Staff Student Minutes 11 November 2005

Minutes of History Staff-Student Committee Meeting
Friday 11th November 2005, 9.30am – 10-30am.
Dr. Donald Spaeth, Dr. Stephen Marritt, Professor Lynn Abrams, Dr.
Maud Bracke (Committee Convenor), Dr. Sam Maddra, Dr. Lionel K.J.
Glassey, Dr. Davit Broun, Donald Tait (Subject Librarian), Euan
McCowan, Fiona Martin, Brenda Casey, Joeseph Waterfield, Henk von
Klaveren (Chair), Alistair MacLellan (Secretary), Marion Stewart, Keeley
Norton, James Schneider.
Ally Redpath, Julie Rieter, Simon Reid, Heather Fleming, Gary Li.
Martin McGregor, Matthew Strickland (convenor 2AM), Simon Ball
(convenor honours)
Election to Student Chair
Henk von Klaveren (History 2EM) volunteered to be Student Chair.
Minutes of Last Meeting
The minutes of the last meeting were read by the Chair and agreed to be
accurate by those present.
DS stated that, as a matter arising at the last meeting, the number of
Honours exam questions had been reduced from ten to seven. He is aware
that this is against the wishes of members of the History Staff/Student
New Proposals for Honours Modules
The Making of the Union of 1707 Special Subject (to run 2006-2007).
Committee agreed that this course sounded potentially interesting.
Sex and Marriage in the Middle Ages (to run 2006-2007). Committee had
no comment.
The American Constitution: Issues and Institutions, 1787 to the Present
(to run 2006-2007). LA said that the course title sounded dull and did not
reflect the wide range of issues addressed in the course content.
Suggested a more relevant title to broaden its appeal. BC pointed out that
students who wished to study American history would note the word
‘American’ in any course title.
War and Identity in the British Atlantic World 1754-1815 (to run 20052006). AM noted that it was good to see the introduction of a course
addressing this particular period.
HK questioned how each course was introduced to cater for ‘an identified
student demand’. How was this identified? DS replied that this was a
standard phrase to use when introducing a new course. HK then asked if
the introduction of these modules would be at the expense of others. DS
explained that many courses on offer in fact reflected the convenor’s
research interests, for example Dr. Matthew Strickland’s Rebellion and
Treason Honours module sees him embarking on a major research project
that will see him writing two books. As staff research interests change
over time, so will the modules they offer. LA added that modules on offer
depended also on whether or not certain staff were on leave. MB
suggested that perhaps courses on offer should fit into a specific teaching
Survey of Courses
Level 1A – On the whole students were happy. It was pointed out that
currently tutorials take place fortnightly, and that it was felt it would be
better if this was instead weekly. SM replied that this was not up to him
as convenor. HK noted that this issue had been raised last year. DS said
that weekly tutorials would be nice but it was a case of timetabling – 350
students study 1A and they are split into 12 person tutorial groups,
meaning weekly tutorials would be extremely difficult to organise. LA
suggested study workshops. DS expanded by suggesting that study
groups could be encouraged by the Department. HK mentioned Peer
Assisted Learning Schemes (PAL) already running in other departments.
LA raised the point that while some students might be keen to have more
frequent tutorials, attendance at lectures and even tutorials was low. A lot
of time was spent chasing absentees that otherwise could be better spent
on those willing to attend lectures and tutorials. It was then queried
whether or not there could be more choice in tutorials. SM pointed out
that, as in the past, budgets for books affected this.
Level 1C - It was noted that students would prefer to be made aware of
the exam format in the course document. This could be made possible by
collective e-mailing. SM said he would e-mail DB the format for this.
Issue of lecture notes being made available online was raised. DB replied
that this was work in progress. Lecture notes were currently unavailable
off-campus due to security etc. SM and LA suggested that a greater
awareness of the new History Moodle site would provide for student
interest, instead of extra tutorials etc.
Level 2AM – Two points were raised. The first was that powerpoint
problems had been quite frequent in lectures, and secondly there was far
too much information on the powerpoint presentations when they did
work. SM admitted that there had been problems with powerpoint, but
asked if students had noticed a change recently. Students admitted that
problems seemed to have been resolved recently. HK mentioned that it
often depended on the lecturer. Some seemed quite comfortable using
powerpoint whereas others were less so. SM went on to explain that the
powerpoint presentations may seem to have too much information
because the lecturers have a lot of information to put across. Some staff
were lecturing on this course for the first time and so needed time to
adjust their lectures accordingly.
Level 2EM – The issue was raised that one particular student with
dyslexia needs lecture outlines before the lectures so that she can follow
the lecture. She had approached certain lecturers but they had refused her
request. In her e-mail to the course representative she made it clear that
she hoped this issue could be resolved at the Committee meeting, being
as she did not wish to take it further. LA asked whether or not the student
could not tape the lectures. HK replied that it was not that simple. The
student needed an outline to facilitate her understanding of the lecture as
a whole. DS mentioned that certain staff do not have ‘set’ lecture notes,
which would mean providing a lecture outline would be difficult. EM
mentioned that, as a dyslexic himself, he felt that this issue was extremely
important and should be addressed fully. HK agreed and said that the
Department should be more accommodating in these matters. LKJG said
that he hoped that the student in question would contact him. HK said that
she had e-mailed him at the beginning of the semester. LKJG said he
would look at the issue and hoped that the student would come and see
him about her concerns. He went on to say that putting lecture notes on
the web would be difficult. For example, lectures previously taught by
Dr. Thomas Munck were now being taught in a different format and
would change when he returned. LA highlighted the fact that Special
Needs to dot communicate effectively with the Department. It seemed
that Special Needs informed their students on what support they were
entitled to but these entitlements were not made explicit to the
Department. DS said that the Special Needs Service gave each
department a pink slip to identify a Special Needs student. These slips
were kept in student files however, and were not readily available to
course convenors. It was felt that the Special Needs Service should be
more proactive it contacting the Department.
Junior Honours – AM stated that no issues had been brought to his
attention by Joint Honours students. On the whole he had the impression
that there was general contentment among Junior Honours students.
Senior Honours – MS said that the Dissertation Workshops had been a
great help.
Re-Calibration of Honours Modules
DS explained how it was proposed to change Honours modules from
being worth 15 credits to 20 credits, with at least 5 hours of seminars. The
value of the dissertation would be reduced slightly, and this would be
reflected with a slightly lower word count. Re-calibration would mean
that Single Honours students would have their courses reduced from 9 to
7. Single Honours students would only be allowed to take 2 late modern
modules in their Junior Honours year, and similarly Joint Honours
students would only be permitted to take one. The re-calibration would
mean it would be difficult for students to take outside courses worth 15
credits being as this would lead to them not having enough credits. It was
mentioned that the Departments of Archaeology, History and Celtic are
working together to provide 20 credit courses however. DS went on to
suggest that more weighting should be given to Senior Honours courses,
being as students by that point in their university career would have a
clearer idea of what was expected of them. HK asked of the reduction in
course requirement would lead to less modules being offered. DS replied
that it perhaps would, but only slightly. Currently approximately 40
modules are offered at Honours level and it was not likely to change
significantly. DS made it clear that this re-calibration was going to affect
current Level One and Two students and asked for feedback. On the
whole students were in favour of the changes.
Any Other Business
DT asked if students and staff had noticed the availability of e-books at
the library. The response was that while e-journals were found to be
useful, hardcopies of books were preferred to e-books for ease of use. DT
went on to ask if renovation of Level 8 was appreciated. Committee
replied that it was. FM asked about when information on Level 2 MED
would be available. SM replied that it would be available after Christmas.
The issue of whether or not any more American Special Subject trips
were to take place. DS replied that it was possible, it depended on the
success of funding applications.
The meeting concluded at 10.30 am.