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Learning and Teaching Handbook

3.3.1 Programme Approval Aims

Please refer to the New Programme Approval Flowchart for a summary of this process.

The process ensures that sustainability and resourcing issues are considered alongside the academic rationale for new degree programme proposals. This includes consideration of:

  • the viability of the programme in terms of market and likely numbers of entrants;
  • the resources required (teaching staff, support staff, IT, library and subject-specific laboratory or similar resources);
  • the contribution the proposed programme will make to achieving the aims of the University Strategy;
  • the views of other departments which might be involved in or affected by the introduction of the programme.

The process enables the University to ensure that the programme has appropriate:

  • aims and learning outcomes;
  • alignment with the University's qualification and level descriptors (and thereby the national expectations set out in the UK Quality Code), and with any relevant subject benchmarks;
  • comparability of standards with programmes elsewhere in the University including reference to the general regulations of the University, University-wide criteria for degree classification;
  • key skills provision; and
  • arrangements for student support, particularly for students from disadvantaged or under-represented groups.

As part of the process, the University will consider how curriculum design (including modes of learning and assessment) ensures that programme aims and learning outcomes are met. The process involves consultation with students, an external subject specialist and, where relevant, professional bodies;

The programme approval process has two phases, which will follow on from initial discussions within the planning round.

Stage 1: the department develops a New Degree Programme Business Case Form, setting out the strategic and business rationale, and outline academic case, for review by UEC and then Education Committee.

Stage 2: the department develops a full academic proposal, consulting with students and an external subject specialist, for review by a Programme Approval Panel and then QSSC.

The responsibility for the programme approval process rests with Education Committee and its Quality and Standards Sub-Committee (QSSC), operating under the delegated authority of Senate and reporting to Senate on all new programme approvals. Consequently, the Programme Approval Panels that consider the full academic proposal, and make the recommendation as to whether a proposed programme should be approved, are chaired by a member of Education Committee or QSSC and include faculty representatives.