Natural Sciences SSLC minutes

Natural Sciences SSLC minutes
Meeting Place: 3S 0.04
24 October, 2013
12:15 – 14:05
Dr Paul Mitchell (Director of Studies)
Cath Haines (Student Experience Representative)
Linda Humphries (Subject Librarian; deputised for Karina Bradshaw)
Helena Coker (MSci Final Year)
Victoria Swann (MSci Final Year)
Kate Barnby (BSc Final Year)
Rupert Banks (BSc Final Year)
Liz Hierons (MSci/BSc Year 2)
Emma Cahuzac (MSci/BSc Year 2)
Maria Ekundayo (MSci/ BSc Year 1)
Tom Hudson (MSci/ Bsc Year 1)
1. Register of Attendance
2. Apologies of absence
Karina Bradshaw (Subject Librarian)
Rachel Myers (MSci Penultimate Year)
Amy Gravestock (MSci Penultimate Year)
3. Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference developed last year were discussed and the committee agreed they were fit
for purpose.
4. SSLC Officers
The committee discussed the positions of Natural Sciences SSLC officers. Kate Barnby (Final Year
BSc) volunteered to act as Chair of the committee, with Vicky Swann (MSci Final Year) as Vice-Chair,
while Liz Hierons (MSci/BSc 2nd Year) agreed to act as SSLC Secretary (N.B. Cath Haines (Student
Experience Officer) offered to record the minutes of the SSLC meetings in Liz’s absence should the
need arise).
5. Representation on Departmental SSLCs.
Last year a number of Academic Representatives sat on Departmental SSLCs in order to represent
the interests of Natural Sciences students at these departmental meetings. This was viewed by both
the Naturals Sciences programme and the core Departments that contribute to the Natural Sciences
programme as a very positive move. The following Academic Representatives agreed to attend
Departmental SSLC meetings to represent the views of Natural Sciences students (Academic
Representatives in parenthesis agreed to deputise for the first-named representative should the
need arise;
Biology SSLC
Chemistry SSLC
Pharmacy and Pharmacology SSLC
Physics SSLC
Tom Hudson
Helena Coker
Victoria Swann
Rupert Banks
(to be agreed)
(Maria Ekundayo)
(Emma Cahuzac)
(to be agreed)
6. Director of Studies
Dr Mitchell informed the committee that the Natural Sciences programmes underwent a Degree
Scheme Review (DSR) during the summer vacation. The DSR is an internal accreditation process that
provides a mechanism to assess the validity and suitability of the undergraduate taught
programmes. It also provides a method by which changes to existing programmes and the
management structure may be proposed. He was pleased to report that the DSR was very successful
Natural Sciences SSLC minutes
and the undergraduate programmes were deemed fit for purpose. Furthermore, the DSR panel
endorsed a number of significant changes to both the degree programmes and management
structure, an action plan for which is currently being developed by the DoS and Head of Programme,
Dr Steve Roser.
7. Student Experience (Cath Haines)
Cath described the plans that were agreed and costed for the development of the social space in the
entrance foyer of building 3 South. Unfortunately, due to various delays and changes outside the
control of the Natural Sciences programme and Department of Chemistry, these plans have had to
be moth-balled. Briefly, the monies that the faculty had agreed for this development have had to be
used elsewhere. Consequently the costs have to be agreed (again!) with the Science Faculty before
the work may commence. Cath will keep us updated on future developments.
8. Library matters (Linda Humphries)
Linda informed the committee that the computers on Levels 3, 4 & 5 of the library had been
replaced. Furthermore, problems associated with the wireless access throughout the library had
been resolved.
Kate Barnby raised the issue of the provision of literature searching tutorial/workshop sessions for
Natural Sciences students. It was agreed that individual sessions are required for all core subjects.
In year 1 (as early as possible in semester 1) sessions should concentrate on Manual Referencing –
these sessions were introduced for this current academic year, although timetabling such sessions
for each appropriate core subject group proved extremely difficult. In year 2 sessions should take
place in semester 2 and concentrate on Reference Management.
9. Key skills
It was requested that Natural Sciences students are allowed access to the various Key Skills
MOODLE/Web pages of the home Departments that contribute to the Natural Sciences programmes.
Links to other departments should be provided on the Natural Sciences Induction and Home
MOODLE pages. Other Departments will be approached to determine whether other departments
are in agreement with this proposal.
10. Standing Items
Final year
Concern was raised over the credit weighting of the Biology projects for BSc Natural Sciences
students (12 credits) compared to that for Biology home students (18 credits). It seems that Biology
project supervisors fail to differentiate between Natural Sciences and Biology students and expect
Natural Sciences students to complete the same workload as Biology students even though there is a
great difference in the credit weighting. Part of the problem may be that the Biology supervisors are
unaware of the difference in credit weighting even though such a difference is clearly outlined in the
respective unit descriptions. MSci students studying Biology projects also felt there was a clear lack
of communication from the project supervisors. The DoS agreed to liaise with the Biology Director of
Teaching (Dr Chris Todd) to resolve these issues.
MSci penultimate year
No issues raised.
Year 2
No issues raised.
Natural Sciences SSLC minutes
Year 1
Concern was raised over the suitability of the Foundation Maths unit. It was reported that the unit
content was very focused on Sports and Exercise Sciences with little obvious relation to the core
sciences within the Natural Sciences programme.
11. Any Other Business
Concern was raised over the lack of consistency in the marks awarded for MCQ papers between
different academic departments. In Pharmacy and Pharmacology the marks awarded are adjusted to
take account of possible guesswork. In contrast, the Biology department does not adjust MCQ
marks. Consequently, students taking Biology MCQ papers will score higher than students taking
Pharmacy and Pharmacology MCQ papers for the same proportion of questions answered correctly.
The DoS agreed to raise this issue with the Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching, Alan Hayes, for
possible discussion at a future Science FLT&QC meeting.
Most Departments organise a series of seminars throughout each academic year. However, Natural
Sciences students are not invited to attend these seminars as they generally are not included on
Departmental student email lists. The DoS agreed to liaise with the departmental DoSs/DoTs to see
if either Natural Sciences students could be added to the appropriate email lists or whether such
seminars could be publicised more widely within the Natural Sciences programme.
12. Date Of Next Meeting
To be agreed
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