Student Council Q&A about dissertation changes with Joe Kerr and Jane Pavitt

In light of the recent meetings at the college reviewing Critical and Historical Studies, the programme in the School of Humanities that manages the process of dissertation tutorials, writing, submission and marking alongside an autumn lecture series for each School, we invited Joe Kerr (Head of Critical and Historical Studies) and Jane Pavitt (Dean of the School of Humanities) to stop by the Student Council and speak to the reps about what the dissertation review entails, and what their plans are.

As the CHS review is still ongoing, we would like to stress that the following presented plans are speculative, having not yet been approved by the college.

Also please note that while these minutes are detailed, they have not been recorded or transcripted verbatim.

 

Present

Joe Kerr

Jane Pavitt

Reps from School of Design, Architecture, Humanities, Communication, Material, and Fine Arts

SU Co-Presidents Ritz Wu & Mila Vorlicek

 

Introduction

 

Jane Pavitt –

To give you the background which you all will know of, or all but one of you will have experienced – the school of Humanities is responsible for the only cross college assessment that students do – which is the CHS dissertation and programme of seminars and tutorials. It is rather unique that we are the providers of this element of all degrees, which is managed by Joe, and sits alongside as a department in Humanities. It has a unique character and has been part of the various reviews, like every department.

We decided last year that there are a number of factors that meant that we wanted to invite a mid-review period. This RCA for 40 years, and in its current structure and validation for over 12 years, and it has been through isn’t a formal validation that we’re going through at the moment, but we are trying to take the temperature given changing issues in the college – for example, the expansion and range of MA programmes that we offer. When CHS started, it was dealing with a much more limited range of programmes – and we now have more MA programmes and a new school structure. We obviously have a greater number of students from more backgrounds, so the internationalisation of the college brings all types of things. It changes the culture of CHS in a way. CHS therefore has to be responsive. It has always been something that from the outside seems quite prescribed – all students would find this to be quite an open process – but we thought it would be timely to have a look at it. So we have a review committee chaired by Naren, and it has representation from the schools, the SU, IT, student support, the library, and us. We are having full meetings – and Joe and I have invited this review, and to present what we think would be a good proposal. Which is why Mila has invited us to speak about it – obviously the SU comes from the viewpoint of representing the students, and Joe is going to talk about what we are thinking, but ultimately it is up to the committee to decide whether it is appropriate or not.

 

Joe Kerr –

The system that you have all been through was designed for different times and different circumstances. When we first validated the dissertation it had 365 people doing it and now it has 900. So the review is coming out of logistical issues more than anything else. We get a lot of feedback and we realise some elements are well received, and some are not, so we thought it was time to review it. We wanted to look at the core of our work and make it viable for the future of RCA. But to do so we had to create proposals for different scenarios that will come.

The two questions that might interest you are when it will change, and what elements. You will have noticed that the RCA is changing quite rapidly – before our eyes – so how do we manage this process? And the dissertation is a long process, as you know. You will have started thinking about it in Christmas, then you get the results late in the second year. We are now teaching first and second years simultaneously for parts of the year, which doesn’t work for us. And the reality is that during the summer, though you need to reflect on ideas, some of you are doing work placements, simply working, or spending time away. So the experience is not even handed now for a lot of people – some people have a lot of time to work on it, and some don’t.

 

 

Proposal for a new CHS

 

Joe Kerr –

So our proposal is to contain the dissertation within the first year. That means starting earlier and finishing earlier, and therefore the summer is available to you to work or have a holiday. And then for the second year – one of the interesting bits of feedback that we had was that many students were interested to have their dissertation feedback earlier in the second year – you would turn in before the beginning of summer and receive your result when you return. Now, the reason we concentrated on that is though CHS does a lot of different things in the first and second term, the core of what we do is the dissertation. For us, that’s what we want to hold onto and sustain properly. The other issue is that our curriculum is rigid – we plan out the terms strictly, and we think it would be better to relax that. So in the autumn term, we might do something similar with the lectures – but to have different teaching formats, such as seminars and workshops, which are related to the dissertation, at a reasonable pace. So, when you come back after Christmas, you are up and running for the second and third terms with a dissertation tutor. We think what needs to change are the lectures – though it is lovely to have this expertise – it is very difficult to organise and takes place during a difficult time of year for you to engage with. The academic offer will not be diluted – but our main interest is to do the dissertation properly. Right now, the college is in the process of formally following the Bologna Agreement – which follows a credit system. In this, the dissertation has been given an important role – so the whole of your MA will be worth 240 credits, and the dissertation will be worth 16%. So we had to make sure the dissertation fitted that, and we wanted to make it very clear how the dissertation is 1/6 of your MA programme. The 1-1 tutorials continue, and that allows a great deal of flexibility between different schools, to have extensive lecture series or not, and this allows us to tailor according to needs.

 

Jane Pavitt –

Something that the committee has raised is what the best mode of submission is – and we call it a dissertation as a relatively long form of writing, in which the choice of subject is up to the student. The process of tutorial is something that can deliver those things. But that is a pretty open ended definition – it differs somewhat from the dissertation of History of Design students, which is tailored to a particular, longer major project designed to demonstrate their learning outcomes. But in CHS, the frame is an open thing. Nevertheless, they asked what is the most adequate form of submission to fulfil 40 credits – but is open to debate at the moment if there are more open forms we would accept. It’s still formal – but not a reflective piece of creative writing for example. Other colleges have experimented with report writing- but we are committed to the written format as a critical element, but that is again open to discussion. Depending on the educational background and their prior training students might engage with that more easily or more difficultly. But we would be really open to your views and take that back to the meetings as they progress.

 

Discussion

 

Design Interactions Year 2 – Are the CHS reviews ongoing?

 

Jane – There have been 2 so far.

 

Architecture Year 2 – I think that CHS started with a different RCA – with a different structure and size – but now there seems to be a certain lack of specificity throughout the teaching. It seems odd to have a research student cohort, and up to 200 MA students, and a CHS that doesn’t engage with the diversity within the programme. It doesn’t seem to be a question of changing CHS, but of whether CHS is the best way to teach critical thinking. To have, for example, a specialised theoretical teaching course within our programme, which is separate from a CHS dissertation process, doesn’t seem up to standard. Furthermore, as the dissertation was the most rigorous part of the CHS programme – to be able to focus over the summer was really valuable, and for it to run alongside our studio work would be detrimental because it would never take priority. It would seem the reason for doing the review that we are told is because of staffing availability – whereas the real problem seems to be unmanageable student numbers. But why not just expand CHS across the board? It is quite high quality at the moment, so it would be a shame. Also, in relation to the lecture series – the autumn term lectures seemed quite unfocused and more like a broad brushstroke of ideas – but the symposiums were great because they had great criticality.

 

Jane – We could take that point about the timing of the dissertation, and your point about resource is well made. I don’t want to mislead you in saying we are clearly looking at July and September at this point in terms of time working on the dissertation, but I can describe what our staffing issues are. Tutors are available through to the end of July, but start their year at the end of August. We employ a great deal of visiting lecturers for this, and those people are committed to other contracts in the summer often. So if we do promise a summer tutorial option, we need to make sure all students have equal access. So we need to look at that and be realistic. But we also understand that there are many students out of reach for the summer, and asking or even expecting students to complete a dissertation when you aren’t formally registered at the college over the summer seems illegitimate, really. And it is one of the views that have been expressed. But ones like yours have been as well.

 

 

Joe – I can state in my case as a dissertation tutor, a student was quite angry at me for not being there in August, but I’m also staff and I have annual leave. We want to make sure there’s no period of working on the dissertation in which students don’t have access to tutors. And also, specific to Architecture, you’re not supposed to be doing design work until the end of May. So we thought we would have that period when second years and staff are busy with the show, that we would spend that time with you in your first year.

 

Jane – it’s about finding that balance, because as we know, all students are managing a much more complex set of responsibilities nowadays like travelling, working, etc. to support their studies. We are trying to find what would give the greatest number of students the fairest go.

 

Architecture Year 2 – One side is about fairness, but it is also about quality. I would say that to change it like this would create a massive detriment to quality.

 

Design Interactions Year 2 – It is the same with us, where last year there were a lot of clashing schedules. The summer was a really valuable time to focus. If even my summer isn’t available for example, I could have done it shortly before the summer. You’re talking about flexibility, but by changing it to this time, you’d be making the system even more constrained.

 

Jane – However, the clashing workloads is clearly an issue – and something that we need to address. I take your point about the quality – but hopefully we would find a way around to achieving the same quality.  We don’t want to see it damaged, but see it managed over the course of a 2-year MA, with the key points of supervision balanced with other studio work. But another question we might ask is how the dissertation process informs your progression as a student overall – we don’t want to just talk about resource and timing, but also its intellectual place within the MA.

 

Painting Year 2 – I have a few arguments to this. The way our year has worked so far is that we will lose studio time in about a week this academic term, then have to move our studios back in August, and the dissertation fits very neatly in between, when we don’t have access to studio work. For Fine Arts students, it would be very difficult to expect students to give up their studio time for CHS. It’s a huge job to move everything, as we’ve seen happen during the WIP show. Maybe this is something for the SU to write down because the lack of studio time needs to be supplemented. But another point I would have regarding the dissertation is – don’t you also need a few months of tutorial to figure out what your subject is? Otherwise people would just write about what they were interested in right when they got here.

 

Visual Communication Year 2 – For us, we get electives the first term, and those are really tailored toward our interests, so the tutorial process would clash with that as a priority. Furthermore, you sign up for a two-year MA and many of us already expect to be working two years straight.

 

Interior Design Year 2 – And since you’re mentioning a lot of students who go home overseas, we all also come from different backgrounds; it is very difficult for many people to go right into academic writing. Not only linguistically, but for people coming from a different field. So you would need critical engagement before you start thinking and deciding. The summer is really a great moment to start the process.

 

Visual Communication Year 2 – The time over the summer also allows people to make that decision of whether to focus on it or not during the summer. If I had to hand it in during a month, for example, it would be a dissertation of poor quality – I’ve got too much studio work to do at the moment.

 

Joe – Well, none of this will work unless the studio offer is made more explicit by programmes. It’s supposed to be functioning in tandem already – but as we see in many areas, programmes aren’t really freeing up their schedule for CHS. It would be indeed a disaster to over program in this way. This is why it’s important that this is a college-wide review. The decision needs to come from the college as a whole, including you. The stricter adherence to the Bologna system has been decided – and so that means your first year will be counted as 2/3 studio, and 1/3 dissertation, and your second year will be purely studio work. If this is what the college wants, timing will have to reflect that. Also, as a part of the Bologna system you have to account for all the hours of study that it takes to get your credits, and you can’t just say ‘in the summer’ – you must be able to show in your timetable where those hours are. We cannot have a timetable that does not reflect the reality. And it’s interesting that here we are getting the feedback that the summer is such an important time, when we also get other feedback from others that students don’t get that time. The other point is – in relation to Architecture’s previous question – what’s the point of CHS? Why not teach theory locally? But we don’t want to encourage any division between studio practice and critical thinking – this is ludicrous. The best dissertations incorporate both, and so we want to encourage both. We do think it’s important that we are independent – and that CHS is a different mode of study and a requirement for you to walk away from your studio. We don’t want it to focus on studio work, but be a break from that high-pressured environment.

 

Design Interactions Year 2 – But that is kind of the opposite of what you used as an example – I had a great time doing my dissertation, and had a Skype call from my tutor from Brasil – it was priceless and great to have that time to think about ideas and allow clarity to happen. Otherwise it is just confusion. So for example, why don’t you instead of just one example, also mention the people who think the experience was great.

 

Joe – Obviously the decision involves all of you, but actually the proposal to move it forward is only for writing to start at the beginning of January, rather than the beginning of February.

 

 

Architecture Year 2 – But it’s a huge difference to hand it in at the beginning of July, rather than end of September. It seems like with a lot of issues at the RCA – where decisions are made without consulting the students – we are telling you that losing the summertime would impact negatively on quality of work. Also, the idea that the teaching hours are not accounted for – it might seem to be the use of a lot of resource, but actually students only get one, maybe two tutorials over the summer.

 

Jane – Its not that we are trying to diminish the CHS process, we are just trying to establish parity. For example, if only a few students get two tutorials rather than one, we have to change the system.

 

Architecture Year 2 – But such inequity is the very nature of examination. Students are all examined in the same way, and that is fair – but the number of tutorials only reflects research.

 

Jane – We aren’t talking about points of examination, but where we put concentrated points of supervision.

 

Architecture Year 2 – if the Bologna system specifies that we need a certain amount of contact time, and in your proposal this contact time is accounted for at the first term, but why does that affect hand in time? We just need the summer to write.

 

Jane – So ok, we can take this feedback as agreement between you all that the summer is necessary to write. So in cases where somebody is for reasons of employment, etc. placed at a distance to their research material, what happens then?

 

Architecture Year 2 – But isn’t finding a way to research material the nature of research? If I am researching something in China but the information is in London, I would still need to make an effort to find it, just like if I were researching in London and the information is in China.

 

Visual Communication Year 2 – I think also that the research is the responsibility of the student.

 

Architecture Year 2 – We find there are very little positive points to making this proposal work.

Joe – Ok, in relation to that issue is that the programme suffering the most from this, is a small programme that has no access to English language material over term time. The rest of you have identified that you are unsatisfied, but only with the first third of your CHS experience. It’s true not everyone enjoys the lecture series – it is not necessarily fit for purpose. Our original question is how do we make this better – to make the lecture series more relevant to dissertation. We weren’t thinking to save money over the summer – but to the contrary, to spend more resource in preparation for the dissertation. What if we focused on what we did with the lectures to supporting you, using new teaching modes? By the way, the autumn term in that case will probably allow much more activity – visits, talks, workshops, and we can do that better because we won’t be simultaneously marking the 2nd years. We just want to focus everything toward the activity, and those are all improvements.

 

Painting Year 2 – But what works with the lecture series that though it isn’t focused, there is inevitably the process of absorbing information without making decisions, and the messy soup of information is in fact important at the end.

 

Joe – It is important to realise that the system that we suggest won’t work for everyone. Some might say an unfocused lecture series is better; some might say that it is. But they can’t work together.

 

Painting Year 2 – Actually, maybe it can. Another issue of focus is that some say that the dissertation it has to be a part of your practice, some say it doesn’t. But can’t the question be, giving people the guidance to do so?

 

Joe – We do produce a CHS guidance handbook though, and it says that the subject is entirely up to the student.

 

Design Interactions Year 2 – I also had this as feedback in my tutorial. My subject was economics, but I was asked to relate it back to art.

 

Jane – Back to the point that there doesn’t seem to be consultation – we wanted to make it clear that there is, and we will take back your point that the view that there isn’t time before the summer. But that leads onto the question of where your dissertation stands in relation to your programme. Joe’s point is that it isn’t prescriptive – the dissertation is a thinking space away from your studio. But I imagine that it is part of a tutor’s discussion in a student wrestling with an idea, to suggest thinking about their practice. But it isn’t an imperative.

 

Joe – But the idea that your dissertation needs to relate back to your practice absolutely is very limiting to the idea of the MA.

 

Visual Communication Year 2 – Yes, it would be good to make it clear. And it would be great to keep the summer to have as time for reflection of your studio practice.

 

Design Interactions Year 2 – Yes, because if everything condenses in the first year, you might write something too immediately that is just about your practice.

 

Architecture Year 2 – My only other one anecdotal argument is that my flatmates at different architecture schools both did it last year, but during the year. And they were hugely jealous, because when they saw the fact that the ability to produce a piece of work, compared to theirs, leads to something written up in the weekend in a rush.

 

Joe – The college is asking us to reconsider the system, which the adherence to the Bologna system and timetable changes allows us to do – but we should consider that the dissertation that wins the President’s Medal, which is from Oxford Brookes, does more dissertation over the course of the year, but with the timetable cleared out and time devoted properly to the dissertation.

 

Jane – I’d like to ask the question – since you’ve all been through the experience – that any change within a programme is difficult to take on-board if you’ve just done it, as opposed to coming to a new system (and its the same for us, because we’ve always taught it this way) but where is it best to pack it in over the 2 years, and what time do we have to assess it? I’m interested to hear about the intellectual place that the dissertation has.

 

SU – I can vouch for Fashion and Textiles, for whom CHS and the dissertation is extremely important because it is where a great amount of theoretical knowledge comes from, in contrast to offers from the rest of their programme. So maybe it is about working with the intellectual needs of every discipline.

 

Design Interactions Year 2 – For us, I felt that the autumn lecture series was very general and simplistic. What about the possibility of swapping or going to other sessions?

 

Architecture Year 2 – I agree that it would be good to all of them – and it would be great if AcrossRCA’s lecture series was in the first rather than second term, it would be incredible. I think what you’ve said about making it more tailored to each School, I think you could do that and also have it start earlier. All that you’ve said sounds very good, except submitting it at the end of the first year because we have so much pressure on studio work at that time.

 

Joe – So in the diagram that Mila has projected above – the top is what the college wants us to do. We need to come up with a completely different proposal for how Bologna is reflected in RCA.

 

Architecture Year 2 – That diagram does reflect our workload unfortunately. What isn’t reflected is the attention given to CHS over the summer. So if you take out the summer, you have less time to focus on both your projects, and between studio work and CHS, something will suffer.

 

Jane – But what the college is saying is that it is an unfair offer to certain students over the summer.

 

Architecture Year 2 – But unfortunately, the argument is that to level out the playing field, the quality would get worse.

 

Joe – With all due respect, I disagree.

 

Architecture Year 2 – You were saying that Architecture never has any time to devote to CHS and leave it until the summer. But at the same time, year on year they excel.

 

Jane – I’d zoom it out further – the architectural education in Britain allows you a better critical preparation before you enter MA level. The playing field is a tough argument. You don’t have to focus on the equal playing field for all students because you only focus on your experience – but we need to justify that it is a college-wide function.

 

Architecture Year 2 – If it is the case that certain students come in far more equipped, then perhaps there needs to be a far more devolved approach. Otherwise you’re going to always have a school of Architecture that are frustrated that the level is inadequate.

 

Joe – Perhaps that is the case for you three, but we’ve also gotten feedback from your coursemates that it is at the end of their intellectual knowledge.

 

Interior Design Year 2- But for us, for example, coming from a background which isn’t as theoretical and critical, means we might need even more time to catch up and study. We can always take books out and research over the summer. But I disagree that CHS should be separated from studio practice.

 

Architecture Year 2 – But it seems that the same approach for bigger and bigger schools gets harder and harder. My argument is for a different approach to research – to devolve it back to the schools and have each programme internally arrange for the theoretical teaching.

 

Jane – But that would be restrictive in distilling teaching into six distinct disciplines, architecture for architects, design for designers, for example.

Joe – Every year we fight a battle with a different programme to try to define what students’ dissertation is, and we fight for the students’ ability to define themselves. We do know that in the devolved model, you as students wouldn’t have that independence to write something distinct from your practice. That’s how it works elsewhere where there is an integrated system.

 

Architecture Year 2 – It is hard to say that this is really the case.

 

Joe – All the concerns about this model, which would diminish academic value, relate to when the RCA went from 3 to a 2 year MA, which was outrageous at the time. But do you think that it is so much worse now than it was?

 

Jane – I’d always hoped CHS would remain outside of the experience of every student being deeply embedded in their college experience.

 

Architecture Year 2 – Though, if that is the approach, I would suggest a more radical approach to being taken to the extreme within different disciplines, rather than this kind of ‘Architecture – light’ to accommodate the needs of all. I’d be more interested in going deeply into other disciplines, rather than a watered down approach. At the moment it seems in between. Yes, it is tailored at the moment to be about architecture. But why not do that more intensively?

 

Jane – Perhaps some more modules regarding the skills and tools needed to write the dissertation would serve that function better.

 

Architecture Year 2 – But then again that idea of teaching writing also looks a lot like teaching nothing.

 

Jane – That’s not what I am saying.

 

Joe – No, the idea is to guide students in finding ideas useful for their dissertation, not to teach writing.

 

Architecture Year 2 – Yes, I think actually that would be a great idea to analyse and explain what we absorb. But it has to be content driven, not technique driven, and outside of people’s current understandings.

 

SU – Jane, as a member of the SMT (Senior Management Team of the College) as a Dean, I would ask you to justify why the Bologna system is better?

 

Joe – One of the fundamental reasons of doing so is that we have to adhere to EU law.

 

Jane – For us, the process is twofold – this year, your transcript will give the equivalent of a credit framework to the teaching that you got. There are plenty of reasons – we are frequently asked by exiting students upon completion of first year, for something to take with them. We are also asked often for those studying abroad for credits taken. Before the RCA had always been a holistic 2 year MA process. We don’t contest that, but we’d like to be compliant. We’ve taken the credit framework, applied it to how our programmes are currently run, and Academic Standards want us to give a very broad view of completed projects. That’s what we are doing at the moment – applying the framework to the MA structure. We also want to make sure we are compatible to different European academic systems.

 

Joe – A lot of the idea of Bologna is to be able to join a different system. There would be a ethical problem here, for example, if we had decided the dissertation was over the summer because you get the credits by the summer, but based on what you are suggesting, you don’t hand it in until the end of the summer.

 

Jane – A really good way to think about it when you’re presenting changes to MA programmes, is to think if you had none of it what you would do from scratch. In our ideal world, we would have the staff, students, and contact time right up until the end. But that’s not going to happen, and it has got to go somewhere. We have to balance, however, the point of our quality with the point of resource. Or what about the dissertation as a part of the second year?

Joe – We want to ask, if you don’t get the mark until the end, how will it inform your second year project?

 

Design Interactions Year 2 – I disagree that I would need the mark to inform my final project. The most valuable thing for me was not the marking but the process.

 

Joe – But some students are unconfident in their abilities until they get the marking, as Mila said in one meeting.

 

Design Interactions Year 2 – But that does not reflect my experience at all.

 

SU – First off, I didn’t say that. But my question is, is the dissertation intrinsically linked to studio practice or not?

 

Architecture Year 2 – You need the time to process your research – that is the most valuable.

 

Joe – But what the Rector is proposing is to cut out the degree show completely. How does the dissertation function in relation to that? And I want to be clear about the idea of ‘cramming.’ if you get the entire span of September until July to think about your dissertation, how is that cramming?

 

Design Interactions Year 2 – We mean cramming in relation to the studio work.

 

Joe – What if on the 1st of June you were released from studio work?

 

Architecture Year 2 – My problem is even if you were able to hand in a month later, you still don’t have enough time to meaningfully process and write through your ideas.

 

Joe – But what if you started earlier?

 

Interior Design Year 2 – You’d still need time to get used to the beginning of your MA experience in general.

 

Architecture Year 2 – It does take a lot of time for things to start up at the beginning of the year.

At the end of the year, there is also a huge tradition of first years helping the second years with their final project, which is valuable and also feeds into your dissertation thinking.

 

Joe – We are currently considering at the college whether that sort of apprenticeship is appropriate. I can understand the value of it – but also the fact is that the degree show will change since there are more and more of you. Logistically, it all has to change. Its a different RCA – so when it changes, this has to be a holistic series of modifications.

 

Design Interactions Year 2 – But it doesnt lead to a better RCA – and the idea of scrapping the final show as well goes hand in hand with this. Why have first years helping second years, if there is no show?

 

Architecture Year 2 – Is there the understanding that this would lead to a better RCA, or just a bigger one with less value?

 

Joe – All we want to do, is to create a dissertation system that still works for everyone without compromising the quality, while I try to manage my staff’s workload. To allow that to be true, 950 students where there used to be 365 cannot stay as it is.

 

Jane – Its true that MA students nowadays have much pressures than before, so the idea of adding time to the dissertation would definitely be helpful. But if we simply agreed for more time for everything you did it would seem that it would improve everything, but it’s not true. For example, in History of Design we are currently reducing the word limit of the final project, because longer isn’t better. It is about quality rather than quantity.

 

Architecture Year 2 – We agree that a really well focused month of writing would be great.

Joe – Thank you for that. The majority of the dissertations I mark, I wish the proofreading would be better, and that we had more involvement. But the idea that you could have more intensive care would be very beneficial – for example, to say you need to fix something, or see student support, or dyslexia support. If I can see students before they hand in, it improves the quality. In essence, we are thinking of replacing July and August when yes, you don’t have studio space. But what about referred students who do have to work on their studio projects over the summer? We would swap the six weeks of reflection, with an entire term where your entire experience would be thinking of CHS.

 

Architecture Year 2 – But the slight problem is this is the term before you even have anything to think about at all.

 

Joe – Or, how about this – a student who is struggling with dyslexia – it’s a big ask for them to come up with something from day 1, but what triggers someone to get proper support is the dissertation. Library and Student Support don’t get people seeking help until the middle of their programme, and instead they’d get it for three terms, properly supervised.

 

Painting Year 2 – For example, there are some courses that are so unstructured that you don’t have anything to do for entire terms. But the brief of writing about something might prompt you to get started earlier.

Jane – CHS is the only cross college function, and having to compromise with all the different studio provisions of every programme would be a huge task – we need to make a general agreement and then trust that it won’t be broken on either side. We have to make sure that negotiation is right. We take away from this that we won’t agree on the summer yet, but we need to make sure everything is up front more, in the past we have said that you get inducted first and then we get involved later, but if you could speak to your programmes and encourage them to fill the student survey out, there is a section on the dissertation. We do collate and audit the programme according to this.

 

Joe – The survey is where we got the feedback about the autumn lectures that started this process in the first place.

 

Jane – We’ve had two meetings so far discussing this.

 

Joe – Another feedback that we’ve gotten is that students really enjoy our CHS tutor, but that they’re very tired and overworked – which is true. We also want to space out the timetable for our own staff. The dissertation needs its own term. We think it would be better to focus our attention in this way.

 

The key issues and questions we seem to have arrived upon in this discussion are –

 

  • How does timing impact upon the quality of the dissertation?
  • What is the dynamic of the CHS workload to the studio workload?
  • How do we create parity of student experience?
  • How does the dissertation differ in importance and impact between different Schools/programmes?
  • How will the dissertation function in an RCA without a final show?

 

Thanks very much to Joe Kerr and Jane Pavitt for stopping by to discuss with the students their feedback on the proposed changes to the dissertation system.

 

Please send through any comments to su-president@rca.ac.uk or su-vice-president@rca.ac.uk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *