National Student Survey

There is a very wide variation in the satisfaction of full-time final-year undergraduate students with the quality of the teaching of first degrees in theology and religious studies at UK universities.

This is according to results from the National Student Survey (NSS), which has been running annually since 2005, and whose 2010-11 data were published today. The survey is administered by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the higher education funding councils.

The percentage of students at each institution who said that they definitely or mostly agreed with the statement that ‘overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course’ (question 22) is shown below.

The data relate to undergraduate courses in theology and religious studies except where an asterisk appears (denoting a course in philosophy, theology and religious studies). In some cases, the satisfaction scores are based on more than one year’s NSS results.

100% Durham University

100% University of Exeter

100% Liverpool Hope University

100% University of St Andrews

98%   University of Cambridge

98%   St Mary’s University College, Twickenham

97%   University of Stirling*

96%   University of Kent

96%   University of Oxford

96%   York St John University

94%   University of Bristol

94%   University of Chester

94%   University of Glasgow*

94%   University of Nottingham

93%   University of Aberdeen

93%   Heythrop College, University of London

90%   University of Edinburgh

90%   University of Manchester

89%   Lancaster University

89%   Oxford Brookes University*

89%   Roehampton University

89%   University of Winchester

88%   University of Sheffield

87%   Bangor University

86%   King’s College London

86%   University of Leeds

84%   Anglia Ruskin University*

84%   Cardiff University

83%   Bath Spa University

81%   Newman University College

81%   Queen’s University Belfast

76%   University of Birmingham

76%   Canterbury Christ Church University

76%   School of Oriental and African Studies

76%   University of Wolverhampton

74%   University of Hull

73%   Middlesex University*

72%   University of Gloucestershire

71%   University of Wales, Trinity St David (formerly Lampeter)

The league table is in line with expectations in many respects, not least in the strong showing by such institutions as Durham University, the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford.

But there are a number of surprises, especially in comparison with the assessment of the quality of research in theology, divinity and religious studies, as measured in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).

For example, Liverpool Hope University, only 20% of whose research output in the field was judged 3* or 4* in 2008 (i.e. world-leading or internationally excellent) was joint top of the NSS table with 100%.

Towards the other end of the spectrum, the University of Birmingham achieved a 60% rating of its research at 3* and 4* but came well down the NSS list (in joint 32nd place, out of 39 institutions).

The NSS data can be searched and downloaded from:

The RAE results will be found at:

British Religion in Numbers: All the material published on this website is subject to copyright. We explain further here.

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