Tarnished classics

June 1, 2001

Inspectors have delivered a stinging critique of Leeds University's classics department, warning that its traditional teaching methods are alienating students

.The Quality Assurance Agency narrowly approved the quality of the classics and ancient history courses, but it gave the department a poor score for teaching, learning and assessment.

A report on the 12 bachelors and six masters courses delivered to 355 students gives the department a below-average total score of 19 out of 24. The average score for all departments in the 2000-01 subject review round so far is 22.33.

The review awarded the department only a grade two out of four for its quality of teaching, learning and assessment, the lowest grade possible without triggering automatic failure for the whole department.

Lectures drew particular criticism. "Students feel, particularly on classical civilisation programmes, that teaching is not sufficiently interactive and that the traditional lecture format, in some cases, results in little contact between lecturer and student," the review report says. The QAA was also concerned about the emphasis on private study backed by "voluntary support".

Classics department head, Malcolm Heath, was unavailable for comment.

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