History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY2025 - Class and Culture in Modern England (2005)
Unit Coordinator: Dr Chris Hilliard
History 2025 had a great cohort of students in 2005, and I found teaching the course stimulating and a lot of fun. Reading the surveys, I was really pleased to see that a good number of the students liked the course too. Thanks for your generous and thoughtful comments.
Ninety-six percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement 'Overall I was satisfied with the quality of this unit of study'. The remaining four percent translates to two students. One filled in the 'disagree' bubble and wrote: 'The course is great, the staff is great, but after 3 years of studying history, I really believe that in a history subject so dense and quite complex, 2 hours' tutorial... is the minimum to get a clear overview and understanding of the subject.' The other student ticked 'neutral' and wrote some praise of the course but qualified it with the comment that 'the course was insufficiently structured and there were too many topics and readings'. I agree that the course wasn't as structured as well as it could have been, and that it tried to do too much. In part, I think, this was because HSTY 2025 was the first lecture course I'd given on my specialist field, modern British history, and my enthusiasm for the subject led me to try to cram too many topics that interest me into the semester. But it was also because I veered between offering a general survey of modern British history and a giving more selective introduction to cultural and social history. This is the major structural change I've made for the unit’s new incarnation in 2006 under the title 'Culture and Society in Modern Britain' ('Class and Culture in Modern England' was a title I inherited, and not one I would have chosen myself). I'll still cover political history, but in substantially less detail: the syllabus I've prepared for 2006 is very much a course in cultural and social history.
A number of the surveys (though far from all of them) said that the readings were too long, and during some tutorials I could see that this was the case, so I've pruned the required readings back for 2006.
One of the things I was really pleased with was the way a number of students said that the variety of the assessment tasks-document exercise, essay, and wide-ranging take-home exam-helped them develop their research and writing skills. As a result of this feedback I decided to keep the same assessment regime for 2006. (Marking the document exercise, though, I did feel that the assignment left students to their own devices and their own initiative a little too much for the first piece of work in a senior unit, and I'll modify that assignment to provide some more guidance.) A number of students expressed their appreciation for the 'clinic' session where students brought me drafts of their essays to discuss. That too is something I’ll try to do again in 2006, though the higher enrolments this year (119 as at the beginning of February; there were about 75 students in the unit in 2005) may make this difficult.