The quality of teaching and learning in university departments was assessed by the government in their Teaching Quality Assessment exercise, where departments were rated from Unsatisfactory to Excellent. A department that is graded Excellent is liable to take its teaching seriously – giving time and resources to students to enable them to reach their full potential. Consider the style of teaching. Does the department offer practical work as well as lectures? Does it have a tutorial system? Tutorials give students the opportunity to work in small groups, and to get to know individual members of staff well – providing better support and pastoral care.
You can also check out what students themselves think about the quality of teaching and learning. The new National Student Survey reports student satisfaction with teaching and learning for universities as a whole and for different subject areas within institutions. Have a look for yourself at: www.unistats.com
The government in their Research Assessment Exercise assesses the quality of research. This grades university departments from 1 to 5 (5 being the highest). The higher the quality of the research the more likely you are to be taught by world-class researchers with a passion for their subject. A department’s performance in the Teaching Quality Assessment exercise and the Research Assessment Exercise are listed in university league tables.