University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)

Terms of Reference for Department Committees


The minutes of all meetings, excluding reserved and/or confidential business, are available for inspection in the Education Support office. Chairs of the committees will present reports to each Department Meeting, indicating the areas of business covered in the preceding period and any upcoming items of general significance.

Categories of Business


The culture within the Departments is one of openness and shared-ownership of policy and information, therefore the majority of business conducted at meetings is open and fully recorded in the published minutes to which any member of the University may have access.


Student representatives must leave the meeting during discussion of reserved business. It normally involves discussions about academic matters that identify individuals. For example, the performance of individual students or staff members, or external examiners' reports. Reserved business is minuted separately and access to the minutes is restricted to members of the academic staff of the Department and others approved by the meeting or Head of Physics/Medical Imaging.


Confidential business is normally dealt with directly by the Head of Physics/Medical Imaging and the individuals affected. If it is essential that a meeting discuss confidential business all people not directly required for the discussion should leave. The fact that there was confidential business discussed will be noted on the published minutes, but further details (e.g. the subject or conclusions) are at the discretion of the acting Chair. There will be one copy of the minutes of confidential business made, and access to this will be under the direct care of the Head of Physics/Medical Imaging. Breaches of confidentiality will be considered a serious disciplinary offence.

Circulation of Minutes

The minutes of meetings should be promptly checked by the Chair and then circulated by email, identified as 'Draft' or 'Unconfirmed', normally within one week of the meeting.

Department Meeting

Membership: Head of Physics/Medical Imaging (chair), all academic and academic-related staff, technical staff representative, support staff representative, student chair of SSLC, UG student representative (also on Education Committee), PG student representative (also on Research Committee), Department Administrator (Secretary).

Meets: three times year, plus plus extra meetings as necessitated by significant events.

Reports to: Head of Physics/Medical Imaging

Minutes to: Department Academic Staff


The job description for Heads of Departments approved by Senate and Council establishes their main duties. Included among them is the requirement 'to secure whole-Department commitment to objectives through effective communication and a collaborative approach to decision-making.' The description goes on to state: 'The Head should hold regular (at least termly) Department meetings and should take full account of any recommendations which arise but need not be bound by them.'

Education Committee


Meets: twice per term with extra meetings as required by special circumstances (e.g. Programme Review).

Reports to: College Education Strategy Committee

Minutes to: Department Academic Staff, Associate Dean (Education)

Notes: Stage Coordinators have a dual role, they act as both Assistant Senior Tutor and Assistant Director of Education for a Stage.


Monitors all aspects of teaching and learning, reporting to Department Meeting and College Education Strategy group, liaising with other committees, as necessary.
  1. Monitor and review the Department's ability to attain it educational aims and intended learning outcomes and inform College of resources needed to sustain and develop the infrastructure of teaching and learning.
  2. Implement and monitor the applicable parts of the College's current Education Plan
  3. Encourage innovation in teaching and learning and related staff development activity.
  4. Initiate, consider and approve plans covering all aspects of the teaching and learning programmes.
  5. Develop responses to individual, local, national and international initiatives.
  6. Implement and monitor mechanisms for ensuring the maintenance of the quality of teaching and learning.
  7. Review all aspects of teaching in the light of reports from examiners, students and from internal and external appraisals.
  8. Coordinate the Department's response to any external appraisal.
  9. Oversee recruitment of undergraduate students.
  10. Implement the aims, policies and procedures of the University as they apply to learning and teaching
  11. Monitor, maintain and enhance academic standards in the Department
  12. Monitor, maintain and enhance the scope and coherence of the curricula of the Department's programmes
  13. Monitor teaching quality by a range of indicators, and formulate and disseminate policy that will assure and enhance the quality of learning and teaching activities in the Department
  14. Develop and maintain mechanisms for the support of students in learning
  15. Consult students formally about learning and teaching matters in the Department, and ensure that, wherever appropriate, students participate in decisions about learning and teaching
  16. Co-ordinate the development of expertise in teaching and learning pedagogy by the Department's staff
  17. Advise the Head of Physics/Medical Imaging on the effective deployment of the Department's resources in learning and teaching activities
See also: [University] Code of Good Practice

Research Strategy Committee

Membership: HoD (chair), academic leads.

Reports to: Department Meeting.

Meets: twice per term and extra meetings as required by special circumstances (e.g. Research Excellence Framework).


Monitors all aspects of research planning, reporting to Department Meeting and liaising with College Management Committee and Associate Deans, as necessary.

  1. To encourage innovation and activity in research.
  2. To implement initiatives to enhance the research of the Department and its external profile.
  3. To oversee the recruitment and recruitment policy of postgraduate research students.
  4. To consider research proposals and final reports prior to external submission.
  5. To oversee the structure and delivery of the Research Student Training Programme.
  6. To monitor the progress of postgraduate research students and the effectiveness of their supervision. (RESERVED)
  7. To develop responses to local, national and international initiatives.
  8. To inform the College Management Committee on the resources required to sustain the infrastructure of research, specifically including space needs.
  9. To monitor the level of research activity and the outcomes of grants.

Student/Staff Liaison Committee

Note: See also section in Student Representation.

Standard agenda items are specified in the University Code of Good Practice.

Safety Committee

Membership: Head of Physics/Medical Imaging, Department's Safety Officer, two representatives from recognised unions, University Representative.

Meets: twice a year and each meeting is preceded by a safety tour of the Department.

Reports to: Head of Physics/Medical Imaging, Department Meeting

Minutes to: University Safety Committee


Note: See also statement of Safety policy. To advise and assist and the Head of Physics/Medical Imaging:
  1. To provide and maintain safe and healthy working conditions
  2. To ensure that both research and teaching equipment are adequately maintained and that safe systems of work are followed by staff and students.
  3. To provide training, instruction or supervision as and when required.

Ethics Committee

Note: see also section on Ethical Approval of Procedures.

The discussions and records of the Ethics Committee shall be confidential.

Membership: Ethics Officer, Chair, and two others. May enlist the help of outside expertise as and when necessary.

Meets: on an ad hoc basis. The Designated Ethics Officer will call a meeting within one month of submission of a research or project proposal. Should the number of submissions increase, the Committee may decide to hold meetings on fixed dates during the year.

Reports to: University Ethics Committee


  1. To consider consider all research proposals (from both the Department's staff and its students) involving the participation of members of the general public.
  2. To eithergive written approval of such proposals or to provide written information on why approval has been refused.
  3. To consider revised submissions.
  4. To refer to the University Ethics committee cases which cannot be resolved or about which there is uncertainty.
  5. To operate procedures which are no less rigourous than those suggested or required by relevant professional bodies.

Examination Boards

Note: see also [University] Code of Good Practice: Boards of Examiners for Taught Programmes of Study

Examination Boards are appointed each year by the University Senate on the recommendation of the Faculty Board concerned; they do not report to Department Meetings.

Membership: As appointed by the relevant Faculty. External Examiner(s), Head of Physics/Medical Imaging (chair), members of academic staff involved in the examinations.

Quorum: half the appointed internal members, rounded up, plus an external examiner.

Meets: as business requires, normally:

Reports to: relevant Faculty


  1. members are jointly responsible for the setting and marking of papers in their own subject or subjects
  2. make recommendations relating to the making and classification of awards
  3. Receipt of University and Department assessment conventions
  4. External examiners' reports and associated correspondence/action from the previous year
  5. Pass and classification lists, with appropriate medical evidence
  6. Progression lists, referrals/deferrals, with appropriate medical evidence
  7. Delegation of powers
  8. Oral review by the external examiner(s)

Department Mitigation Committee

Note: see also [University] Late Submission of Coursework: Procedures and [University] Guidelines for Mitigation Committees

Membership: At least three members of staff representing the range of programmes, both undergraduate and postgraduate with the Academic Education Support Manager in attendance.

The discussions of, and evidence considered by, the Department Mitigation Committee are confidential business. The conclusions and recommendations are reserved business. External examiners will have access to the full minutes.

Quorum: Two members.

Meets: A few days in advance of Examination Boards

Reports to: Examination Boards


  1. Consider in the light of relevant supporting evidence claims for granting extension of the submission date for assessed work or reduction in the University penalty;
  2. Evaluate claims of Mitigating Circumstances received by the Department and make appropriate adjustments to marks for assessments;
  3. consider applications for deferral.

University of Exeter Handbook (Physics) Questions/Comments Department (Physics)