Category: Student Views

Feedback Feedback

As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the courses that we offer and to show you how much we value your input, we are today publishing feedback from course convenors on the scores and comments that you provided through SOLE. The information covers courses that were completed in the Autumn term and are available as PDFs on Blackboard in the Second Yr Biology portal and in the Final Year portal.

Each course convenor has seen all the information gathered about their courses gathered through SOLE and composed a response, highlighting the things that students most appreciated and addressing features of the course that may have been less successful (and setting out changes that will be put in place to improve the course next year).


The first of the year’s SOLE surveys opens tomorrow, December 3rd, and I hope that as many of you as possible will participate. We find the feedback from students very useful.

The survey will be open for final year courses that have run this term and some Biology courses. There will be Spring surveys for courses that are not yet complete.

As DUGS I get to see the SOLE results for the whole department and, with the help of course convenors and lecturers, use this information to identify things that we are doing well and areas where we may need to think about improvements.

Guest Post: A Year in Industry, by Lee Sewell

Rather than spending three straight years slogging away at my BSc, I decided to trade in the pen for the pipette and take the opportunity to spend a year in industry. This was a 12-month placement at British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Hopefully this blog-post will make you consider a research-based placement year.

I get the feeling that many undergraduates question the idea of taking a year out altogether; after all you still only get a BSc for what is an extra year of your life. Well, simply put, I think you’d be making a mistake if you didn’t jump on the opportunity to explore research in the life sciences.

What I did on my Year in Industry/Research Placement

A guest post from Rui Gao sharing her impressions from a year out working at the Institute for Cancer Research

As part of my degree, I undertook a placement year between my second and final years. I thoroughly enjoyed my placement experience and highly recommend other students who are thinking seriously about pursuing postgraduate studies to do the same. My year at the Institute of Cancer Research allowed me to gain countless experiences and insights not necessarily attainable by just attending lectures and practicals.

As someone who had always been considering postgraduate studies, the year in industry/research programme was an excellent fit for me because in many ways, the placement was a “test run” which allowed me to determine if a postgraduate degree was the right choice for me.

What is a university degree for?

The education journalist Peter Wilby had a comment piece in the Guardian last week, in which he raised some interesting questions about the value of educational qualifications. The article resonated with me because it touched on an issue that I have become more and more aware of since assuming the role of Director of Undergraduate Studies: the meaning of a university degree.

Wilby starts from what is probably a widely accepted position:

“Education is regarded as an unmitigated good, of benefit to society, the economy and the individual. More means better, we think. In many respects, that is true: if we are a more tolerant, more inclusive society than we were 50 years ago, that is largely because most of us are better educated.”

But despite improvements in education he notes that many professions have been affected by a sort of qualification inflation, by which the minimum entry requirements have risen inexorably and, in some cases, without proper justification.

The value of student dissatisfaction?

Mary Beard, a Professor of Classics at Cambridge University, is a well-known TV historian and currently also has a regular spot presenting ‘A Point of View‘ on BBC Radio 4.

In this week’s instalment, she ponders the survey culture that has swept the UK university system, asking if student satisfaction should be the most important driver of the educational system, even when students are paying £9000 a year.

Have a listen (or read the text) and see what you think.

NSS Enterprise Needed from Final Year Students

Through the National Student Survey, our final year students have the opportunity now to give their views on their entire experience of being a student at Imperial College and we would very much like to encourage them to do so.

The organisation of the NSS means that unless at least 50% our our students complete the survey, the results from our department will not be included in the published report and so will be disregarded. So it’s crucial that we at least cross that threshold. But even more importantly, we would very much like to have the views of every single student in the final year.

Guest Post: Coursework

Guest post by Laurence de Lussy Kubisa (Biochemistry, Yr 2):

Whilst many of you may know me as a fun-loving free spirit – I am, occasionally, forced to reign in my frivolities and concentrate on more serious matters. The issue of coursework in Life Sciences has been one such intrusive subject. Crucially, I feel that it has proved a relatively unsatisfactory supplement to my course and yet holds so much potential for Life Sciences degrees.

It is absolutely essential for both training as a scientist and development of life skills to be able to communicate ideas and solve problems. These are skills to be primarily developed through the coursework assignments.