2.2 Module Approval

1. The University’s Module Approval Process is overseen by the Quality Assurance Committee (QAC). Institute Learning & Teaching Committees (LTCs) are responsible for approving new and restructured modules, minor changes to modules and the suspension and withdrawal of modules. Proposals for new and restructured modules should be made on the Module Approval Form (MAF) and submitted to the relevant Institute for consideration. Proposals should be scrutinised by an independent academic member of staff; the assessor should complete the section at the end of the MAF before the module is considered by the LTC. Following approval by the LTC the Institute should upload the final version of the MAF to SharePoint and enter the module details on the Module Database. Proposals for Distance Learning modules based on existing campus-based modules, and Welsh-Medium modules which are direct replicas of an approved module, or vice-versa, should be made on the MAF.

2. All new and restructured modules should be approved by Institutes and information updated on the module and scheme database for the following academic session by the end of the spring term (for 2017/18 this deadline is 23 March 2018) or no later than 31 March where the spring term ends after this date. 

3. The Minor Change Form (MCF) should only be used to request minor changes to modules, for example a change of title, small changes in content, changes in assessment weighting where this does not affect learning outcomes, and changes to semester. The MAF must be completed if there are significant changes to module content, learning outcomes or assessment. 

Minor Change Form (MCF)

4. Proposals to withdraw and/or suspend modules should be submitted to the Institute LTC for approval. Enquiries regarding withdrawal or suspension of modules should be directed to the person responsible for the LTC in the relevant institute in the first instance.  Institutes may wish to use the Module Withdrawal or Suspension Form (MWS) to record modules to be withdrawn or suspended when they are considered by their LTC.

Module Withdrawal or Suspension (MWS)

5. As part of the approval process within Institutes, the Institute responsible for the teaching should ensure that it has the necessary resources available to deliver the module.

6. The AQH does not intend to provide a prescriptive form of words for completing a Module Approval Form (MAF), but aims to clarify some of the frequently asked questions. Changes to a module requiring Institute approval include:

(i) Substantial revision of module content;
(ii) Any change in the designated level;
(iii) Any change in the credit weighting;
(iv) Any change in the learning outcomes and/or methods of assessment.

7. The need for a new or restructured module is recognised at departmental or subject level, and a Module Co-ordinator is identified to lead on drafting the proposal.

8. Using the MAF and the guidance provided in the Quality Handbook, a draft proposal is prepared; where a module is being restructured this should be indicated in the box in each section where changes are being proposed.

9. The proposal should be submitted for the Institute approval to the Institute Learning & Teaching Committee. This may be to a named person in the first instance (such as the Director of Learning & Teaching or an administrator) in order for a module reviewer to be nominated and the proposal to be passed to them.

10. Institutes should have a process by which module proposals are scrutinised by an independent academic member of staff who has not been involved in writing the module (e.g. a module reviewer might be nominated by the Director of Learning & Teaching or equivalent, or Director of Postgraduate Studies.

11. The assessor should consider the module, provide constructive feedback in the section at the end of the MAF and recommend one of the following actions:

(i) Approval of the proposal;
(ii) Referral to the Institute LTC for further discussion, or approval subject to specified amendments having been made;
(iii) Referral back to the module co-ordinator for further development.

12. The completed MAF, including comments from the independent reviewer, should be approved by the Institute LTC.

13. Once a module has been fully approved the Institute is responsible for uploading the final version of the MAF to SharePoint. AQRO, Information Services and the Timetable Office will automatically be notified via a workflow in SharePoint.

14. Institutes are also responsible for creating or amending the module details on the Module Database on AStRA. New modules will not appear until AQRO has received notification that the MAF has been uploaded onto SharePoint.

15. In cases where a minimum threshold may be applied to an option module, the Institute must inform students that the module cannot be guaranteed to run with low numbers of registered students, and that students may be asked to choose again.

Guidance on Completing the Module Approval Form (MAF)

16. The information in the MAF is used as the basis for all relevant module documentation, including that on the AU module database and in degree scheme handbooks.  Careful consideration should be given to the level of detail which will appear on the web in the context of Competition & Markets Authority guidance. Published information should be sufficiently detailed to enable current and prospective students to make informed choices, but not so full that minor changes – not affecting learning outcomes or assessments – would trigger the need for the submission of a module approval form.

17. The final deadline for new Part Two module proposals is in time for provisional registration in the session prior to the one in which it is intended to introduce the module. Only in exceptional circumstances, such as those arising from staff changes, should Institutes consider module proposals submitted after that date.

MAF - Background Information

18. This preliminary section of the MAF provides the background information for the module. Questions are generally administrative and self-explanatory.

  • Q5 Module Co-ordinator: Where it is proposed that co-ordination of the module and/or a significant part of its teaching is to be undertaken by someone who is not a member of A.U., a brief C.V. for the person(s) concerned should be submitted with the module approval form to the appropriate Institute committee.
  • Q10 Does the proposal have implications for the structure of any study schemes?  Please be aware that significant changes to the core of a scheme or a change in level of a module may result in an imbalance in semesters.
  • Qs 12-21 are important for the module database and monitoring quality through checks on the module portfolio. Care should be taken with regard to overlap in other departments. A search for identical/similar titles and/or content may be undertaken using the module database. Where this section is used to identify complementary components, please indicate similarities and differences in level of content as well as subject of content. Does the proposed module develop topics introduced in another module, provide a core knowledge for others or dove-tail at the same level?

Module Rationale and Content

19. This should be as objective as possible. The proposer may have a very clear sense of a module's intended value and outcomes but this may be less apparent to an observer from outside the discipline.

  • Q22 Academic rationale:  This should provide background information, e.g. the intention to fill a gap in the portfolio of modules and/or skills; a goal to improve the employability of students, or to enhance their ability to handle complex issues with a range of academic/technical skills. Some specific objectives may be included e.g. relating to the expectation that the proposed programme will meet professional accreditation requirements or the module will help meet revised requirements; that students will have more up-to-date ICT skills or that they will have wider ICT skills that can be updated regularly in employment or through further study.  This information will not appear in the module database.
  • Q23 Brief Description:  This should be a brief summary, aimed at the student audience, of the content of the module (no more than 150 words). This information will appear in the module database.
  • Q24 Content:  This information will appear in the module database. The information needs to be reasonably detailed and should include the topics to be covered and provide an indication of the proportion of time and the type of delivery to be expected such as lectures, seminars and or other forms of delivery.  If colleagues are overly prescriptive when setting out the course content in the MAF, it may restrict their ability to make amendments to individual lectures or seminars in response to developments in the field or module evaluations. The detailed week by week plan setting out lectures, seminars etc. can be published on Blackboard, in module handbooks or equivalent as aspects of the delivery may change from year to year without change to actual content which would require resubmission of a MAF.

Learning and Teaching

20. In relation to details of any other teaching methods the proposer might wish to draw attention to alternative methods of delivery from the standard lecture, seminar and practical options e.g. ICT\group\external activities.

Learning Outcomes and Assessments

21. The proposed level (0, 1, 2, 3, M, etc.) should be determined in relation to the agreed AU level descriptors; see appendix 1.

  • Q29 Learning Outcomes: please use the standard format ‘On completion of this module, students should be able to' followed by a numerical list of learning outcomes. The list need not necessarily be in order of importance; it is helpful for the outcomes to be numbered to facilitate a response to the question on how they are linked to methods of assessment. Normally 3- 8 learning outcomes might be specified for a 10 credit module.
  • Q30 Assessment: This information will appear in the module database and links directly to timetable and exams scheduling software.  Please give length of examinations, details of course work and percentage weighting of each and explain how each learning outcome is linked to the methods of assessment. Assessment refers to all means by which students' progress through and performance in a module are measured. Both formative and summative assessments are relevant. Please use the tabular format provided.
  • Assessment:   The types of assessment should be specified, i.e. unseen examination, (essay, short answer, multiple choice, etc.) and coursework (oral, portfolio, performance, essay, etc.), with the length/scale.  All components of summative assessment should be included as a proportion of the total assessment. This is vital in monitoring the assessment/credit weighting relationship and student workload. If the learning outcomes describe a student centred learning approach with a group based approach but the assessment is predominantly unseen exams, an incompatibility will be detected.
  • Resit Assessment:  This refers to re-sit opportunities, please ensure you make it clear both when the re-sit will be available and what sort of assessment it will be. The format of the resit or should be the same as the semester assessment except where it cannot be replicated, e.g. in group or practical work.  Any elements which have been passed should normally be carried forward.

Skills

22. The development of one or more of the skills listed in this section may be explicit within the module programme. If it is, the nature of the skills to be developed should be indicated. If, in addition, the skills are to be formally assessed, this should be indicated as yes/no. Please see appendix 3 for approved list of skills.

Other General Information

23. Q38 Reading List:  Please add the reading list for this module to Aspire Reading Lists as soon as possible. The reading list should normally consist of no more than 12 books; please distinguish between essential and further reading and add to the Aspire Reading Lists as soon as possible.

  • Information Services staff will purchase library stock with one copy of every book on the list in the first instance. Purchasing multiple copies for Essential books for modules starting in Semester One will begin in June when expected student numbers are known.
  • Information Services staff will publish the Aspire list when they check this form and will link the list to the Aspire hierarchy when the new module code becomes available on Aspire.
  • Further resources can be added at any time so that the list can be republished.
  • One-to-one training to new Aspire users is available, or if you have any other questions about this process or about using Aspire, please contact your subject librarian or acastaff@aber.ac.uk  
    Self-paced training materials are also available here.

24. Q39 Resources:  Library and IT requirements should include some indication of the frequency of use of IT, e.g. is a computer laboratory needed every week, intermittently etc.? What software is needed, what printing facilities? Library and IT requirements should be discussed with IS at an early stage in the formulation of proposals.

Evidence of Independent Scrutiny

25. Module proposals should be scrutinised by an independent academic member of staff who has not been involved in writing the module; the reviewer should be nominated by the Institute LTC or equivalent, and not by the person(s) drafting the module.  The reviewer should complete this section of the form and liaise with the proposer, who should make any necessary changes to the form and/or give a response in the box below. Where a module is a direct translation of an already approved module it is not necessary for this section to be completed.

Approval

26. Modules are subject to approval at institute level, through an Institute LTC or equivalent.  On completion of the internal approval process within an institute the member of staff responsible for oversight of the approval of modules should upload the final version of the MAF to the SharePoint site, and also ensure that the information is entered on the module database.

Level Descriptors

27. In determining the nature of the demand that the module makes on students reference should be made to the level descriptors agreed for use in Aberystwyth University: see paragraph 19 of Appendix 2: Modular Study Schemes: Summary of University Policy.

Learning Outcomes

28. Module Learning Outcomes should follow the following guidelines:

  • An outcome should be expressed in terms of what students should be able to do on completion of the module.
  • The list of outcomes may distinguish between ‘specific', directly assessed, outcomes and ‘general' outcomes which are broader in nature and not assessable directly by the methods of assessment in any one module.
  • An outcome should be expressed in wording such that it is possible to envisage a student being able to achieve it on a scale from ‘fully' through ‘partially' to ‘not at all'.
  • The demands on students, as indicated by the intended learning outcomes, should be appropriate to the level of the module (see institutional level descriptors for what is understood by ‘level 1', etc.).
  • The outcomes should be assessable across the range of the student cohort for which the module is designed.
  • A set of outcomes for a module would normally include a range of types of student attainment (knowledge, understanding, skills).
  • It is not expected that there would be more than about 8 outcomes identified for a particular module.

Outcome vocabulary

29. There is no set vocabulary with regard to learning outcomes. However, it is advisable to keep the following in mind.

  • Verbs used to describe outcomes should be active and indicative, if the outcome is to be assessed, of the capacity to measure each outcome through formative or summative assessment. For example, if students are expected to, ‘understand’ a concept, it might be preferable to state that students should be able to, ‘identify’ qualities of the concept, ‘describe’ its value in explaining a phenomenon, ‘illustrate’ application of the concept and, ‘evaluate’ its significance. These outcomes could be seen as measurable manifestations of the understanding that we would expect students to gain.
  • Understanding includes the very specific instances, in this example, of identification, description and illustration. However, there is a variety of intermediate levels of definition. This sort of vocabulary might include, ‘critically identify’, ‘demonstrate an ability’, ‘be able to apply/discuss’ and ‘use a range’. These might equally meet the requirements for measurement. Clearly this will vary greatly between and within disciplines.

30. The table below includes some more of the less measurable verbs and alternative terms that could be linked to assessment methods more closely. Clearly, they are context specific and some are interchangeable. This is not a definitive list.

General verb

Measurable verb

Understand

Demonstrate an understanding of

Be aware of

Describe, Illustrate, Discuss

Comprehend

Analyse, Evaluate

Assimilate

Explain, Synthesise

Establish

Demonstrate, Identify, List, State, Justify

Appreciate

Analyse, Evaluate, Compare

Make known

Communicate, Explain

Carry out

Perform

Know

Define, Discriminate, Distinguish, Evaluate

Skills for personal and professional development

 

Terminology The learner will be able to
Application of Number
  • Obtain and interpret mathematical and statistical information
  • Tackle problems involving number
Communication and Literacy
  • Read in different contexts and for different purposes
  • Write for different purposes and audiences
  • Speak in different contexts and for different purposes (inc presentation and discussion)
  • Listen effectively
Improving Own Learning and Performance
  • Show awareness of own learning styles, personal preferences and needs, and barriers to learning
  • Devise and apply realistic learning and self-management strategies
  • Devise a personal action plan to include short and long-term goals
  • Review and monitor progress, revising action plan as appropriate, to improve overall performance
Application of Information Technology
  • Use a range of commonly used software packages
  • Prepare and input data
  • Manage storage systems
  • Present information and data
  • Use email /internet appropriately and effectively
Personal Development and Career Planning
  • Develop awareness of personal skills, beliefs and qualities in relation to course/career progression
  • Plan and prepare for future course/career
  • Market skills, experience and achievement effectively on paper and in person
  • Understand and use a range of job search strategies
Problem Solving
  • Identify problems
  • Identify factors which might influence potential solutions
  • Develop creative thinking approaches to problem solving
  • Evaluate advantages and disadvantages of potential solutions
  • Construct a rational proposal in response to a problem
Research and information literacy Skills
  • Understand a range of research methods
  • Plan and carry out research
  • Produce academically appropriate reports
  • Evaluate research methods, design and procedures
Subject-specific Skills
  • Devised by Departments - as appropriate
Team Work
  • Understand the concept of group dynamics
  • Contribute to the setting of group goals
  • Contribute effectively to the planning of group activities
  • Play an active part in group activities.
  • Exercise negotiation and persuasion skills
  • Evaluate group activities and own contribution.