Quality and Standards
The establishment and enhancement of high academic standards are 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
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 has a series of gateways that all potential programmes will pass through before first delivery. The first stage consists of presenting a high-level proposal to the Portfolio Development Committee (PDC) to consider issues of strategy and sustainability. If approved by PDC, the programme becomes “approved for design” and the academic department produces a more detailed design that contains input from all relevant professional services departments before being submitted to the Curriculum Strategy Committee (CSC). If it is supported by CSC it may be granted ‘approved for recruitment’, 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.
- Making Modification to Modules and Programmes
- Modification Form: LTQG Approval
- Modification Form: CSC Approval
(a) Student Education Plan
The annual review of programmes, previously known as PARs, now takes the form of the Student Education Plan (SEP). Information can be obtained from Gillian Baldwin in the Academic Office and from the Planning tile on the Staff Portal.
(b) Curriculum Review
Curriculum Review (previously Periodic Review) takes a risk-based approach using data on the quality of teaching and student outcomes. The following templates should be used:
- UG programme specification template
- PG programme specification template
- Module specification template
- Context paper
- Guidance on writing the UG programme and module specifications
- Guidance on writing the PG programme and module specifications
Questions can be addressed at any time to the Academic Office, headed by Gillian Baldwin.
(c) 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.
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:
- Assessment procedures
- UG Assessment and feedback framework
- PG Assessment and feedback framework
- Design and delivery framework
- Internal Moderation Form
- Mitigating circumstances policy
- Generic Learning Outcomes
These are supported centrally by the Academic Office working closely with Partnership Office, Academic Schools and Departments.