The Schools of SPS (Social and Political Sciences) and PEP (Politics, Economics and Philosophy) have agreed to start a new scheme in which joint honours students in these departments will be given contacts to go to in the subjects that they do not have a supervisor in.
This contact is to give students the ability to ask questions related to specific departments, such as what modules or assessment topics to pick.
Natural Sciences are running the scheme too and came up with the idea for it independently. It has been pioneered by Roddy Vann, head of the department. This need for change came from the concerns of joint honours students regarding the amount of supervisor contact provided to them. This issue was a main feature in the election manifesto of Thomas Ron, Academic Officer. Ron told Nouse: “As a former Joint Honours student I know full well how difficult supervision can be for us. This system should provide students both the one-to-one pastoral support they rely on from their supervisor and the variety of advice they need from the multiple aspects of their course.”
In a survey conducted by Nouse earlier in the year nearly half the number of students doing joint honours described themselves as being ‘very satisfied’ with their supervisor compared to single honours students. Joseph Simnett, PEP student welcomes the changes by saying: “It’s good, rather than chasing up individual professors who may teach you a module but aren’t qualified to handle general affairs, you can have a representative in each discipline. This way I won’t keep being referred between departments whenever I see my supervisor.”
87 per cent of joint honours students said that they supported the idea of an academic supervisor with knowledge of all of the subjects that they study, or several points of contact within each discipline that they do on their course.
The movement has been formally passed by the Board of Studies for SPS. Matt Hodges, course rep for SPS, commented: “Although the (SPS) department considered changing the supervisor scheme, we felt it was less a problem with the set up now, and more a problem of students not having the correct information on who they should contact. So we went with increased visibility over any particular change.”
It is hoped that the new changes will help joint honours student feel more reassured that they have a contact in each of their subjects thus giving them the ability to ask specific, subject – related questions and avoiding department referals.