Policy on the Quality of the Undergraduate Curriculum
The Department of Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) seeks to provide high quality studies to its students and the production of high-quality research with an international orientation.
(* The term “students” is used in the following text meaning all the students regardless of gender)
The main characteristics of the quality assurance policy of the Department are:
- The vision and the mission of the Department as they are mentioned in the government gazette (FEK) of its establishment.
- The agreement with the principles, the standards and the quality assurance guidelines of EHAE, the national and European legal framework and the principles and the strategic planning of the University of Peloponnese.
- The development of a quality culture inside the Department as well as in its relationships with the social partners aiming at the continuous improvement.
- The transparency and public information regarding its activities.
For the implementation of this policy the Department:
- develops a modern, flexible, and appropriately organised curriculum aiming at the close connection of the studies with the wider society as well as with the job market in order to increase the employability of its graduates.
- specifies the learning outcomes of the curriculum according to the National and European Framework of Qualifications.
- promotes excellence in all levels (teaching, research, administration).
- supports the teaching and research activity of the members of Teaching Research Staff (TRS), emphasizing on the international presence and promotes the close connection of teaching with the research.
- follows the internal procedures that aim at the continuous improvement of teaching and research work as well as the provided services to the students.
- collaborates with the Internal Assessment Unit (I.A.U.) and the Quality Assurance Unit (Q.A.U.) of the University of Peloponnese for the annual review and the internal inspection of the quality assurance system of the Program of Undergraduate Studies.
The Department of Political Science and International Relations has a strong interdisciplinary nature and orientation, with members of Teaching Research Staff with different fields of knowledge and research interests which cover an important range of subjects that vary from political science and international relations, sociology, finance and area studies up to history, law, new technologies and cultural studies.
The interdisciplinary nature has obvious advantages in the era of globalisation and close interdependence of social phenomena and has been recorded with very positive reviews by the External Evaluation Report of 2014. However, it could have some drawbacks as well, which are connected with the coordination and the cohesion of the Curriculum. These possible weaknesses are addressed by the Department through extensive and systematic consultation. This consultation is not based only on the meetings of the Assembly but it is achieved with the constant informal communication between all the teaching staff, taking into account the opinion of the representative body of the students as well as colleagues from Greece and abroad, together with the operation of Committees which facilitate the structured, formal and regular communication of the members of Teaching Research Staff (TRS) and the systematic and in-depth exchange of ideas on teaching and research. In this way important collaborations are secured. Therefore, the Department has achieved a coherent curriculum with a strong complementarity and gradual specialization.
The preservation of this coherence in the Undergraduate Program is achieved through three committees: the Committee of Undergraduate Studies, the Erasmus Committee and the Internship Committee.
The Committee of Undergraduate Studies checks the content of the modules and detects possible overlaps or gaps, suggests additions or revisions on the curriculum with a relevant suggestion to the Departmental Assembly every May, it ascertains if the Curriculum is compatible with the corresponding international and Greek curriculums, it reforms the ECTS credits, it examines the correspondence of the workload of the students and the corresponding ECTS credits and ensures that the assessment of the students is continuous. The Committee meets regularly (at least 4 times per year) and submits suggestions to the Departmental Assembly. From now on, according to its decision which was taken at its meeting on 18/6/2018, the Committee of Undergraduate Studies will submit an annual report (per academic year) to the I.A.U. The Committee of Undergraduate Studies has a crucial role in the preparation of issues for the Assembly and is a valuable mechanism for the dissemination of information and feedback.
The ERASMUS committee monitors the number of incoming and outgoing students for studies and their progress, the number of incoming and outgoing instructors and the number of incoming and outgoing administrative officers. The Committee is responsible for the continuous expansion of the international relations of the Department and the increase of the number of bilateral collaborations, advises and guides the students on writing the Learning Agreements of the incoming and outgoing students, it monitors the students’ progress (ECTS, grades, module correspondences), it organizes regular informative meetings and sets criteria for the selection of the students to be moved. The Committee meets regularly and submits suggestions to the Departmental Assembly. The Department has already a significant number of collaborations with European universities under the Erasmus program. The quality assurance policy of the Department aims at the further development and deepening of these international collaborations, the increase of the number of incoming and outgoing students and the improvement of their academic performance.
Finally, the Internship Committee (I.C.) is responsible for the creation of relationships with bodies which will offer internships to students which will be consistent with the direction of their studies and their general interests. The Committee assigns the Supervising Professor of the students who conduct an internship. It meets at least 3 times per academic year or when it is judged as necessary and it submits suggestions to the Assembly of the Department. From the academic year 2018/19, the Internship Committee will submit an annual report to the I.C. and to the Employment and Career Unit (E.C.U.), which will include the following: a list of bodies which employed students, evaluation of the results of the Internship and suggestions for improvement, where needed.
A fundamental goal of the quality assurance policy is that the administrative staff of the Department (Student Registry, Library, Technical Support) operates with rules of transparency, complementarity and cooperation. The administrative staff of the Department has clearly defined responsibilities, is very willing and friendly and is characterized by excellent collaboration. This very good climate between the different staff categories (TRS, Special Technical Laboratory Staff, Administrative Staff) is critical for all the functions of the Department and its preservation and consolidation is a basic priority of the quality assurance policy. The same applies to the relationships of the students with the staff of the Department.
A special emphasis is given to the relationships of the teaching staff with the students. The institution of the Study Advisor is one of the many opportunities that students have to communicate with the teaching staff. It is indicative that all the modules of the Undergraduate Curriculum are available on e-class providing all the information regarding the material, the examination way etc., suggesting additional bibliography and providing summaries and presentations of the lectures.
The quality assurance policy of the Department gives special emphasis on the continuous enrichment of the modules on e-class with additional information and analysis. At the same time, it is an established practise of the Department for the teaching staff to have scheduled times for face-to- face communication with the students and to answer all the emails of the students in reasonable time. A basic priority of the quality assurance policy is the use of additional assessment methods apart from the written examination in the end of the semester. All the members of TRS already use a wide variety of mid-term assessment methods which vary from Mid-term exams to individual or group assignments, which are either presented orally before the class or are submitted to the professors as written assignments. The preservation and consolidation of the practise which encourages students to attend the lessons more systematically is an aim of the quality assurance policy. However, in the third and fourth year of study the number of students who attend systematically descreases. Although the obligatory attendance is not prescribed by the existing legislation, the quality assurance policy encourages the rewarding of participation.
The Department approves the organisation of lectures by external members (TRS of other universities, diplomats, politicians and market executives) as it considers very important for the students to hear different views. During its operation plenty of speeches, events and conferences with prominent speakers from Greece and abroad have already been organised. This practise is extremely useful and its continuation and expansion is a priority.
The Department encourages the students’ participation in the electronic evaluation procedure of the modules. The current percentage of students’ participation is low and the encouragement of participation is a priority. On the basis of this, the multifaceted information of the students for the opportunity of the evaluation and for its importance has been intensified. The Department takes into account the feedback which the evaluation procedure provides and the Assembly discusses the findings of the assessment, highlighting good and bad practises.
The use of the Library of the Department is of great importance for the quality assurance of the educational procedure. Towards this direction the library collection is constantly renewed and expanded, through resources that come from research work (e.g. undergraduate studies programs) and from donations of members of TRS, extended opening times are provided while students are trained and are encouraged to use the books and the electronic sources that it offers. The Library staff organises regular seminars for students on the use of the Library and the electronic bases of the University, on searching, evaluating and using sources and the assignment writing procedure.
In the meeting of 18.06.2018 the establishment of a Research Designing Committee was decided, in which the design of the research policy of the Department was assigned, which is based on the fields of knowledge and the research interests of the members of TRS. The Committee will monitor and keep a list of the research activities of the members of TRS of the Department and their results (publications/reports/publicity actions etc). Furthermore, the Committee will encourage and monitor the participation of the undergraduate and postgraduate students, doctorate students, postdoctoral researchers and academic fellows in the research programs of the Department and will provide the relevant data to the IAU. In the end of every academic year, the Research Designing Committee will submit a report to the corresponding IAU regarding the research activity of the Department and its results, which will be incorporated in the annual report of the Department towards the QAU.
The fact that many members of TRS collaborate closely is especially positive -a fact that is reflected in joint publications as well as in the participation in joint research projects. The Department welcomes and encourages such collaborations which provide the opportunity to contribute to the creation of research hubs.
The Research Designing Committee will ask the members of TRS to present a Design in which they will present their research projects for the next 3-5 years. Despite the fact that such a Design cannot be binding, it will be useful information whose diffusion may contribute to the creation of additional collaborations.
Most of the members of TRS of the Department are active researchers with a large number of publications in Greece and abroad. Books of members of TRS of the Department have been published by well known international publishers and articles have been published in international scientific journals with a high impact factor. Furthermore, the number of international citations of members of TRS is remarkable. The quality assurance policy of the Department gives great emphasis to the publication of articles in international scientific journals with the highest possible impact factor.
Many members of TRS of the Department are scientifically responsible for competitive research programs which are funded by the E.U. and other international organisations as well as by national public and private resources. As far as funded research is concerned, the Department is one of the most active in the University. From 2013 until today the Department was a Leader in 12 research programs in total (with a total budget of about 1.500.000 euros) as well as a partner in many more. Furthermore, the Department hosts a Jean Monnet chair while it is a partner (with the Department of Economics) of a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence (from the 29 that exist globally). Finally, members of TRSΤ have been awarded by international bodies for their research work. The Department encourages the members of TRS to submit high quality proposals with international participation to calls for funded research work. The Department has also adopted the institution of “Visiting Researchers”, which has attracted a significant number of new doctorate holders from Greece and abroad, contributing to the development of important collaborations and research outcomes.
Despite the fact that the Department has been offering for many years 5 postgraduate programs of study with many graduates, the participation of postgraduate and doctorate students in the research activity is limited. The Research Designing Committee encourages the members of Teaching Research Staff to collaborate more closely with the postgraduate students, the doctorate students and the postdoctoral researchers of the Department. Furthermore, the quality assurance policy emphasizes the intensification of the effort to educate the undergraduate students in the research methodology with exercises, assignments and presentations.
The collaboration between the Department and other Departments of the University -especially with Departments with a related subject such as the Department of Economics and the Department of Social and Education Policy. However, the Research Designing Committee indicated the need to make a greater effort for a closer interconnection of research production at interdepartmental level.
Networking is very important for the research production. The Department already participates in national networks (it is a founding member in some of them). However, the participation in international networks could become more intense. The Research Designing Committee encourages the members of TRS to work more vigorously in this direction.
Finally, in the modern era the diffusion of research is very important. The Research Designing Committee encourages the members of TRS to make their research known to a wider academic audience. The popularization of research with publications in the mass media is of great importance. Members of TRS make a significant effort in this as well. The encouragement of such an activity is a priority of the Department.