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Your Feedback and How We Responded

Feedback and responses for Biological and Biomedical Sciences

The Course Management Committee for NST Part II Biological and Biomedical Sciences is the Biological Sciences Committee (BSC,  Comments and feedback on the course can be given to the student representative of the BSC for discussion by that Committee, or fed to the relevant Course Organiser for the appropriate Departmental representative to bring to the BSC.

Some examples of student feedback and subsequent discussions/actions are listed below.


In Lent 2018, BBS students were asked to provide feedback about the course through an online questionnaire on Moodle. A Course Review Working Group discussed the BBS course over the Lent and Easter terms, and made some recommendations to the Biological Sciences Committee (BSC). The BSC, as Course Management Committee for BBS, approved a number of recommendations.

Below is a list of changes brought forward in response to feedback received over the academic year 2017-18.

You have asked us to...We have done the following:
Improve information about the course in general and the Major/Minor Subjects content
  • The BBS webpages, hosted on the Faculty of Biology website, were relaunched in Lent 2018 to improve navigation to information.
Improve information on Major/Minor subjects compatibility
  • The Student Liaison Administrator created a table of incompatibilities looking into details at the timetable compatibilities between each Major Subject modules and each Minor Subjects. This table is available on the BBS webpages
Improve communication with Course Organisers, in particular about the need for a “home” department for BBS students
  • The Student Liaison Administrator met with a large number of Course Organisers to discuss the BBS course and highlighted the fact that BBS students should be able to participate in the same departmental activities as Single Subject students.
Improve information to Directors of Studies
  • The Student Liaison Administrator attended two meeting of the Biology NST DoS and one meeting of the pre-clinical MVST DoS, to present BBS and take questions. She distributed the course booklet at these events.
  • It is hoped these presentations will be repeated yearly in advance of the Part II Subjects Fair. Each College will also be sent the BBS course booklet for distribution to DoS.
Improve the offer of Minor Subjects in science subjects
  • The department of Zoology has opened a further 4 modules as BBS Minor Subjects from 2018-19.
  • The department of Biochemistry has opened 2 modules as BBS Minor Subjects from 2018-19.
  • Discussions to open further BBS Minor Subjects in this theme are ongoing.
Improve the offer of Minor Subjects in clinical medicine subjects
  • The department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience is proposing a new BBS Minor in “Surgical and Radiological Anatomy” to start in 2019-20 if approved by relevant Committees.
  • Discussions to open further BBS Minor Subjects in this theme are ongoing.
Improve the offer of Minor Subjects in clinical veterinary medicine subjects
  • Discussions to open BBS Minor Subjects in this theme are ongoing.
Improve the offer of Minor Subjects in other subjects
  • The Institute of Continuing Education is proposing a new BBS Minor in “Science Communication” to start in 2019-20 if approved by relevant Committees.
  • Discussions to open further BBS Minor Subjects in this theme are ongoing.
Offer Major Subjects in Biological Anthropology and History and Philosophy of Science.
  • The Department of Biological Anthropology is proposing a new Major Subject in “Human Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour” to start in 2019-20 if approved by relevant Committees.
  • Discussions to open a new Major Subject in “History and Philosophy of Science” are ongoing
Organise cohort-wide events
  • Discussions are ongoing to organise two cohort-wide events per year for BBS students.


Previous years





NSS report – feedback suggested:

  • BBS students had lower confidence than other Part II students.
  • BBS students were not clear how their feedback had been acted upon.

The BSC wondered if lower levels of confidence were due to BBS students not being required to do as many talks and seminars as single subject students. Departmental Teaching Heads and Course Organisers were asked to take appropriate action to ensure greater equivalence between BBS and single subject students.

With respect to workload, it was noted that a University-wide consultation was being carried out by the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education.  It was agreed that a webpage be set up on the BBS website detailing how previous feedback had been acted upon.

In line with previous years, the BSC was concerned that NSS reports had a small number of responses, despite efforts made to encourage student participation.  In addition, it was never clear to which part of the course (first, second or third year) the feedback given applied to.


Student representative at BSC meeting – suggested that students be allowed to start work on their dissertations in the long vacation

Discussed at the BSC meeting 25 June 2015.  The BSC did not feel that adopting this proposal would be fair, as students who were enrolled late on the course would be disadvantaged compared to those who were allocated a place straight after the Part II allocations process.


NSS report – no feedback was out of line with that given for the University as a whole

The BSC was concerned about the small sample size the NSS feedback represented, as well as the fact the feedback covered all three years of undergraduate education.  It was therefore difficult to ascertain the feedback that specifically related to the BBS course.


Student requested a new minor subject from the Faculty of Music be added

BSC liaised with the Faculty of Music to ensure that the requested subject was added to the list of available minor subjects for the 2011-12 academic year.


Informal feedback from students that the weighting of BBS modules in exams was different to that of single-subject students taking the same modules.

(BSC minutes 15 May 2008): It would be difficult to ensure parity in the examination load for BBS students, as there was wide variation in this across the single subjects which provide the major option papers. Course organisers had previously been asked to use their best endeavours to minimise the differences between the marks allocated to the main written papers shared by BBS students. However, it was recognised that there would never be complete parity. The BSC endorsed its previous view that BBS students should be marked alongside single subject students sitting the same papers and that the weighting for the two cohorts should be as close as possible. Individual courses could address this issue as they saw fit, and issue form and conduct notices accordingly.