Course and Programme Approval

Overview of the Approval Process

Covid-19

Special Arrangements have been agreed for the approval of changes to courses and programmes that have been required to adjust academic delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic:

Changes for courses due to be delivered in 2021-22

Changes for courses delivered in 2020-21

Standard Process: Overview

  • College Boards of Studies have the authority to approve new programmes, programme amendments and programme withdrawals. This process is monitored by the Academic Standards Committee (ASC). ASC maintains a Programme Approval Group (PAG) to consider proposed new/amended programmes that are novel collaborative/TNE programmes and to advise ASC on cases where the proposed provision is non-standard or a College Board of Studies has concerns about 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 programme approval experience.*
  • School/Research Institute Learning & Teaching Committees' (or equivalent) composition will include two members of the relevant College Board of Studies from outwith the School/RI concerned.*
  • Colleges and Schools are required to have all of their new/amend proposals in PIP by 30 April, and approved by 31 July. For new courses, submission to PIP as early as possible in advance of the 30 April deadline will assist Space Management & Timetabling in identifying the most suitable teaching accommodation. Please note that, separate to the PIP process, other deadlines may be set by Colleges for planning purposes. Colleges will notify Schools/RIs directly, as appropriate. Any proposals that will have implications for what appears in the University Regulations should be approved by early June in order to comply with the production schedule for publication of next session's Regulations.

------------------

* It is appreciated that it can be difficult, in practical terms, to involve two members of other Schools’ Boards of Studies in the School approval process, and ASC reps in the College approval process. However, their involvement in such decisions is essential to acceptable QA practice. Firstly, having two external members on the relevant committee provides strength in numbers and reduces the vulnerability of a single external member coming under duress to approve something they are perhaps uncomfortable about approving. (In the case of School approvals, 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. While it is preferable for all members to be present to engage with discussions at the relevant Board/L&T meeting, anyone not able to attend should submit comments on the proposals.

Arrangements for 2022-23

Retaining Temporary Changes introduced during the Covid-19 Pandemic

In order to manage the need for rapid development of online delivery for 2020-21 and 2021-22, Schools/RIs were permitted to give blanket approval for Covid adjustments and these did not require input to PIP. It is recognised that there will be a desire to retain a significant number of the changes introduced in 2020-21 and 2021-22 permanently as there has been positive feedback on many aspects of digital delivery. Schools/RIs are therefore required to ensure that all provision approved under the special arrangements for Covid that will be continued in 2022-23 will be fully input into PIP. This will need to take place during the current session (2021-22), however a facility has been introduced to allow these proposals to be approved by a system bulk upload – thus reducing the workload associated with processing proposals through PIP.

Following submission of changes into PIP, users can tick the Permanent Covid Adjustment box on the PIP proposal screen. Changes will then be approved by bulk upload (with none of the usual requirements for consultation).  [NOTE – this can only be used where ALL the changes submitted are adjustments that were previously introduced under the arrangements for temporary changes for Covid].

Approval of new courses, other course amendments and withdrawals

Please follow the standard procedures for approval, amendment and withdrawal for courses.

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 UK Quality Code Advice and Guidance on Course Design and Development as well as the University Academic Quality Framework.