Course and Programme Approval

Overview of the Approval Process

****These pages are currently being revised for 2019-20.****


  • College Boards of Studies have the authority to approve new programmes. College Boards of Studies also approve amendments to programmes (minor or major) and the withdrawal of programmes. This process is monitored by the Academic Standards Committee (ASC). ASC’s Programme Approval Groups (PAGs) have been dissolved, though ASC will maintain a PAG to consider proposed new/amended programmes that are co-owned by more than one College, are collaborative/TNE programmes, or to advise ASC on cases where a College Board of Studies has concerns whether the proposal conforms to University policy. Further guidance is available here.
  • Schools and Research Institutes have the authority to approve all new courses, amendments to existing courses and the withdrawal of courses. This is monitored by ASC and College Boards of Studies.
  • College Boards of Studies are required to audit annually and report to ASC on course approval activity by the corresponding Schools/ RIs. Further guidance is available here.
  • College Boards of Studies' (or equivalent) composition will include two members from other College(s) who are past or present members of ASC, ideally with PAG experience.
  • School/Research Institute Learning & Teaching Committees' (or the equivalent) composition will include two members of the relevant College Board of Studies from outwith the School/RI concerned*.
  • Fast-track approval no longer operates. Colleges and Schools are required to have all of their new/amend proposals in PIP by 30 April, and approved by 31 July.

* It is appreciated that it can be difficult, in practical terms, to involve two members of other Schools’ Boards of Studies in the course approval process. However, their involvement in such decisions is essential to acceptable QA practice. Firstly, having two members from other Schools on the committee provides strength in numbers and reduces the vulnerability of a single external member coming under duress to approve something s/he is perhaps uncomfortable about approving. Their membership of the College Board of Studies and access to the Board thereby should also strengthen their hand if necessary. Secondly, having two external members is intended to ensure some flexibility in the process - with two external members, it would be easier to obtain the presence of at least one of the two. In some cases, the involvement of both is not essential to individual decisions.

Definition of Course and Programme

A course is defined as a self-contained unit of study on a particular topic, with defined level, credit value, aims, intended learning outcomes, mode(s) of delivery, scheme of assessment, and possibly also pre- and co-requisites.

A programme is defined as a set of compulsory and elective courses leading to a defined award, with defined aims, intended learning outcomes, mode(s) of delivery, and scheme of assessment.

Our approval processes are required to and comply with the QAA Quality Code Chapter B1 as well as the University Academic Quality Framework.