External Reviews

Review of Physics @ UCL

The Provost of UCL, Professor Malcolm Grant, instigated a series of reviews in 2009. In conclusion, the reviewing physics panel noted: 

"There is no question about the quality of the research being carried out in the Physics and Astronomy Department at UCL. In numerous areas, the research is undoubtedly world-leading. We were asked to comment on the research profile of the Department which came out of the 2008 RAE exercise and we found that we were in good agreement with these judgements. In summary, the outputs are very good and are making a very significant impact on the international scene. We congratulate the Department on this performance."

RAE 2008

UCL's submission under physics for the Research Assessment Exercise 2008 was the second largest in UCL. It combined activities spanning three departments and several interdisciplinary research centres.

The RAE panel considered 'the research infrastructure to be internationally excellent with world-leading aspects, and appropriate to the size and needs of the Department. Strong support from the University was noted. The sub-panel acknowledged the evidence presented of strong research strategy involving many interdisciplinary interactions, and the presence in the department of a high proportion of early career researchers as well as senior international visitors"

For further details our RAE submission see https://www.ucl.ac.uk/phys/phys/research/rae

Teaching Quality Assessment

The department is proud of the quality of its teaching, and has long had a continuing programme of internal review to maintain its own high standards. The quality was endorsed by the QAA, who awarded 23 points from a possible 24.

Teaching Quality Assessment for universities has been conducted on a subject-by-subject basis. The assessment of UCL physics took place in February 2000, when an audit team of 10 reviewed all teaching in the department of Physics & Astronomy in conjunction with the departments of Medical Physics & Bioengineering and Space & Climate Physics.

Subjects are assessed on six core aspects of provision, each of which can be awarded a maximum of four marks:

Core aspect Rating Max.
Curriculum design, content and organisation 3 4
Teaching, learning and assessment 4 4
Student progression and achievement 4 4
Student support and guidance 4 4
Learning resources 4 4
Quality management and enhancement 4 4
Total 23 24

The reviewers gave particular mention to the following:

  • a good range of physics and astronomy courses
  • an excellent fourth year of the MSci undergraduate degree, especially the research component
  • excellent training in communication skills
  • well-planned teaching
  • highly qualified applicants for full-time degrees, with good progression rates
  • good induction for new students
  • a good range of learning resources and staff to manage them
  • excellent laboratories, especially at the University of London Observatory and in Medical Physics
  • excellent departmental and College quality assurance structures and procedures.

The full report is published by the Quality Assurance Agency

Our undergraduate programmes have also been scrutinised by a visiting panel from the Institute of Physics, and all programmes taught by the department have been given unqualified accreditation,with comments including "...there are no doubts about the standards expected and achieved at this department...", and "students are communicative, intelligent and friendly; they are very supportive of the department and are highly satisfied with their experience at UCL...".

For many years, the quality of our teaching has been continually assessed and assured by a variety of methods:

  • every student is invited to fill out a confidential assessment form for every course
  • the delivery of every course is monitored and critically assessed by an independent member of staff
  • the staff-student Committee meets regularly to act on feedback from student representatives
  • new lecturers are required to attend training courses
  • all lecturers are encouraged to attend courses to enhance their teaching skills
  • the departmental Teaching Committee maintains close observation of each lecturer's performance
  • the Board of Examiners monitors examination results and relates these to the teacher concerned
  • external Visiting Examiners scrutinise examination scripts, project reports and coursework, and report to the College on our procedures.