Quality and Standards

The establishment and enhancement of high academic standards is at the heart of the University’s vision. The systems and procedures for quality assurance are developed and implemented by the University’s Academic Office. By facilitating a positive, self-critical organisational culture and a supportive environment, the Office engages all members of the institution to contribute to the continuing development and maintenance of our high standards.

This webpage provides information on the development and monitoring of our programmes of study as well as details of the processes which support these activities and the University’s key assessment-related policies.

The links on the left provide access to other important areas within the Academic Office's remit – Collaborative Partnerships, External Examining and Academic Regulations. Please visit the relevant subpage for more information on these aspects of quality assurance and the processes involved.

As part of its work in leading and managing quality assurance policy and processes, the Academic Office provides secretarial support to the University’s Curriculum Strategy Committee, the Learning Teaching and Quality Committee, Collaborative Provision Subcommittee and the Research Degrees Committee.

Quality Assurance Procedures

QAA Mark

The Quality Assurance Agency carried out an Institutional Review of the University in January 2013. The outcome of the Review was that the University has met UK expectations in all four of the Judgements: academic standards; the quality of learning opportunities; the enhancement of student learning opportunities and information about learning opportunities. The Reviewers also identified a number of features of good practice. The findings are published in the QAA report and the University has produced an action plan.

The procedures of academic quality assurance take place at module, programme, department and institutional levels. This involves two overarching processes, the development of new curricula and the on-going management of existing provision.

Although the Academic Office works with individuals across all segments of the University, it particularly interacts closely with Programme Convenors who hold the responsibility for leading programme teams, maintaining the academic integrity of the programmes and enhancing their quality. Programme Convenors play a key part in the wide range of activities outlined below.

Module and Programme Development

(a) Planning New Curricula

To implement major new developments in the curriculum, the University follows a three stage programme planning process. The first stage consists of initial collection of information and data. The second stage is for a proposal to be submitted to the Curriculum Strategy Committee (CSC) to consider issues of strategy and sustainability. If it is supported by the Committee it may be granted ‘approval in principle’, at which point it may be advertised ‘subject to validation’ and can move forward into the third stage which is the full development and approval of the curriculum.



Detailed information about all approved programmes is available on the Programme Details site. The site is updated early in the spring term for the following academic year, in liaison with the Programme Convenors, and continuously maintained to reflect all modifications to modules and programmes approved throughout the year. It thus provides a live online resource and a definitive up-to-date record of each programme offered.

Most crucially, the curriculum structure and module records, as published on each programme page, are used to facilitate online enrolment and timetabling processes, linking the activity of the Academic Office with other key areas of the University.

(b) Modifying an Existing Module or Programme

Programmes and modules may require modification, for example to maintain currency or in response to feedback from external examiners or students. All modifications, whether to programmes or modules, require formal approval, which is generally obtained through one of two procedures. Modifications resulting in limited impact on the student are approved through departmental LTQGs; those with more significant impact are considered at university-level by the Curriculum Strategy Committee (CSC). Guidance to the procedures can be found below, as can the required forms.

Programme Management

(a) Programme Annual Review/Student Education Planning

For the 2020/21 academic year, the PAR process is being replaced by Student Education Planning. Information can be obtained from Gillian Baldwin in the Academic Office and from the Planning tile on the Staff Portal.

(b) Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs) Visit

Professional or statutory regulatory body (PSRB) visits are a form of external review for those University programmes that receive professional accreditation in addition to the University degree. They constitute an important audit of provision and information on the full process is available here.

Information on the periodic review for collaborative programmes is available on the Collaborative Partnerships page.

(c) Periodic Review

Periodic Review of all programmes takes place within a five-year cycle and is a process of evaluation, re-design and revalidation of programmes against a range of indicators.

(d) Institutional Review

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Institutional Review is an examination of how institutions assure the quality of their provision and maintain the academic integrity and standards of their awards. The scrutiny is carried out approximately every six years by a team of external reviewers who visit the University, meet with staff and students and consider documentary evidence that demonstrates how the University is meeting sector expectations on quality and standards. The Review results in four judgements, which are graded, and a written report that is published on the QAA website. The role of the Academic Office is to provide advice and guidance to staff and to take the lead in preparing for the Reviews in cooperation with staff across the University.

(e) Programme Closure and Suspension

The closure or suspension of a programme of study requires extensive consideration at Department and University levels as sufficient academic rationale, resource and planning data need to be provided in order for the University to make an informed decision. This information should be captured in the Programme Closure Form (PCF) or, where it is intended to suspend recruitment, a Programme Suspension Form (PSF). Once completed, the PCF/PSF should be forwarded to the Academic Office for consideration at the Curriculum Strategy Committee (CSC). Final approval for programme closures will then be sought from the University Senate. The PCF/PSF from should expand on the reasons for closure or suspension, the ramifications on resources (both Department and University, including staffing implications), as well as proposals for remaining students, plans for restarting recruitment and any other relevant information.

Overview of Annual Quality Assurance and Related Activities

Procedures related to quality assurance complement a range of other activities that academic staff engage with on an annual basis.

Postgraduate Research Programmes

The quality assurance of research degree and professional doctorate programmes is primarily overseen by the Graduate School and policies and processes for these students and programmes are set out in the Research Degrees Handbook and the Research Degree Regulations.

Academic Policies

The University's main policies related to the academic running of taught programmes cover a wide range of activities. These are detailed in the links and documents below:

Collaborative Partnerships

These are supported centrally by the Academic Office working closely with Partnership Office, Academic Schools and Departments.