tutors
Report to Údarás – Review of Department of Classics 2005–2006
g) Broken or inadequate equipment and furniture should be replaced
h) There should be consultation with CELT and the Quality Office to investigate the viability
of a digitised image database and pilot fieldtrips
i) The issue of credit for language teaching should be formalised
j) Students should be made more formally aware of the transferable skills they obtain by
completing a degree in Classics, and their consequent employability
k) The Department should work towards provision of optional courses and specialisation in the
undergraduate programme
l) The Department should continue to develop graduate and postgraduate skills, particularly
language skills
m) There should be greater liaison with service units in general, in particular CELT and the
n) There is a need to engage in strategic research planning involving external contributions and
advice, as well as consultation with the Research Office
3. Action Plans
Follow up Meeting
9.30 a.m., Tuesday 2nd May 2006, Boardroom QA 114
Present: Professor J Browne – Registrar, Professor J Gosling – Director of Quality (Chair),Dr Kate Moore –
Review Group Rapporteur, Professor Tadhg Foley – Review Group Cognate, Professor Andrew Smith – Reviewer,
Professor J Marshall – Dean of Arts, Dr Edward Herring – Acting Head of Department, Professor Nicholas Canny
– Vice-President for Research, Dr Iain MacLaren – Director of CELT, Professor John Madden, Professor Brian
Arkins, Dr Matt Peacock, Ms Maureen Linnane (in attendance).
3.1 Action Plan for the Department of Classics
a) The Department will develop a new Strategic Plan with a view to having it complete by
December 2006. The priorities of the Planning process will include the identification of key
research priorities, as well as staffing requirements (beyond the basic core of expert staff) for
any initiatives identified as worth pursuing.
b) The Department will continue to be involved in discussions concerning future academic
structures in the Arts Faculty, which they believe will result in a closer and more collaborative
relationship between Classics and its cognate disciplines.
c) With the new Established Professor in place, the Department will be in a position to review its
management and organisational procedures, with a more equitable and sustainable distribution
of tasks being a principal goal.
d) The Department has begun the drafting of a brochure/web page section ‘Information for
Students of Classics’ with a view to having a complete and comprehensive version in place by
September 2007.
e) The Department will hold bi-annual, regular meetings between academic staff and the tutors (to
discuss teaching issues).
f) In the light of the University plan initiative to increase the numbers of research postgraduates,
the Department will review and evaluate the space required and available for its postgraduate
students and tutors, and report to the Dean and Registrar.
Report to Údarás – Review of Department of Classics 2005–2006
g) The Department is committed to developing further measures to support the acquisition by
postgraduate students in the Department, the Faculty and from further afield, of skills related to
ancient Greek and to Latin.
h) The Department will nominate a liaison person and invite the Buildings Office to assess its
needs with respect to interior design, layout, fittings and furniture, as well as increased space as
it expands its research programme.
i) The Department will continue to seek systematically student feedback via its Student/Staff
Consultative Committee and via questionnaires and, from the Academic year 2006–07, will
ensure that brief reports arising from this feedback will be considered as regular items at
Departmental meetings.
j) The Department will act to ensure that Classics attracts an increasing number of students to its
courses and programmes, by:
Providing supports to Second Level teachers of relevant subjects,
Considering how it can assist in raising the profile of Classics within the existing BA
iii) Reviewing thoroughly the Classical Civilisation offerings as the expertise profile of
staff develops with new appointments,
Promoting (in cooperation with the Careers Service) awareness of the valuable
transferable skills that students gain by studying Classical civilisation, Latin and
Identifying themes and producing documentation that can be circulated to potential
students, or used in advertising,
Considering the provision of optional courses and specialisations in the
undergraduate programme that may depend on ‘self-directed learning’ and project
vii) Taking all opportunities to expand language teaching to undergraduates and to
research postgraduates in other discipline areas.
k) The Department will introduce more mixed approaches to the assessment of student learning in
some modules starting in September 2007.
l) The Department, together with the Library and CELT, will work to establish greater use of a
wider range of new technologies that are suitable for application to teaching of, and research in,
Classics. This will include the digitisation of images already held, the creation of a local image
database and the greater use of publicly accessible external data bases.
m) The Department will explore the viability of the greater use of fieldtrips as a method to enhance
student learning and motivation. Optional trips may be the most productive way forward, given
timetable constraints and the success of the recent initiative taken by the students’ Classics
Society and the Department. The Quality Office will help to the degree that resources will
n) The Department has nominated a Library liaison person and will:
Conduct a comprehensive review of hard copy, electronic and on-line library
resources related to its teaching and research;
Act to make use of Library services to improve library skills among its students.
o) The Department will engage actively with the Research Office on issues of funding and
collaboration (both intra- and inter-institutional). Members of the Department already have
their profiles lodged on the University’s Research Support System.
p) The Department will continue to seek the appointment of a fulltime administrator, as
recommended in the previous Review in 2000 and again by this Review Team in 2006.
Report to Údarás – Review of Department of Classics 2005–2006
q) The Department will use the Student/Staff Consultative Committee as one mechanism by which
to inform students about the outcomes of the quality review and of the outcomes of its planning
exercises going forward.
3.2 Action Plan for University Management
a) The Registrar recognises teaching and research in Classical Civilisation, Latin and Greek as
essential components of a modern university’s mission and recognises that the continued
achievement of the high standards required will depend on new initiatives and closer
cooperation, as well as on the maintenance (as retirements occur) of an adequate core
complement of versatile staff with suitable specialities.
b) The Registrar will consider a proposal from the Department for greater specialist provision
for language teaching. This proposal will be developed in conjunction with the new
Departmental Strategic Plan.
c) The Registrar’s Office will ensure that the Department receives full credit for the teaching
of the Classical languages to research students pursuing degrees in other disciplines.
d) The Director of Quality will, if needed, work with the Department as it seeks to have its
physical facilities up-graded and enlarged.
e) The Research Office will accept invitations from the Department to provide information and
support as it explores, identifies and pursues its research priorities.
Approved by: Acting Head of Department, Dr E Herring, 26th May 2006
Approved by: Dean of Arts, Professor J Marshall, 6th June 2006
Approved by: Registrar, Professor J Browne, 8th June 2006
Approved by: Vice President for Research, Professor N Canny, 26th June 2006
Approved by: Director of CELT, Dr I MacLaren, 19th June 2006
Finalised: 26th June 2006, Professor Jim Gosling, Director of Quality