The PECOS Programme Council meeting 28 October 2015
Hilde Henriksen Waage (Chair), Hanne Hagtvedt Vik, Håvard Strand, Anne Julie Semb, Lars Leion, Silje Greger, Siri Marie Aamodt and Siv Håberg (secretary).
Kristian B. Harpviken
5/15 New course offered spring 2016 - HIS4110
Resolution: The Programme Council has decided to offer Pecos students the possibility to take HIS4110. In this course, the students can choose to follow the syllabus from an already existing course or to prepare their own syllabus in English or Norwegian. In the latter case they would need to have the reading list signed by an academic staff member. The examination will take the form of a trial lecture.
6/15 Discussions on the external committee’s report
The aim of the periodic programme evaluation is to improve the PECOS programme in general by pointing out strengths and weaknesses and suggesting improvements. Håvard started the discussion by indicating what he believed to be the most important improvements and why.
There is a poor foundation for recruitment, especially of candidates coming from other countries. Interviewing candidates will simply cost too much since we receive many hundreds of applications and for many of them PECOS is not their first choice. The Programme Council would like to check with UiO’s lawyers whether we can require our self-financing applicants to take a GRE test in addition to the TOFEL test (Siv will be responsible for this).
2 Internet and lack of academic identity
Our web presentation requires improvement, since it does not make clear to our applicants/students what they can expect to learn from our programme. We need to rewrite our presentation keeping in mind that we are not an interdisciplinary programme, but a multidisciplinary programme based on collaboration between History and Political Science. Lack of clarity concerning whether the programme should be research-focused or more vocational must also be addressed. (Håvard, Hilde, Siri and Siv will be responsible). Information on time and place for examinations and lectures requires improvement (Siv, Siri, Håvard and Øyvind will be in charge).
The composition of PECOS4010 and the integrity of the programme are not satisfactory. Håvard thinks it is preferable to have only one course coordinator who will be responsible for inviting different lecturers to ensure a balance between lectures given in History versus Political Science.
Our programme is very small and we have many mandatory courses. Regular student mobility is difficult but Håvard also believes we are a good example of “internationalization at home”.
5 Individual supervisor or supervisor in seminars
Håvard’s opinion is that students who find supervisors themselves may keep those, while the rest will be put in groups guided by one supervisor.
6 Meeting points for teachers involved
Misunderstandings regarding time and place of examinations, syllabus and focus in lectures could, in Håvard’s opinion, be avoided if we follow the committee’s advice to create meeting points for students, teachers and staff across IAKH and ISV.
7 Research-focused programme or more vocational programme
Håvard pointed out that the external committee is guilty of a fallacy in its belief that PECOS is an elite study programme. There are no reasons why the students joining the PECOS programme should obtain better grades than our students joining the master’s programme in Political Science.
Overall Håvard believes that the feedback from the report is positive, but he is also aware that our teaching and examination methods are somewhat outdated and do not always provide the best learning outcomes. He will try to meet this challenge by introducing new and different ways to test the students.
He finds it disappointing that the committee says nothing about the costs entailed in running a programme such as PECOS.
The Student Council has supplied the external committee with a student survey and the student representatives focused on these results and compared them with the results from the external committee.
The student representatives pointed out that the students still do not know which contact point to use for various types of information. On our PECOS homepage we have informed our students of these contact points. The most important of these regarding course information for our applicants and students is:
According to our student representatives the communication between students and the departments is not satisfactory.
The Programme Council discussed what improvements we would like to implement in the immediate future, after the student representatives finished their presentation. These are as follows:
1 How to improve communication
We will arrange meetings for all teachers and staff members across the two departments before each semester in order to coordinate information flow, syllabus, examination etc. Hilde Henriksen Waage and principle teachers will attend our information meetings for students (Siv/Siri will coordinate).
Topics and semester pages must be checked every semester in order to ensure that the time and place of the examination are absolutely correct (Øyvind/Håvard and Siv are responsible for this). Siv will also send information to students as to where to find our contact points. Gry and Leon will inform other students that also students themselves must take responsibility for seeking information from our web pages, and emphasize the importance of showing up at our information meetings.
2 Change of name
PECOS4010 is primarily focused on Political Science, while it should in fact focus 50/50 on History/Political Science. It also needs a change of name to clarify the nature and content of the PECOS programme. PECOS4021 is not satisfactory either, and IAKH is considering taking over the responsibility for reorganizing the course and ensuring that students from both tracks will be evaluated fairly, unlike the current situation in which some are given grades and some receive pass/fail (Hilde and Hanne will be responsible for this).
Students on the History track must have a supervisor with a History background and IAKH will organize assignment of supervisors themselves.Håvard will present a strategic document at our next meeting in April, which will focus on the implementation of the changes in PECOS.
7/15 Date and time of the next meeting
The next meeting will be held in April 2016. The exact time and date are to be agreed on later.