2. Development and Review
A pdf copy of this section is available for download: Section 2 PDF
2.1 Introduction to Development and Review
1. Section 2 of the Handbook describes the University’s processes for the design, development and approval of new programmes of study, and its annual and periodic exercises to monitor and review existing provision at scheme and subject level.
2. New schemes and modules should be developed within academic departments, drawing on good practice in curriculum design, and taking account of QAA level descriptors and subject benchmark statements. Consultation with students, and external consultation with external examiners, subject specialists, PSRB bodies or other advisory boards should take place at an early stage of scheme development, and documentary evidence of this process will be considered by a standing scheme approval panels. Departments should consider the staffing implications of any new developments to safeguard the resilience of the portfolio, and also take account of the two-year planning cycle to ensure that the scheme approval process can be completed in good time to ensure effective marketing.
3. In designing a new study scheme or module, departments will need to take account of the criteria as detailed in the Scheme Development Forms (SDF) and Module Approval Forms. These will be scrutinised as part of the approval processes which are outlined within Section 2 of the AQH.
Consumer Law and changes to existing provision
4. In March 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published advice for higher education providers to help them comply with their consumer law obligations. This advice sets out the CMA’s views on compliance in a number of areas, including the provision of information for undergraduate students. QAA have prepared a practical guide that aims to help providers present good quality information to prospective students, including entry requirements, course structure and delivery, module information, assessment and feedback, and course costs. This is available at:
5. In light of CMA advice, faculties will need to plan carefully before making any changes to existing schemes and their constituent modules. Where changes are proposed as part of annual monitoring or periodic review exercises, or in response to student or external feedback mechanisms, departments will need to consult with current students (including those who have accepted an offer but who have not yet commenced their studies) before the changes are considered for approval. The exact nature of this consultation will depend on the extent of the proposed changes but could consist of one of the following. Departments should consult the Academic Registry QA team for further guidance: email@example.com
(i) Consultation through the Staff-Student Consultative Committee;
(ii) Consultation with individual students by email, with responses to be sent to Student Academic Representatives for a collective discussion at SSCC;
(iii) Consultation with individual students by email, requiring agreement by all students.
6. In cases where option modules may not be offered due to insufficient interest or staff unavailability, this must be made clear to students in published information, and students must be advised of any changes to available modules as soon as possible so that they can choose an alternative. This will be made clear to students in departmental handbooks, which included a common statement at university level.
7. The UK Quality Code for Higher Education requires degree awarding bodies to provide definitive information about their awards. This is provided in the programme specification, which provides details of the knowledge, understanding, skills and other attributes that students will have developed on successful completion and the teaching and assessment activities that support their learning.
8. Academic Registry is responsible for maintaining programme specifications online, and departments will review their accuracy as part of the Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes. The programme specifications will also be subject to external scrutiny as part of the Periodic Review of Schemes.
9. A template is provided for their initial development and approval as part of scheme approval or Periodic Scheme Review. For schemes with an integrated year in industry or year aborad study, a separate template is provided which includes generic learning outcomes. These are published in Section 2.12 of the AQH. Guidelines for writing programme specifications have been prepared by QAA:
(Chapter A2 supersedes the Guidelines for Preparing Programme Specifications which are now replaced by Expectation A2.2) and by HEA:
Marketing of new schemes
10. The University has adopted the following policy for the marketing and publication of information on new schemes.
11. New schemes will not be advertised on the University’s course search pages or made available to applicants through UCAS until final approval. No exceptions will be made to this policy.
12. All new schemes may be advertised in the printed University prospectus ‘subject to approval’ after initial proposals have been considered by the relevant Faculty Academic Affairs Committee (FAAC).
13. In exceptional cases, FAAC may allow other means of marketing ‘subject to approval’. This would allow departments to produce printed brochures or display information through departmental webpages or social media. This would not however extend to UCAS or the University’s course pages. To seek FAAC approval for wider marketing ‘subject to approval’, departments will need to complete an application as part of the Scheme Development form (SDF). FAAC will make its decision based on the following criteria:
For schemes taught at Aberystwyth:
(i) At least 75% of the new scheme is already being taught through existing modules;
(ii) All resources are in place for the delivery of the new scheme;
(iii) The scheme title has been established and will not be subject to further amendments.
Marketing ‘subject to approval’ will not be approved if it is considered that the scheme title may be subject to further discussion and amendments at the panel stage of the scheme approval process.
For schemes to be delivered through a collaborative partnership:
(i) The partnership arrangement is already approved;
(ii) The scheme is based on established provision at Aberystwyth and will not involve any adaptation of content or change of title.
14. Departments are responsible for maintaining accurate and current information on their courses. Guidance on how to publish information on courses is available through the Web Team pages: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/it-services/web/courses/. Information on courses is published at https://courses.aber.ac.uk with detailed scheme structures by academic year at https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/study-schemes/ . Details on individual modules are indexed by academic year and by Department at https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/modules/.
2.3 Summary of the Scheme Approval Process
1. This section provides a summary of the scheme approval process, which is described in detail in sections 2.4 – 2.6. Staff may also find it useful to refer to the scheme development flow charts.
2. The approval process is split into ‘Executive’ and ‘Non-Executive’ approval pathways. Please consult with your Academic Registry QA link to determine the most appropriate approval pathway.
3. The ‘Executive’ approval pathway is for proposals which are considered as major changes or restructures, development in an area of new provision, and where there are resource or university-level implications which require sign off by the University Executive; the business case (PAF1/PAF2) should be submitted to the University Executive for consideration. The academic outline will be considered by the Portfolio Planning Committee (PPC) before scrutiny by a standing approval panel.
4. The ‘Non-Executive’ approval pathway is for proposals which are considered to be minor changes or restructures, development within an existing area, where there are no resource implications and therefore sign off is not required by the University Executive; these can be approved at Faculty level thereby not requiring further scrutiny by an internal approval panel.
5. Where a free-standing Certificate or Diploma is offered, it must be approved as a new study scheme with a programme specification and scheme structure.
6. Change to degree scheme titles, scheme suspensions and scheme withdrawals will also be considered by PPC.
7. Schemes should not be advertised online, or appear on UCAS, until they have fully completed the approval process, but may be marketed as ‘subject to approval’ in the printed University prospectus. Schemes could be marketed as ‘subject to approval’ at open days, or on departmental websites, subject to a satisfactory case being made to the PPC or approval panel where appropriate, and providing that all advertising copy and presentations at events made it clear that such courses are still subject to formal approval.
8. To ensure adequate time for an effective marketing campaign and successful launch, proposals should ideally be developed following a 2-year planning cycle. This enables proposals to be considered at departmental level, allows departments time to undertake external consultation, current student and alumni consultation, discussions with Global Marketing and Student Recruitment, as well as time for proposals to complete the appropriate approval route.
2.4 Executive Approval Pathway
1. This section describes the process for the approval of taught degree schemes and other schemes of study leading to awards at Aberystwyth University and applies to new scheme proposals. Schemes will be approved for a five year period, after which they will need to undergo a process of Departmental Periodic Review (Section 2.8).
2. Scheme provision at the University is overseen by the Portfolio Planning Committee (PPC), a sub-committee of Academic Board. PPC is responsible for maintaining an overview of proposals for new schemes, suspensions and withdrawals. Proposals for new schemes will be considered by a standing Scheme Approval Panel, which reports to PPC.
3. The approval process is designed to address the guiding principles, and meet the core and common practices as outlined in the UK Quality Code. This is to assure the University that, in developing new study schemes, academic departments have given proper consideration to the following:
(i) External reference points, including any relevant subject benchmark statements and the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ);
(ii) The advice of external subject specialists (for example a current external examiner or members of an external advisory body) and, where appropriate, the requirements of PSRBs and employers;
(iii) The compatibility of scheme proposals with existing provision and with institutional goals and mission;
(iv) Resource requirements including staff, library, IT and any subject specific resources (e.g. laboratory facilities);
(v) The likely level of demand.
The approval timetable and process
4. Academic departments planning to introduce a new study scheme, or significantly modify an existing one, should allow for sufficient time for recruitment and advertising. Staff who are developing proposals must liaise with the Planning Office, Global Marketing and Student Recruitment and Information Services in the early stages of development.
5. The timescale for marketing and approval (two year planning cycle) are published online and updated on an annual basis: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/academic-registry/handbook/dev-review/. Proposals should be submitted to PPC and the deadlines for the submission of papers are available online: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/academic-registry/aqro-coms/. In cases where proposals for new schemes are not in line with a two year cycle, PPC will determine the feasibility of an earlier introduction.
6. The executive approval pathway is for proposals which are considered as major changes or restructures, development in an area of new provision, and where there are resource or university-level implications which require sign off by PPC and the University Executive Group. The process is split into two stages:
SDF1.1, PAF1/PAF2 – Consideration of business case and impact on overall academic portfolio by PPC and University Executive Group.
7. Departments should submit the following documents supporting the initial proposal to the PPC and the University Executive Group. Deadlines for submission of paperwork can be found here: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/academic-registry/aqro-coms/. Departments should consult with the Faculty PVC, Planning Department, Global Marketing and Student Recruitment, and the Academic Registry QA link before submitting a proposal.
(i) Committee coversheet;
(ii) Scheme Development Form 1: Proposal for a New or Restructured Scheme: SDF1.1 only is required for consideration by the PPC, and additional guidance is provided within the form;
(iii) Preliminary Finance form (PAF1 / PAF2): Faculties/Departments should liaise with the Planning Department in good time prior to submission of the proposal. Following this detailed discussion, the Planning Department will provide the template for these forms for consideration by the University Executive Group; they are only available on request from the Planning Department (https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/pag/).
8. The PPC and University Executive Group will consider proposals in the context of strategy, business viability including costs, risks (including reputational risks), student numbers and practical considerations and will determine whether they should go forward for academic consideration by the standing Scheme Approval Panel, referred back to the Department for further discussion or rejected. The Department should consult with the Faculty Executive as appropriate, including the Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) and the Associate Dean (Welsh-medium Academic Provision). If the proposal is likely to affect provision in other subject areas, the Dpartment should also consult with the other departments.
9. Departments will be notified of the decision of PPC and the University Executive Group.
Marketing of scheme
10. The scheme may be advertised as ‘subject to approval’ in the next formal University prospectus following approval from the PPC and University Exectuive Group. Schemes cannot be advertised on UCAS or online until they have fully completed the approval process, unless the department has made a successful case for advertising the scheme as ‘subject to approval’ in printed and online materials in addition to the formal University prospectus. The Academic Registry QA team will communicate the decision to the proposing department(s) and to relevant service departments.
SDF1.2 and remaining proposal paperwork - Consideration of academic rationale and overview by the standing Scheme Approval Panel.
11. Once approval to proceed to the next stage of the approval process has been received from PPC and the University Executive Group, detailed consideration of the academic content, curriculum design and delivery, the student experience, learning resources, support and administration arrangements, and formal sign-off of the proposal, will be considered by the Scheme Approval Panel (see dates here: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/academic-registry/handbook/dev-review/). The Scheme Approval Panel may not reject a proposal unless it is on QA grounds.
12. Departments should complete the SDF1.2 and remaining proposal documentation and submit it with SDF1.1 to the Scheme Approval Panel;
(i) Committee coversheet;
(ii) Programme specification(s), including scheme/module learning outcomes mapped against assessment (SDF9);
(iii) Evidence of external consultation;
(iv) Evidence of consultation with current students/ alumni;
(v) New/restructured module approval forms, where appropriate, or links to existing modules;
(vi) Nomination of an External Assessor Form (SDF7).
13. Academic Registry will liaise with the External Assessor who will be required to complete a written report prior to the event for consideration at the approval panel: SDF8 External Assessor’s Report. This will be requested by Academic Registry once the External Assessor has accepted the invitation. External Assessors are not invited to attend the Panel unless issues arise from the report which require further discussion, then they may be consulted by video conference.
Outcome of approval panel
14. Following the meeting of the panel, minutes of the meeting are produced by the Secretary to the Panel (normally a member of the Academic Registry QA Team) in consultation with the Chair.
15. A committee coversheet should be completed by the proposing Department in response to the minutes, providing details of amendments made to the original proposal as a result of the feedback from the Scheme Approval Panel. No further changes should be made to SDF1.1 and SDF1.2 unless it is a recommendation of the Panel. The committee coversheet and the minutes of the approval panel will be submitted to PPC. PPC minutes are submitted to Academic Board.
Scheme approval panels
16. The standing Scheme Approval Panel will have membership of 12-16 academic members of staff with each faculty nominating members to normally sit for a period of up to 4 years. These will include the Associate Dean (L&T) but there will be a quorum of 4-5, to include an Academic Registry and student representative, and not all nominated faculty members would have to attend each time. Normally an Associate Dean will chair the Panel.
17. The standing Panel will normally sit 5-6 times between October and April. Proposals for scheme approval will be considered at these meetings and departments will need to plan accordingly, but additional meetings may be scheduled if necessary.
18. External Assessors are not required to attend meetings but must submit a written report. The panel may ask for further comments where appropriate or the External Assessor may be invited to attend via video conference if issues are identified in their written report that require further detailed discussion.
19. The Secretary to the Panel (usually a member of the Academic Registry QA Team) is responsible for taking minutes, identifying decisions and any recommendations. These minutes will go to the proposing department for any further action, and will also be submitted to PPC as a record of the decisions taken.
20. The membership of the Scheme Approval Panel will be as follows:
a. The Chair, to be drawn from outside the proposing academic department, and usually an Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching). The Chair should have suitable independence and critical distance from the proposed scheme, and will be selected by Academic Registry;
b. A minimum of one member of academic staff, with suitable independence and critical distance from the proposal;
c. A student representative, to be drawn from a pool nominated by the Students’ Union, normally a Student Reviewer;
d. A member of staff from the Academic Registry QA Team, who will also draft the panel report.
21. Academic Registry will be mindful of Welsh-medium representation on panels.
22. Academic departments will be invited to nominate a representative to present the proposal at the panel meeting. In the case of cross-academic department schemes, a representative from each academic department involved will be nominated by their respective department.
The role of the Scheme Approval Panel
23. The Scheme Approval Panel is constituted as a standing panel reporting to the PPC. The Panel is responsible for making final decisions on the approval of scheme proposals, but may refer decisions back to PPC or on to Academic Board if there are significant areas of concern or issues of wider consideration for the University. PPC will retain oversight for the operation of the Scheme Approval Panel and will monitor the effectiveness of the QA processes.
24. The Panel will ensure that there is evidence of sufficient external consultation during the development of the scheme, for example with current external examiners, departmental external advisors, and representatives of professional or accrediting bodies. The Panel will take full account of the views of the external assessor, who will be required to complete a written report (SDF8) prior to the event for consideration by the panel.
25. Meetings of approval panel will be ordered as follows;
(i) Welcome by the Chair;
(ii) Summary of the proposal by the proposing academic department(s);
(iii) General discussion, which will consider the following questions and take account of the needs of all students:
- Is there evidence of demand for the scheme and are the entry requirements at an appropriate level?
- Are the aims and learning outcomes of the scheme appropriate particularly in relation to relevant subject benchmarks, the Framework of Higher Education Qualifications and the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales?
- Is the curriculum content and design appropriate for achieving the intended learning outcomes of the scheme?
- Is the curriculum organised such that the demands made of the learner in terms of intellectual challenge, skills, knowledge, conceptualisation and learning autonomy increase progressively?
- Is the assessment regime suitable to measure achievement of the intended outcomes?
- Are there adequate resources, i.e. staff, library, IT and any specialist requirements, to deliver the scheme effectively?
- Are there any special features of the scheme that have implications for its viability, management or delivery, or for the regulations of the University?
(iv) Deliberation by the panel, for which the representative of the proposing department(s) will not be present;
Decisions of Scheme Approval Panel
26. The Approval Panel will have the choice of one of the following decisions:
a. Unconditional approval;
b. Approval with minor modifications(to be approved by the Chair of the Panel);
c. Conditional approval: this will require the proposing department to submit a response to the Chair of the Panel, which will also be ratified by the external assessor;
d. Referral back to the academic department(s). In such cases it is anticipated that considerable revision would be required before re-presenting the proposal;
e. Rejection (on QA grounds only).
27. The Approval Panel will define actions as recommendations or conditions:
a. Recommendations: should be areas for consideration by the proposing department, or minor corrections, but will not delay the approval of the proposal.
b. Conditions: which should be stated clearly where approval is subject to specified conditions being met within a given time scale. Approval will not be granted until these conditions have been met.
28. The Secretary to the Approval Panel will produce minutes of the meeting, noting its decision, which the Chair will sign. The proposing academic department will be invited to complete a committee coversheet, to be reviewed by the Chair of the Panel, and External Assessor if required. If the Chair is satisfied that there are no issues of concern then the decision of the panel shall be considered final and reported to the PPC. Where there are any issues of concern the final decision shall be referred to PPC or Academic Board depending on the level of the issues raised.
Marketing and Introduction
29. The subject to approval flag will be lifted, and the scheme advertised online and on course search, once it has fully completed the approval process. The Academic Registry QA team will communicate the decision to the proposing department(s) and to relevant service departments.
2.5 Non-Executive Approval Pathway
1. The ‘Non-Executive’ approval pathway is for proposals where there are no resource implications and therefore sign off is not required by the University Executive Group. Proposals considered via the non-executive approval pathway should include:
(i) New provision in an existing area (drawn from existing module provision);
(ii) Minor change or restructure;
(iii) New Major/Minor combinations and Joint Honours schemes.
2. Proposals following the non-executive pathway will be considered by the Portfolio Planning Committee (PPC) and can be approved by a relevant Faculty Approval Panel (a sub-group of FAAC) which will be scheduled as necessary.
3. Departments should consult with Planning, Global Marketing and Student Recruitment, and the Academic Registry QA link before submitting a proposal for a new scheme.
4. Academic departments should carefully consider the implications of any minor modifications to existing schemes, which may arise as a result of annual monitoring exercises or external feedback, and consult with students as outlined in Section 2.1 of the AQH. Academic departments should also consult the Academic Registry QA Team to ascertain which approval pathway should be followed. If PPC is not satisfied with the level of detail provided, or is not assured that the proposed changes constitute a minor modification, the committee may require the department(s) concerned to submit a proposal for a scheme restructure by an SDF1.
5. In order to ensure that existing schemes do not change as a consequence of cumulative annual revisions, to the extent that they are no longer valid in relation to their original specifications, all minor modifications to existing schemes must be monitored by faculties and be reported to Academic Board through the Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes. All schemes are also subject to periodic revalidation of provision, as part of the Departmental Periodic Review, every five years.
6. Minor modifications to schemes may also be approved during the course of periodic revalidation of provision, as outlined in Section 2.8 of the AQH.
7. To help academic departments to assess the level of changes being proposed and the appropriate approval process, guidance should be sought from the Academic Registry QA Team. Minor modification will typically involve the following:
(i) No substantive change to the credit number of core modules and restriction of student choice;
(ii) No substantive change to the credit number of core modules and restriction of student choice;
(iii) No substantive change to the scheme learning outcomes, content and assessment methods;
(iv) No changes affecting more than 60 credits at any level in Part Two of an undergraduate scheme;
(v) No changes affecting more than 60 credits of a taught postgraduate scheme.
8. Academic Registry may determine that external consultation is required if the scheme differs significantly to existing provision at that level.
Portfolio Planning Committee
9. All proposals following the non-executive pathway will be considered by the PPC which will determine whether the proposal should go forward for academic consideration by a Faculty Approval Panel, be referred back to the Department for further discussion or rejected.
Marketing of scheme
10. Schemes may be advertised as ‘subject to approval’ in the next formal University prospectus following approval from PPC. Schemes cannot be advertised on UCAS or online until they have fully completed the approval process, unless the department has made a successful case for advertising the scheme as ‘subject to approval’ in printed and online materials in addition to the formal University prospectus. The Academic Registry QA team will communicate the decision to the proposing department(s) and to relevant service departments.
Consideration of proposal by Faculty Approval Panel
11. Once approval to proceed to the next stage of the approval process has been received from PPC, detailed consideration of the academic content, curriculum design and delivery, and formal sign-off of the proposal, will be considered by the Faculty Approval Panel, which will be scheduled as necessary. The Faculty Approval Panel may not reject a proposal unless it is on QA grounds.
12. The Panel will have membership of at least two faculty academic representatives who have not been involved in the development or pre-Faculty Panel approval of the proposal, nominated by the Faculty; normally an Associate Dean will be a member of the Panel. The Panel must also include a representative from the Students’ Union and the Academic Registry QA link who will be responsible for taking notes of the meeting. Additional members may be invited if deemed appropriate. Academic Registry will be mindful of Welsh-medium representation on panels.
13. Approval by the Faculty Approval Panel will constitute the final stage of the approval process. The notes from the Panel will be submitted to FAAC with the proposal documentation for information only, and to PPC as a record of the decisions taken.
New Provision in an existing area
14. Departments should follow this route if they are proposing the development of new schemes within an existing area or provision, for example, drawing upon existing modules, and where there are no resource implications. The Department should complete the following for consideration by the PPC and Faculty Approval Panel:
(i) Committee coversheet;
(ii) Scheme Development Form 2 (SDF2);
(iii) Programme specification(s), including scheme/module learning outcomes mapped against assessment;
(iv) New/restructured module approval forms, where appropriate, or links to existing modules.
Minor change or restructure
15. Departments should follow this route if they are proposing a minor change or restructure of an existing scheme. The Department should complete the following for consideration by the PPC and the Faculty Approval Panel:
(i) Committee coversheet;
(ii) Scheme Development Form 3 (SDF3);
new/restructured module approval forms, where appropriate, or links to existing modules
Creation of new Major/Minor combinations and Joint Honours schemes
16. Departments should follow this route if they are proposing the creation of a new Major/Minor or Joint Honours scheme. Please note that this route should only be followed to join two pre-existing approved major, minor or joint elements. Departments should follow the New Provision in an Existing Area or Major approval route to create new major, minor or joint elements. The Department should complete the following for consideration by the PPC and Faculty Approval Panel:
(i) Committee coversheet;
(ii) Scheme Development Form 4 (SDF4).
2.6 Suspension and Withdrawal of Study Schemes and Changes to Scheme Titles
Suspend a study scheme
1. Proposals to suspendschemes will only be considered after full consultation within the relevant faculty, or across faculties where necessary. Departments should also ensure that Welsh-medium provision at scheme and module level is considered during this process. The normal expectation is that schemes will be suspended for one year only, after which point they will automatically be made available again for applications and visible on course search pages. Proposals to suspend schemes will be considered by the Portfolio Planning Committee, and departments should submit a committee coversheet and a Scheme Development Form 5 (SDF5) for consideration by PPC. No further scrutiny will be necessary and the decision will be recorded in the PPC minutes.
Withdraw a study scheme
2. Proposals to withdrawschemes will only be considered after full consultation within the relevant faculty, or across faculties where necessary. Departments should also ensure that Welsh-medium provision at scheme and module level is considered during this process. The normal expectation is that schemes will be phased out over a period to allow the University to meet commitments to registered students. Exceptionally, where urgent restructuring is necessary, the University will make every effort to secure places elsewhere for students already in the University who wish to complete the scheme of study they were admitted to. Where an undergraduate scheme is withdrawn part way through an admissions cycle the normal UCAS conventions will operate for those who have applied for entry to the scheme. Proposals to withdraw study schemes will be considered by the Portfolio Planning Committee, and departments should submit a committee coversheet and a Scheme Development Form 5 (SDF5) for consideration by PPC. No further scrutiny will be necessary and the decision will be recorded in the PPC minutes.
3. Section 2 is not only for Welsh Medium schemes as withdrawal of schemes may also have an impact on module-level Welsh-medium provision; it should be completed for all Departments should complete Section 2 in consultation with the Faculty Associate Dean (Welsh-Medium Academic Provision), who will be responsible for consulting with the Welsh Medium Development Group before the proposal is submitted to PPC.
4. Departments should bear in mind that PPC will scrutinise proposals to withdraw or suspend schemes and the implications of these decisions in light of CMA guidance on Consumer Law.
Changes to scheme titles
5. Changes to scheme titles will be considered by PPC. The Department should complete the following for consideration by the PPC:
(i) Committee coversheet;
(ii) Scheme Development Form 6 (SDF6).
No further scrutiny will be necessary and the decision will be recorded in the PPC minutes.
2.7 Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes (AMTS)
1. The University is committed to the annual monitoring of all its taught schemes within the context set by the UK Quality Code This process is overseen by the Academic Board.
2. The aim of the Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes (AMTS) exercise is to provide a secure mechanism whereby the University is assured that schemes are meeting their aims, and to identify areas of good practice and disseminate this information in order to enhance the provision.
3. Responsibility for annual monitoring of each undergraduate and taught postgraduate scheme lies primarily with the academic department, reporting to the appropriate faculty. It is important to identify concerns which are specific to a particular scheme or common to a number of them, reflect and report upon them and take appropriate action. This applies equally whether those concerns relate to a department’s own modules or those of another department or partner provider which are integral to the scheme in question.
4. The AMTS1 form should be completed by a scheme co-ordinator or equivalent, depending on how schemes are grouped. All taught schemes are subject to annual monitoring this includes undergraduate schemes, postgraduate taught and franchise schemes), and a separate form should be completed for UG, PGT and Franchise schemes. To assist with this process AM data packs will be provided for schemes where numbers are statistically significant.
5. As part of its consideration of AMTS2 reports, faculties may seek further clarification from departments on issues raised or require detail of action to be undertaken. Matters for consideration at university level will be referred to the Academic Board. In addition, the Collaborative Provision Board may seek further clarification from faculties on issues relating to collaborative partnerships and franchise agreements.
6. Scheme co-ordinators are requested to submit their AMTS1 reports to the faculty as formal evidence. AMTS1 forms for previous academic years will be available for Periodic Scheme Review and any future revalidation event for an individual scheme. The AMTS2 report is a consolidated report at faculty level. Reporting is by exception and comments should be made on matters that are of particular significance. These should include successes, good practice and innovation, risks to quality and challenges and should pick out matters for university attention.
7. Additional notes of guidance are provided in the following AMTS templates:
(i) Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes (AMTS) - Data Support provided by the Planning Office
(vi) AMTS 2
2.8 Departmental Periodic Review, including periodic revalidation of provision
1. Periodic Review provides an opportunity for the department, faculty and University to evaluate the effectiveness of a department’s management, learning, teaching and enhancement and quality assurance procedures and monitoring of performance against relevant KPIs and for the University to assure itself and be able to demonstrate to external bodies that management of quality and standards are being delivered successfully.
2. The Review Team, reporting to Academic Board will, on behalf of the University, audit departments on a 5-6 year rolling basis, to examine that all relevant processes and mechanisms for quality and standards are in place, operating effectively and efficiently, and that recommended enhancements to teaching and learning are being implemented. Collaborative provision will normally be included as part of a departmental review.
3. Student representatives from the department should be encouraged to participate fully in the department’s preparations for the audit; Student representatives may submit their own submission as an appendix to the department submission.
Details of the process
4. The following areas will be considered in a review: undergraduate and postgraduate schemes and modules; postgraduate research provision; collaborative provision; feedback systems; compliance with quality assurance processes; staff development and training.
5. A review will typically last up to two days and involve:
- Inspection of a self-evaluation document, relevant committee minutes and all other documentation concerned with teaching and learning in a department;
- Meeting(s) with Head of Department and staff with responsibility for different aspects of teaching and learning (e.g. examinations, student support, admissions);
- Meeting(s) with student representatives, undergraduate, taught postgraduate and research postgraduates
- Meeting(s) with other staff involved in quality assurance and/or teaching and learning (e.g. new staff members / administrators).
- Revalidation of provision (usually the second day will focus on the schemes)
6. Reviews will normally be chaired by a Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC Learning and Teaching or FPVC). Panel members will be given appropriate training and guidance. Membership will be discussed with the Chair of Academic Board, normally it should include:
- Chair (normally the PVC (Learning and Teaching) or a Faculty PVC);
- Associate Dean;
- Head of Department;
- External Academic Assessor (Academic Subject expert and if appropriate an industry expert);
- Academic Registrar or their representative;
- Student representative;
- A member of the Academic Registry will act as Secretary
7. Departments will be invited to nominate three professional colleagues from the UK who could act as an External Assessor for which a fee and expenses are paid. An External Assessor should not be a current External Examiner and should preferably have knowledge of quality assurance processes and procedures. The choice of external assessor will be made by the Chair and the Secretary in consultation with the department.
8. The following is an indicative schedule. The Chair and Secretary may meet with students ahead of the main meeting, and submit a written summary of the discussion for consideration by the Review Panel:
Day One – focus on quality assurance processes and feedback from staff and students
Private meeting of Panel
Meeting with the Head of Department
Private meeting of Panel
Meeting with senior academic staff with key roles in the department (It may be appropriate to see two separate groups)
Private Meeting of Panel
Meetings with students*
Private meeting of Panel
Meeting with other staff including administrative and part time staff involved with quality assurance and/or teaching and learning
Private meeting of Panel
Day Two – focus on revalidation of provision – may require a full day for large departments
Private meeting of Panel
Meetings with scheme leaders
Private meeting of Panel
Feedback to Head of Department
Lunch and Finish
9. A Departmental Review will consider:
Undergraduate and Postgraduate Schemes and Modules
(i) the standards of teaching and learning in modules.
(ii) Methods of assessment in their relationship to:
- learning outcomes
- course content
- learning strategies
- transferable skills
(iii) Student Progression and Achievement
(iv) Student Support and Guidelines
(v) Student representation
(vi) Teaching and Learning Resources
(vii) Progression between different levels of undergraduate courses (Level 0 through to level M in the case of Integrated Masters schemes), and the relationship between undergraduate and postgraduate modules.
(viii) Holistic nature of the course (including Joint Honours).
(ix) Teaching and learning innovations e.g. VLE
(x) Student Handbooks and other information provided to students
(xi) Any Franchising, collaborative or Distance Learning schemes
(xii) Welsh Medium teaching (if applicable)
(xiii) Placements or work experience (if applicable)
(xiv) Exchange and Erasmus
(xv) Support, training, supervision and monitoring of research students.
(i) External Examiners’ Reports
(ii) Feedback from Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (if applicable)
(iii) Student Module and Scheme Evaluations, reports on MEQs, Tell us Now
(iv) Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes
(v) KPIs including National Student Survey Results
The Review will also ensure that departments are complying with the University’s Regulations and the Academic Quality Handbook, and engaging with and implementing University policy, including, for example, the University’s Learning and Teaching Strategy.
Postgraduate Research provision and support
Staff Development and Training:
(i) University and Departmental induction and training, and the development of staff.
(ii) Peer Observation process.
10. The Academic Registry may invite the department to ask one or more currently serving external examiners to submit a written Report, in addition to their normal external examiner report ahead of the panel meeting.
11. The panel will be required to consider the following areas, in accordance with the Advice and Guidance in the UK Quality Code for Higher Education:
(i) Ensure the currency and validity of the schemes under review, in light of developing knowledge in the discipline area and any cumulative changes during the period since initial approval / previous review;
(ii) Evaluate the attainment of scheme learning outcomes by students, referring as appropriate to previous AMTS reports and data sets, and reports of external examiners;
(iii) Evaluate the continuing effectiveness of the curriculum and the assessment regime in relation to scheme learning outcomes;
(iv) Identify any areas of weakness, and make recommendations for appropriate actions.
12. Departments are expected to evaluate themselves against a set of statements in relation to quality and standards of teaching and learning, using a self evaluation template. The statements cover the following areas: academic schemes, teaching and learning, assessment and feedback, research students, student participation and experience, academic staff development, collaborative provision and external examiners.
13. The comments section should be used to reference supporting evidence and identify action points for quality enhancement and indicate the steps the department has identified that it needs to take to enhance quality and/or improve performance.
14. The central QA Team will work with the department to gather supporting documentation, and publish this informatio on the Academic Registry SharePoint site ahead of the Review meeting:
Documentation supporting quality assurance processes and feedback from staff and students
- Departmental Structure Roles and Responsibilities
- Minutes of departmental meetings and SSCCs for the previous year.
- Relevant departmental strategy documents e.g. Teaching & Learning Strategy; NSS Action Plan, Employability Strategy
- Quality Assurance documentation, e.g. Previous departmental review/audit reports and action plans; Period Scheme Review report, External Examiners’ Reports; External Examiner Reports, Annual monitoring forms; PSRB reports etc
- Evidence of Evaluation Mechanisms, e.g. NSS Action Plans, MEQs outputs etc
- Departmental Publications, e.g. Welcome Week or induction programme; Student handbooks for the current academic year; Staff Handbook(s)/guidance
- Other documentation, e.g. Annual Departmental Review Report prepared by the Planning Department including statistical data relating to applicants, students and staff; Key Information Sets.
Documentation supporting revalidation of schemes
- Updated Programme Specifications for all schemes under review.
- The Review Panel may request additional information if specific issues need to be explored further.
Outcome of a Departmental Periodic Review visit
15. Following the visit, a report will be prepared by the Panel Secretary which will highlight areas of good practice and identify recommendations for the department, for the faculty and for the University. The Pro Vice Chancellor may also invite the External Assessor to submit a written report. The Head of Department will be given an opportunity to comment on factual accuracy of a draft report, but is not expected to respond in full at this stage.
16. The panel will arrive at one of the following recommendations for each scheme or groups of schemes being revalidated:
(i) Unconditional revalidation;
(ii) Conditional revalidation, subject to minor modifications being fulfilled within a given time limit;
(iii) Major revisions, which may be required to be submitted to the relevant Faculty Academic Affairs Committee (FAAC);
(iv) Withdrawal or suspension.
In the case of a decision of withdrawal or suspension, the department will be asked to complete the relevant documentation and seek approval via the FAAC, making appropriate arrangements to ensure that all candidates who have already embarked on a scheme may complete their studies.
17. Departments will be expected to respond to issues identified in relation to revalidation of schemes within a set time period, to be reviewed by the Chair. If the Chair is satisfied that there are no significant issues of concern then the decision of the panel in respect of the schemes being revalidated shall be considered final and reported to the faculty. Where there are any issues of concern the final decisions shall be referred to the faculty and/or Academic Board.
18. In the case of a decision of withdrawal or suspension, the department will be asked to complete the relevant documentation and seek approval via the FAAC, making appropriate arrangements to ensure that all candidates who have already embarked on a scheme may complete their studies.
19. The department will be asked to submit an Action Plan within three months of the publication of the report, indicating how it intends to implement the recommendations of the Review Panel and provide progress reports to the Faculty on recommendations identified in the Action Plan.
20. The Report and Action Plan will be presented to Academic Board. If Academic Board is not satisfied with the progress or implementation of the action points, it can request the following:
(i) A visit to the department to discuss the action points in more detail
(ii) That a follow up internal audit be conducted within an agreed time frame.
2.9 Accreditation by Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies
1. Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs) set standards for, and regulate standards of entry into particular professions. The University engages with a number of PSRBs through formal accreditation of taught study schemes at undergraduate and postgraduate level. As part of its responsibility for the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Academic Board retains overall responsibility for managing all external review, validation and accreditation exercises relating to teaching activities within the University.
2. Departments retain responsibility for liaising with PSRBs for initial accreditation and for the management of accredited schemes within their subject areas. PSRB reports provide valuable external feedback on the quality and standards of schemes and departments are expected to take them fully into account as part of the Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes (see section 6 of the AMTS1 form).
3. Departments are required to confirm whether it is intended to seek accreditation for new schemes as part of the Scheme Approval Process. Initial accreditation of new schemes should normally take place as soon as possible after final approval, and Academic Board should be informed of the outcome of the accreditation exercise.
4. Faculties should ensure that copies of the following are submitted to the Academic Registry for consideration by Academic Board: all correspondence and documents submitted to PSRBs for accreditation exercises; correspondence and reports arising from accreditation exercises, and departmental responses or action plans. These should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
5. All reports arising from PSRB reviews will be considered by Academic Board. This is to ensure that any weaknesses identified in university procedures can be addressed, that departments have responded to any issues identified by PSRBs, and that any good practice is disseminated more widely within the University. Academic Board will follow up and monitor action arising from PSRB reports, and may require departments to prepare internal action plans in response to PSRB reports.
6. Academic Board will maintain a register of all schemes which are accredited by PSRBs. Faculty Associate Deans will be invited to review and confirm the accuracy of the register on an annual basis. Faculties are also expected to inform Academic Board of any changes to the status of scheme accreditations.
7. Departments are responsible for publishing full details of scheme accreditations to students, and must always keep applicants and current students informed of the status of the study scheme with regards to PSRB accreditation.
If changes occur to the mode of study, or if a new collaborative arrangement for a study scheme is put in place, the relevant departments should liaise with the PSRB to check whether the amended provision falls under current accreditation arrangements. Students must be informed of the status of the new or amended provision.
2.10 Departmental Quality Audit Questionnaire
1. Quality assurance processes are subject to periodic audit by Academic Board which invites academic departments to complete a Departmental Quality Audit (DQA) questionnaire, usually on an annual basis. This questionnaire serves as a checklist to remind departments about current policies, guidelines and procedures which are good practice. It is especially useful as a point of reference for staff within academic departments who may take on new roles and also as a means of highlighting changes to policies as they are refined and updated. It covers key areas of the AQH including assessment and feedback, monitoring of schemes and modules, personal tutoring arrangements, and student representation. The DQA asks departments to confirm that University policy and guidelines are being implemented, and issues arising out of the responses to the questionnaire are considered at a meeting of Faculty. The DQA questionnaire serves as an important supplement to the Departmental Periodic Review process at which departments are required to submit fully documentary evidence of their QA processes.
Chapter 2 reviewed: September 2020
2.11 Scheme Approval Panel: dates and deadlines for papers
Scheme Approval Panel
Deadline for papers
28 October 2020
14 October 2020
25 November 2020
11 November 2020
20 January 2021
6 January 2021
17 February 2021
3 February 2021
24 March 2021
10 March 2021
05 May 2021
22 April 2021
09 June 2021
26 May 2021
07 July 2021
23 June 2021
2.12 Template Forms
- Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes (AMTS) - Data Support
- Flow Chart for AMTS and EE Reports
- AMTS1 Appendix 1 Collaborative Provison
- AMTS1 Appendix 2 Franchise Provision
- AMTS 2
The Module Approval is currently being updated. Please contact email@example.com if you require a MAF
- Module Withdrawal or Suspension
- Minor Change Form
Schedule of Key Deadlines and Flow Charts
- Summary of Procedure - flow chart
- Timeline for Suspension / Withdrawal of a scheme
- Proposals - Two Year Planning Cycle
- Scheme Approval and Review Flowchart
Executive Approval Pathway
- Executive Approval Pathway - flowchart
- SDF1.1 Executive Approval Pathway - Strategic Approval (Portfolio Planning Committee and University Executive)
- SDF1.2 Executive Approval Pathway - Academic Overview
Non-Executive Approval Pathways
- Non-Executive Approval Pathway - flow chart
- SDF2 Non-Executive Approval pathway - new provision in an existing area
- SDF3 Non-Executive Approval pathway - minor change or restructure
- SDF4 Non-Executive Approval pathway - new JH or MM
Withdrawals, Suspensions and Change to Degree Scheme Titles
- SDF9.1 Programme Specification incl. mapping of learning outcomes
- SDF9.2 Programme Specification - with integrated year studying abroad
- SDF9.3 Programme Specification - with integrated year in industry
Departmental Periodic Review
Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Faculty/Departmental Quality Audit
- This is currently being updated.