Biological Sciences

Monitoring, evaluation and internal review

The School of Biological Sciences actively monitors and evaluates courses and degree programmes.

This process involves:

  • Evaluation of courses by Course Organisers and Course Committees
  • Peer observation of teaching
  • Innovation in teaching
  • Induction courses for new staff

Evaluation of courses

For every undergraduate and postgraduate course, the Course Organiser is required to complete a Quality Assurance form (QUAD) annually and ensure a student evaluation exercise has been undertaken. This is normally either through a course questionnaire or a WebCT survey. The QUAD forms are held in the Biology Teaching organisation Teaching Offices along with results from student evaluations, questionnaire responses and surveys. In addition, for all courses, feed-back is obtained from staff/student meetings, which is further discussed by course teams at course review meetings.

Analysis of courses

The School Quality Assurance (QA) Officer uses information from QUAD forms, student course evaluations and external examiner reports to identify best practice or the need for change or investment in a course by considering:

  • Pass/fail rates
  • Summarised student evaluations
  • Support and resourcing issues

The QA Officer reports to the Head of School, the SBS Learning and Teaching Committee, and to the College of Science and Engineering through the submission of the School of Biological Science Annual QA report in December.

Programme reviews

In support of the Teaching Programme Review (TPR) quality assurance process, we ask each teaching area of the School to internally review their degree programmes on a regular basis to ensure standards and strategic needs. The most recent Teaching Programme Review (TPR) and Postgraduate Programme Review (PPR) for Biological Sciences and University-wide reviews can be found through the following links:

Peer observation of teaching

Participation in peer observation of teaching is a normal expectation for all teaching staff in the University. Peer observation of teaching for staff in the School of Biology is organised by the QA officer and administered by the BTO.

Staff are paired and reciprocally observe their colleague deliver material such as a lecture, tutorial or discussion seminar. The findings are then discussed confidentially between observer and lecturer.

The process is designed to be constructive and developmental for the observer as well as the observed.

The focus is on teaching in its widest sense in all aspects that can contribute to effective learning.

University guidelines on peer observation of teaching are available from the Quality Unit website.

Teaching awards

Quality teaching is recognised by the Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) awards.

The Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) recognises and rewards academics who provide quality teaching to their students.

The impact of these awards, past winners and a nomination form is available from the EUSA website

Staff induction

The Institute for Academic Development (IAD) provides an induction course on teaching for new members of academic staff. This is part of the training towards the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice. The IAD also run a number of other courses and events that train staff in terms of student support, acting as Director of Studies and linking to events run by external Higher Education organisations. Locally staff training includes an induction course on safety matters and the provision of a Health and Safety Information pack.