College of Humanities

Assessment and Feedback

Students would benefit from an improvement in the way that assessment and feedback is given. Marking criteria should be made clearer to both students and staff with more clarification over what is expected from coursework and exams.[1] Drama students in particular would appreciate more clarification on what is expected of them in practical modules.[2]

Group Work

To minimise the discrepancy between pre-arrival expectations of group-work opportunities and the realities of working with challenging groups, Humanities should consider reviewing the way group work is managed and assessed.[3]

Humanities students would benefit from more support in group work to ensure that there is fairness in the marking, and for marks to be allocated in proportion with the level of contribution. A student-led review should be conducted into group work to investigate introducing self-assessment as part of the assessment.[4] Drama students have appreciated the introduction of an online blog element to allow students to record their contribution in the ‘Staging the Text’ module, and the potential of introducing this in more modules should be explored.[5]

Outstanding Career Opportunities

Humanities students view it as highly important that their departments continue to forge partnerships with well-regarded graduate employers and industrial partners. The experience of Exeter Alumni is seen as extremely useful, and it would be appreciated if efforts could be made to incentivise alumni to participate in employability events.[6] Students view placements with industrial experience or a work-based component as being increasingly important and support for such schemes should continue to grow.[7] Where possible, students should have a high level of input into the employers that visit the University, either through Change Agents Projects or through consultation with the Career Zone.[8]

It is a high priority to Humanities students that a wide range of careers are advertised to them, including specific discipline careers as well as the broader careers that are available.[9] Modern Languages students would appreciate being made aware of a range of careers opportunities.[10] It should be emphasised to Humanities students that a range of careers are open to them through the transferable skills that they develop in their courses.[11]

Student to Staff Ratios

Humanities students place contact hours and time with staff as a high priority. Theology appears to be the perfect advertisement for this, with students feeling a fully integrated part of their subject and staff making themselves regularly accessible for consultation, whilst Classics and Ancient History students consistently report on how grateful they are to staff who go the extra mile to improve their academic experience.[12]

Despite improvements in student to staff ratios, continuing to improve them is still seen as a high priority by Humanities students. All classes should have some small group teaching (1 staff per 12 students) by the 2016/17 academic year.[13] Modern Languages see it as a high priority for language oral classes to have stricter caps on numbers to ensure that all students have adequate speaking time.[14] There should be better communication to students concerning absence and providing a point of contact for students affected.[15]

Module Choice

When module availability changes the departments should communicate this to students as quickly and clearly as possible.[16] There should be more efforts made to ensure that students are not negatively affected when academics are on research leave. Departments should ensure that module choice is not affected too severely by research leave.[17]

Study Abroad

As the University plans to increase the numbers of students studying abroad, support and organisation will need to increase to match this. Students would appreciate more support with completing country-specific administrative documents.[18] There should be an increased focus on buddy schemes, mentoring, and other support networks. Students would appreciate an emphasis on wellbeing throughout the course of their year abroad, with services such as Exeter Voice better publicised.[19]


Students see it as a high priority that they have sufficient library resources.[20] As student numbers continue to grow the resources available should grow and students should continue to have the opportunity to inform the choice of books purchased through the Library Champions scheme. Humanities students would benefit from better online resources in the form of e-resources on ELE and digital books or journals. Inter-library loans should be cheaper and more widely publicised to raise awareness of the resources available. [21] 

[1] History SSLC, March 2015, 4.

[2] Drama SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

[3] Humanities Vision 2013/14.

[4] History SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

[5] Drama SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

[6] Humanities Vision 2013/14; History SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

[7] Humanities Vision 2013/14.

[8] History SSLC, March 2015, 9; English SSLC, November 2014, 9.

[9] Drama SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

[10] Modern Languages SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

[11] Employability Executive minutes Term 1 2015/16

[12] A fact which is clearly demonstrated from both Teaching Awards and NSS results. Theology received the highest 2015 NSS results; Classics and Ancient History received the second highest number of Teaching Awards nominations, with English receiving the third highest.

[13] Drama SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16; History SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16. 

[14] Modern Languages SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

[15] History SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

[16] Drama SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

[17] Modern Languages SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

[18] Modern Languages SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

[19] Modern Languages SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16; Drama SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16; History SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16. 

[20] This is evident in the 2015 NSS results, where resources was one of the common weaker areas across Humanities. In response to ‘the library resources and services are good enough for my needs’ the results dropped compared to last year for BA Ancient History, BA Classics, BA Drama, BA History, BA Modern Languages. Learning Resources were one of the weakest areas for Theology, History and Politics, History, English, Classics, and Ancient History.

[21] History SSLC feedback Term 1 2015/16.

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