Streamlining the University’s information on programme and course approval

Screen capture of ‘Policy and guidance on programme and course approval and management processes’ webpage (

In this post, Nichola Kett, Head of Quality Assurance and Enhancement Team in Academic Services, explains how she set about streamlining the University’s information on programme and course approval…

Over the summer of 2018, in response to feedback from staff, Academic Services undertook an exercise to simplify and consolidate information on programme and course approval from across the University, and to develop supporting practical guidance.

The consolidation exercise was part of a wider body of work that Academic Services and the Institute for Academic Development are undertaking to support those involved in Boards of Studies and programme and course design in general, which includes providing training sessions for Boards of Studies Conveners and Secretaries.

Developed in 2018, these training sessions provide conveners and secretaries with information about policy, regulations, business cases, and Competition and Markets Authority compliance, as well as clarifying the Board of Studies’ roles and responsibilities. Pedagogical training for developing and reviewing course and programme proposals is also provided at these sessions, which includes activities such as evaluating appropriate learning outcomes and understanding assessment and feedback challenges. There is also an informal Board of Studies network, which meets twice a year, and is open to anyone involved in Board of Studies work.

As part of the feedback from these Boards of Studies training sessions, a number of attendees highlighted that the current documentation on programme and course approval and management was located in many different locations. Furthermore, College Office contacts identified a lack of practical guidance on implementing the Policy.

The aims of the consolidation exercise were to:

  1. Support effective course and programme approval and management.
  2. Make it easier for staff to find relevant information.
  3. Support University-wide training for Boards of Studies Conveners and Secretaries.
  4. Assist the University to communicate to Schools key requirements.

Colleagues from College Offices, the Institute for Academic Development, the Timetabling Unit, the Careers Services, Academic Services, and the Students’ Association were all involved in developing content.

The result of the consolidation exercise is that simplified documentation, new online practical guidance, and links to supporting documentation are now available in one location on the University website.

Staff Feedback

Staff who attended Boards of Studies training sessions were asked for feedback on the consolidation exercise.  The majority felt that the consolidation exercise had improved the accessibility of programme and course approval and management documentation, and will help support effective course and programme approval and management.  Staff commented that guidance on writing course descriptors, learning outcomes, assessment and graduate attributes was missing.  This will be taken forward through an update of the relevant Institute for Academic Development webpages.  Overall, staff were very pleased with the outcomes of the consolidation exercise:

  • “Great work, this is so helpful!”
  • “This is very useful.  Thank you.”
  • “I think this will be helpful to staff submitting proposals as they won’t have to go searching around, nor do we have to provide lots of different links.  Thanks!”

And since its re-launch in October 2018, there has been over 1700 visitors to the new pages.

Future Work: Service Excellence Programme

The work undertaken in this consolidation exercise supports the longer-term aims of the Programme and Course Information Management (PCIM) strand of the Service Excellence Programme  which aims to simplify and standardise processes, improve the consistency of information, identify technical solutions, and clarify roles and responsibilities.

Nichola Kett

Nichola Kett is an Academic Policy Manager in Academic Services, where she oversees the implementation and management of the quality framework and manages the quality assurance and enhancement team. Nichola also engages with and contributes to key University learning and teaching activities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *