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Celebrating teaching excellence

Congratulations to the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

29 November 2022
Team awarded on stage
Professor Andy Roberts UG Dean for College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, recognising the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Professor Andrew Roberts, Dean of Undergraduate Studies, College of Physical Sciences and Engineering celebrates transformative change in our School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The school was awarded/recognised for transformational changes at our Learning and Teaching Celebration on 16 November 2022. Professor Roberts outlines the reasons for this recognition:

Celebrating and recognising excellence

I would like to recognise the transformational changes made by the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences to both the school and their degree programmes.

The changes were initially a response to a growing demand in the sector, particularly for geography programmes. It was also a response the university’s transformation agenda, with the school asked to deliver pedagogic improvements to its Undergraduate programmes and deliver them in a more efficient and cost-effective way.

It soon became apparent that this requirement was an opportunity for the school to undertake a major reform of the learning and teaching within all degree programmes in the school.

The school’s response was not to tweak its existing programmes, but to start with a blank sheet and to build their programmes afresh – including the establishment of the new degree programmes.

Benefits of the changes:

  • this allowed the school to move away from a patchwork of 10-credit modules that had evolved over many years to a series of progressive, multi-contributor 20 credit modules providing a broader range of learning approaches, making connections across multiple subjects
  • the assessment load has significantly reduced, both in numbers of items, duration and word limits – the fieldwork is now more progressive in terms of skills taught
  • greater emphasis is placed on the incorporation of professional and employability skills
  • overall workload for both staff and students has reduced considerably, creating additional benefits in terms of wellbeing
  • the resultant team enables staff to balance their research and teaching, but also to ensure that research-informed teaching is available throughout the degree programmes.

Last year the first cohort on the new undergraduate programmes graduated, and the changes have been well-received by their students. Indeed, this year saw an substantial improvement in the school’s NSS scores.

Thank you

Whilst this was a whole school endeavour – I should give particular thanks to:

  • Ian Hall, former head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences for his vision and direction
  • Iain McDonald, Rhoda Ballinger and Marc Alban Millet for working with academic staff, driving the curriculum review across the school
  • Sally Walsh, former school education manager for ensuring a smooth submission and approval process
  • Jenny Pike, and Director of Learning and Teaching Iain McDonald and Rhoda Ballinger for driving the implementation of the review through the pandemic