3. Programmes of study

3.1 Approval for New or Revised Programmes and Modules

There is a two-stage process for approving new and revised programmes and modules: strategic and operational.

3.1.1 Strategic Approval

  1. All strategic developments require the production of an outline proposal (template 3.1 or 3.2 from the Programme Quality Process Documentation page) which should be signed off by the Dean of School and the School AD(E&SE), and then submitted to Operations Committee for approval. This should be accompanied by a financial assessment form which is obtained from the Finance Office.
  2. The following developments are categorised as strategic:
    • all proposals for new programmes. i.e. new titles in the University's portfolio of programmes, even if they merely involve the reconfiguration of existing modules.
    • substantial revisions to an existing programme with resource or academic implications of a strategic nature. This includes:
      • a change of programme title or degree award
      • changes to the mode of delivery, such as a switch from conventional to distance learning methods across a whole programme
      • the relocation of teaching e.g. to a site off-campus.
      • proposals to terminate or suspend a programme
  1. Only once approval in principle has been given by Operations Committee are Schools expected to proceed to Operational Approval (see below) and develop detailed programme specifications, module specifications and evidence of consultations (see 3.1.6).

3.1.2 Operational Approval

  1. Operational approval is required for all new and revised programmes and modules. There are two categories: major and minor, with a process for each detailed below. Where there is doubt about whether the proposal/change is major or minor, the AD(E&SE) should ask the Chair of CSC to adjudicate.
  2. Operational proposals will be considered up to one year following strategic approval. Outside that time limit the procedure for strategic approval will need to be repeated.
  3. See the Policy for Consulting with Students about Programme and Module Changes for guidance.
  4. For Degree Apprenticeships, the two-stage PAP and CSC approval process (detailed below) is replaced with a single-stage approval process, called a Degree Apprenticeships Approval Panel (DAAP). Further guidance on this process is available from the Degree Apprenticeship Manager in the Academic Registry. Major proposals/changes

  1. Major proposals/changes require approval by a School Programme Approval Panel (PAP) and by Curriculum Sub-Committee (CSC), using following the guidance available from Section 3 of the Programme Quality Process Documentation. The proposal/change should be signed off within the School by the School AD(E&SE) on behalf of CSC following consideration by a School Programme Approval Panel and resolution of any issues identified by the Panel. The AD(E&SE) should then submit the proposal/change to CSC for approval via the Secretary. Copies of all major proposals will be circulated via CSC agenda papers to all AD(E&SE)s, who are invited to forward any observations to CSC.
  2. Major proposals/changes include:
    • all new or revised programmes and modules that have received strategic approval by Operations Committee (see 1.1.ii above)
    • proposals to change existing programme specifications and module specifications which have implications that warrant institution-wide consideration. For example, changes to:
      • progression rules
      • degree qualification rules
      • changes to the programme or module learning outcomes that will significantly change the nature of the programme or module
      • changes to the learning and teaching activities and the assessment activities for a programme that will significantly change how the programme is being delivered or assessed. Minor proposals/changes

  1. All proposals/changes not included in 1.2.1 are considered minor and are subject to the approval of the School AD(E&SE) on behalf of CSC, using the Minor Changes to Programme Specifications form available from the Annual Update webpage for programmes and the proposal form within the Online Module Update and Approval System for modules.

3.1.3 Immediate Effect Changes

  1. A proposal to make a change to a module or to a programme with immediate effect must be submitted for approval by the Chair of CSC using template 3.8 on the Programme Quality Process Documentation webpage. The proposer should indicate whether they consider the changes to be of such a nature as to require the consent of all the students currently registered on the module(s) or programme subject to change. The Chair of CSC or nominee will consider whether the proposal can be approved in principle, given formal approval or rejected. In the case of approval in principle being given, formal consultation should be undertaken with students/Schools/Professional Services and a response submitted to the Secretary to CSC using the forms attached to the proposal form.
  2. The outcome of this consultation will be considered by the Chair of CSC or their nominee. Where at least one student is not in agreement with the proposed change, or where a School or Professional Service raises an objection, the proposal will be considered by CSC or via Chair’s action and either given formal approval or rejected.
  3. Only in the most exceptional circumstances can modules be withdrawn once teaching has begun. Exceptional circumstances would include the unexpected absence of a key member of staff, but exclude non-viability of student numbers or sabbatical leave of key staff

3.1.4 Reporting Procedures

  1. Once approved, major proposals/changes are reported from CSC to LTC, and thence to Senate. When a major proposal/change results in the creation of a new programme, discontinuation or suspension of a programme, or change of programme title or award, the approval of Council is required.
  2. Minor changes are recorded by the Secretary to CSC.
  3. Schools are responsible for ensuring that approved specifications for all modules are entered into the central LUSI database and published via the University's web site. The positive intervention of each School is required to carry forward any module specification from one year to the next. There is an annual procedure for updating module specifications and programme specifications for the next academic session. The relevant pro-forma and guidance notes for the annual update are available as downloadable templates from the Annual Update webpage.
  4. Schools are responsible for informing provider and user Schools of all relevant curriculum changes once approved.

3.1.5 Publicising New Programmes

  1. A new programme may be publicised to potential applicants once strategic approval has been given by Operations Committee.
  2. Schools are not permitted to make offers and accept applications for admission on a programme until Operational Approval has been given by Learning and Teaching Committee.

3.1.6 Externality in the Programme Approval Process

  1. Schools are required to consult an external academic reviewerfor feedback on all new programme proposals and when making major changes to programmes. The academic reviewer:
    • should be a member academic staff from another UK higher education provider working in a relevant subject area
    • may be a current or former External Examiner of the University.
    • should not be a former member of staff or student, unless a period of at least three years has elapsed since they left the University
    • should not have any other links with the proposing School that may be perceived as compromising their independence.
  2. Schools are required to seek feedback from an external industrial reviewer for new / major changes to programmes where there is a clear link to an industrial / employment sector. That person should be employed within a relevant sector and / or in a position to represent the reviews of that sector.
  3. The University does not pay for external advisers as this role is seen as part of collegial collaboration between universities (or between universities and industry). However, there may be circumstances in which a School may wish to make a payment to an external adviser, for example in cases when the advisor is invited to attend a meeting at the University, in which case it is recommended that this should be in line with the payments made to External Examiners.

3.2 Programme Review

  1. The content and design of both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes is under constant review at School/Departmental level in the light of subject developments and changes in the external environment. The views of External Examiners, professional and accrediting bodies, companies providing industrial training placements and employers of the University's graduates, as well as the views of students, are all taken into account.
  2. Schools may be required by Senate to consider the content and viability of specific programmes and to produce reports. The evaluation of School performance linked with the planning process may also impact on programme provision.
  3. Routine evaluation of programmes is central to the assurance and enhancement of quality in learning and teaching. It is important that the evaluation process is carried out, owned and driven by the members of staff providing a particular programme, and that it is then used to improve the programme.
  4. Schools are required to review all programmes annually during Annual Programme Review (APR). In addition, major portfolio reviews may take place with a School to ensure that provision is strategically aligned and relevant to stakeholder needs. Joint degree programmes are included in APR in the School which has administrative responsibility.
  5. The University's procedures for APR are regularly reviewed to ensure that they accord with current QAA guidance. 
  6. Degree Apprenticeship provision is subject to the University’s normal APR, as detailed below.  However, in addition, the Degree Apprenticeship PMB annually undertakes a review of the provision to ensure that the University has sufficient oversight of Apprenticeship-specific elements of the provision, reporting to Senate as necessary.  

Annual Programme Review

  1. All Schools will be subject to Annual Programme Review (APR) each year. There will be one APR meeting per School that will last approximately one to two hours.
  2. Documentation will be collated by PQTP for Schools to evaluate in November of each year.  Schools will be asked to produce an evaluation document, reflecting on the data and identifying actions and timescales where appropriate.
  3. The APR meeting will occur in January / February.
  4. The APR panel for each visit will be constituted as follows:
    • Chair: PVC(E&SE)
    • Panel members: Head of PQTP
    • LSU Education Executive Officer 
    • Member of Enhanced Academic Practice
    • Secretary: Member of PQTP 
  1. The Panel will expect to meet the following from the School:
    • Dean of School
    • School AD(E&SE)
    • Learning & Teaching Co-ordinator(s)
    • Operations Manager
  1. In attendance will be the School Reps.
  2. The aim of the meeting will be to:
    • Satisfy the panel that the actions and timescales proposed by the School in their evaluation document are appropriate
    • Identify areas where the School would benefit from additional support/liaison outwith the APR meeting
    • Satisfy the panel that the School is monitoring and evaluating ‘quality’ data throughout the year as it becomes available
    • Agree School and institutional learning and teaching priorities for the year ahead 
  1. Learning and Teaching Committee will annually receive a report of the APR process that will enable it to monitor and evaluate the outcomes and the process.
  2. The School will report to the next year's APR on action taken.
  3. Additional requirements in relation to Initial Teacher Training (ITT) programmes are detailed in the Teacher Training section.

3.3 Assessment process

This is now covered in section 12. Assessment and Feedback.

Assessment and feedback →

3.4 Coursework

This is now covered in section 12. Assessment and Feedback.

Assessment and feedback →

3.5 Feedback to Students on their Work and Progress

Giving feedback to students on how well they are doing, and why, is an essential part of learning and teaching activity. Feedback enables students to assess their progress, to gauge their success in understanding and dealing with the subject matter to a required standard, and to get directions on how to improve. Giving feedback to students after assessment is a standard practice; engaging in activities that generate feedback during the teaching and learning process is a valuable practice.

All module specifications include a field that sets out all the methods of giving and generating feedback within the module. To help staff complete this field, a drop-down menu is provided containing a number of stock statements, representing a wide range of feedback practices from which the appropriate ones can be selected; there are also free-text boxes for comments or additional methods. The menu is in two sections:

  • Feedback given in response to assessed work
  • Developmental feedback generated through the teaching and learning process

The intention is to ensure that students’ expectations concerning feedback are managed, and that students recognise that feedback is not just written comments on assessed work.

In the case of modules assessed entirely by examination, departments are required to provide some form of generic feedback to students on the examination, and encouraged to provide the same sort of feedback in the case of modules where 50% or more of the module mark is accounted for by examination. 

In all cases, Schools are required to publish deadlines for the return of assessed work and feedback to students. This will normally be three weeks from the submission deadline. In cases where the three week deadline cannot be met, a reasonable deadline will be set and communicated to all students. Schools will have mechanisms for monitoring and managing this process.

3.6 Registration, Attendance, Leave of Absence, Withdrawal and Transfer

Registration, Attendance, Leave of Absence, Withdrawal and Transfer are governed by Regulation IX.

A Flowchart of Process for Leave of Absence/Termination of Studies (PDF) shows the scenarios regarding Leave of Absence or Termination of Studies for students failing to participate in their programme.

3.6.1 Protocol for investigating students who are failing to participate in their programme

Where a student has missed two consecutive participation checks and/or where participation has become a concern for another reason, Schools/departments should begin investigating whether or not the student is still participating in their programme of study. The following list is a guide* of what steps Schools/departments might wish to take in order to make contact with the student:

  1. Email student giving five working days to make contact and arrange to see someone in the School/department or give reasonable explanation of absence. Letter 1 (below) may be used as the template for this.
  2. If student fails to make contact within five working days, the School/department should write to the student in accordance with Regulation IX, setting out actions required for adequate participation.
    Letter 2 may be used as the template for this.
  3. The School/department should notify Academic Registry (Student Office) that the student has been contacted under paragraph 23 of Regulation IX.
  4. Upon notification under point 3, the Academic Registry (Student Office) will consult with other support services to try to make contact with the student (see below).
  5. If the student subsequently contacts the School/department, then Academic Registry must be notified so that other checks/procedures can be halted.

Where a student has been reported to Academic Registry as potentially failing to participate in their programme, the following checks will be made:

  1. If the student is living in hall, warden will be contacted to establish whether they have been seen recently.  Wardens will be expected to encourage students to report to their School/department immediately. If there are reasons which the warden is aware of which prevent the student from doing so, either the School/department or Academic Registry must be alerted.
  2. If the student is not living in hall, a Community Warden will be contacted to establish whether they have been seen recently. The Community Warden will be expected to encourage student to report to School/department immediately. If there are reasons which the Community Warden is aware of which prevent the student from doing so, either the School/department or Academic Registry must be alerted.
  3. The Heads of Student Services (Counselling and Disability Services, Student Support Centre) will be contacted to see if they are aware of the student in question. Details of individual circumstances will not be expected to be disclosed, but colleagues will be expected to encourage students to contact their School/department or Academic Registry to discuss their situation. In exceptional circumstances, staff in Student Services may recommend to the School/department and Academic Registry that the student be placed on a Leave of Absence rather than proceeding with the termination of studies procedure.
  4. Where a student is not known to Student Services, an email (see email 1) will be sent by the Academic Registry on behalf of Student Services alerting them to support available. Where a student contacts Student Services in response to this email, Student Services must inform Academic Registry and termination of studies process may be halted.
  5. Where student cannot be contacted via any of the above processes, Academic Registry will commence termination of studies procedure in accordance with paragraph 25 of Regulation IX.

* this is the minimum that Schools/departments are required to do. If they wish to add in additional steps such as chasing by phone and letter, then they are welcome to do so.


3.6.2 Templates for failure to participate letters / email


  • LETTER 1


    It has come to my attention that you may not be participating fully with your programme of study. As a School/department we are concerned for your welfare as well as your academic achievement and we would like to give you the opportunity to discuss your participation with <<appropriate member of staff>> so that we can see whether the University can provide any support for you.

    Ultimately, you have a duty to the University, your School/department and yourself to fully participate with your studies in order to perform to the best of your ability.  I realise that it may be a shock to find yourself in this position, however it is essential that you recognise the gravity of your situation and contact us so that we can work together to address the situation.  

    Please contact <<appropriate member of staff>> by <<date>> so that we can prevent this situation escalating into the University terminating your studies for failure to participate.

    Yours sincerely etc


  • LETTER 2


    Your continued lack of participation with your programme of study is causing concern. Past experience indicates that there is a strong correlation between non-participation and failure to gain credit in modules. 

    You were offered the opportunity to discuss your situation with <<appropriate member of staff>> on <<date>>  but failed to attend the meeting.  We are offering you one further opportunity to discuss with <<appropriate member of staff>> any circumstances which may be affecting your attendance.  We require you to attend an appointment to see <<appropriate member of staff>> within <<time>>.  You can do this by...

    It is in your interest to reply to this letter promptly.  If we do not hear from you within <<time>>, we will be obliged to inform the Academic Registrar who may consider it appropriate to terminate your studies for Failure to Participate (as detailed under University Regulation IX.23).

    If your studies are terminated the University will be obliged to notify the Student Loans Company, your Local Authority, other sponsors, Charnwood Borough Council (for council tax exemption purposes) and UK Visas and Immigration as appropriate. In addition to this you will not receive the award for which you initially registered.

    It is not too late to get in touch so that we can discuss whether there are other alternatives to having your studies terminated.

    Yours sincerely etc


  • EMAIL 1

    Your School/department has been in contact with you on a number of occasions recently to raise concerns about your lack of participation with your academic programme, but so far you have not responded. If you feel that there are any health or welfare issues that you would like some support with from staff in Student Services, please contact Manuel Alonso, Director of Student Services (tel: 222050, email M.Alonso@lboro.ac.uk), who will put you in touch with one of his colleagues who will be able to help. If you do not respond within five working days, the University will have no alternative but to take steps to terminate your studies at Loughborough.

3.7 Externally Sponsored Programmes, Professional Accreditation and Industrial/Professional Training

The University has established a number of programmes with the benefit of sponsorship from industry and commerce. Initial Teacher Training is offered as a Partnership with schools (see section on Teacher Training). All self-financing programmes are subject to the University's normal scrutiny and review procedures and must comply with the usual rules governing matters such as the appointment of External Examiners to ensure that controls on quality are carefully maintained.

Over sixty of the University's programmes are accredited by external bodies or recognised by professional institutions, making possible various exemptions from the examinations of the body concerned or enabling graduates to apply for membership. Accreditation and recognition procedures provide a major element of peer assessment and review and ensure that external considerations are taken regularly into account in programme content and design. Where an issue is raised in an accreditation report which requires action beyond the School's remit, the matter is taken up with either the AD(E&SE) if it is an academic matter, who may refer it to Learning and Teaching Committee, or the Dean if it is a resource matter, who may refer it to Operations Committee.

A number of Schools have established joint advisory committees with industrial partners to ensure that their teaching and research are relevant to companies' needs.

The majority of the University's programmes offer the sandwich structure, when students normally spend the whole of their third year undertaking professional training or international experience, as an alternative to the traditional three-year full-time pattern. The Diploma in Industrial Studies (DIS), Diploma in Professional Studies (DPS) or Diploma in International Studies (DIntS) is awarded to students successfully completing their professional training or international experience and satisfying the academic requirements for the award of their degree. The University's Code of Practice on Placement Learning, provides information for students and companies, together with the University's Health and Safety Policy on the Placement of HE students.

3.8 Service Teaching

3.8.1 The Principles

  1. Of the many considerations that shape service teaching policy, the most important is the need to ensure that the quality of provision is “fit to requirements”, in terms of programme content, quality of teaching and the overall learning experience of our students.
  2. Responsibility for each of our programmes rests unambiguously with a named School. That responsibility extends to all aspects of quality, currency and viability.
  3. With responsibilities go rights. In a programme-based university like Loughborough, a host School has ‘ownership rights’ in regard to its programmes which other schools and the University as a whole should respect wherever possible.
  4. Schools are not, however, sovereign in these matters, all of which are subject to institutional policy and oversight - hence the roles of Curriculum Sub-Committee, Learning & Teaching Committee and Senate.
  5. It would be neither efficient (financially) nor effective (in terms of quality, student choice etc) for Schools to aim for self-sufficiency in programme provision – hence the existence of joint honours programmes and service teaching arrangements.
  6. The preferred ethos is that of “willing buyer, willing seller”, with host and providing Schools working together to ensure high quality, cost-effective learning and teaching for our students.
  7. It does not follow that Schools should enjoy a monopoly of provision in their areas of specialism. For various reasons, more than one School may be able to claim specialist expertise in a given area. There may well be arguments why, in a particular case, a subject should be taught other than by a “specialist” School – most obviously when it is important to locate the treatment of the subject firmly within the wider context of the programme of which it forms part. The views of a host School wishing to pursue such an approach must be given due weight.
  8. It is the balance of advantage between these two academic considerations – “specialisation” and “contextualisation” - that should chiefly inform decisions on where particular subjects are to be taught. However, it should not be assumed that only the “specialist” School possesses the necessary specialist expertise, or that only the home School is capable of programme contextualisation. Each case must be judged on its merits
  9. As well as the academic considerations of specialisation and contextualisation, there are two further, less purely academic, considerations that impact on service teaching policy – though in opposite directions. One is that service teaching can help a School to generate economies of scale and scope in its areas of expertise: this is particularly relevant to the Business School and Mathematical Sciences. The University’s aspirations for such Schools and their subject areas – in research and income generation as well as in teaching - could be undermined if they were to lose their service teaching franchises.
  10. The other consideration is that service teaching arrangements should not be dysfunctional from a student perspective. Providing Schools should be willing and able to offer the same degree of student support as host Schools.
  11. Financial considerations should be secondary to pedagogic ones. Ideally, our internal resource allocation model should be neutral, providing neither an incentive nor a disincentive to Schools to retain or surrender load. In the real world, however, a neutral model is unattainable. This is because the marginal costs of teaching a particular subject can vary immensely, from virtually zero to the full salary and overhead costs of a lecturer, depending on whether or not a School has teaching capacity at its disposal. The opportunity costs will also vary, depending, for example, on the research capabilities of the lecturer concerned.
  12. These arguments are reflected in the arrangement whereby host Schools retain 10% of any load they export to providing Schools. The 10 per cent figure is in most cases a generous contribution to School teaching overheads (i.e. those teaching-related costs which are not module-specific) – especially when applied to modules on band ‘B’ programmes, since most administrative costs arise whatever price band a programme is in.
  13. No School can exert ownership rights indefinitely over any given teaching arrangement – whether that be a service teaching commitment or the teaching of another School’s specialism to its own students. All such arrangements must be amenable to review and abrogation, after due notice has been given (though in practice, financial compensation might be offered in lieu of notice in the interests of ensuring a clean break).
  14. The rights of a host School to retrieve service teaching cannot be extended to a provider School seeking to discontinue (core) service teaching for another School. Permission to do so will normally be given only if the host School agrees that it can fill the gap or make acceptable changes to syllabus, which may mean deferring any such changes until existing cohorts have passed through the system. Here the overriding consideration must be the interests of students registered on the programme.
  15. Related matters such as the withdrawal of options by a providing School or the redesignation of a core module as optional by a host School need to be handled in the same general spirit. Schools offering electives to the students of other Schools must be entitled to withdraw them if they become unviable; but they should ensure that their counterparts are aware of their policy and have an opportunity to comment on decisions which would adversely affect their students. This would mirror the requirement that School proposing to change the status of another School’s modules from core to optional consult them first.
  16. The “governance” arrangements relevant to service teaching need to be clear, coherent and understood by all. They should seek to encourage mutual agreement between Schools wherever possible, within a clear overall policy framework and with clear mechanisms for resolving differences.
  17. The approach enshrined in these principles can best be termed that of a “regulated free market”, with Senate and Council largely devolving the responsibility for the “regulation” to Learning & Teaching Committee (in respect of pedagogic considerations) and Operations Committee (in respect of wider policy and resource considerations).

3.8.2 The Procedures

  1. Except as stated below, proposals relating to service teaching arrangements will continue to be handled in the same way as at present, with Associate Deans (Teaching), Curriculum Sub-Committee, Learning & Teaching Committee, Operations Committee and Senate playing their established roles.
  2. CSC will limit its consideration to the academic merits of proposals in their own right, that is to say, without seeking to adjudicate between the claims of rival providers.
  3. Where a School wishes to amend existing service teaching arrangements and cannot reach agreement on this with its partner School, the issue will be considered by LTC which will seek to apply the principles set out in this paper in forming its conclusions and recommendations.
  4. If wider issues of academic policy or financial viability arise, these will be considered in the first instance by Operations Committee. Either LTC or Operations Committee may decide to bring proposals to Senate if the nature of the issue warrants it.
  5. Operations Committee will not normally approve academic appointments whose viability would involve the transfer of teaching responsibilities from another School.
  6. Periodic programme review provides an opportunity for Schools to look at the effectiveness of existing service teaching arrangements, and at the same time to consider whether teaching activities which they undertake could be handled more efficiently or effectively by another School.
  7. Termination of a service teaching arrangement shall be by one year’s notice, although University consents need not have been received at the time the notice is given. In lieu of notice, Operations Sub-Committee may allow a host School to assume the teaching at the start of the following year, with the allocation of the associated income between the two Schools for that year to be determined by Operations Committee.

June 2001

(edited November 2007)

3.9 Sensitive Content Guidelines

Loughborough University is committed to providing an environment in which students can study effectively and safely. The University is also committed to freedom of speech and academic freedom. This means that, on occasion, modules will necessarily cover sensitive, difficult and challenging topics. These guidelines are intended to support discussion around such difficult topics and to enable students to make informed decisions around module choices in order to support their self-management. 

Sensitive content refers to any content which a student may find to be difficult, sensitive or challenging. The scope of topics that are potentially sensitive will vary according to the nature of the subject and the students taking that subject. 

If the following guidelines are followed, staff should feel confident to teach and assess topics and material that might be deemed sensitive. 

3.9.1 Content alerts: 

  • For modules containing potentially sensitive materials which can be identified in advance there should be a ‘content alert’ on the module specification so that students are aware of this when making their module choices. This not only gives students the opportunity to ‘opt-out’ but also to prepare themselves for modules with content they may find more difficult. 
  • Content alerts should also be included in module handbooks. 
  • The content alert should consist of a ‘tick-list’ which allows the module organiser to identify the nature of the sensitive content prior to modules choices being made. The following list of sensitive topics must be identified if they are due to feature in lectures or other teaching material. 
  • Sexual Violence and Assault
  • Emotional and financial abuse (including emotional manipulation and neglect)
  • Mental illness (including eating disorders and self-harm)
  • Warfare
  • Traumatic life experiences
  • Extreme violence
  • Death (including suicide) and bereavement
  • Serious physical illness
  • Drug and substance misuse
  • Potentially offensive and taboo language and visual performance material (including time-specific or cultural homophobia, racism, misogyny & ableism)
  • Potentially sacrilegious or blasphemous content
  • Other- to be specified 

The above list is not exhaustive and staff should consider and, if necessary, identify other material that could be sensitive. 

  • If the content of a module changes to include sensitive content following module choices being made, students should be made aware of this as soon as possible. 
  • The ‘content alert’ could also be included alongside Learn materials. 
  • Students could be reminded of the ‘content alert’ at the start of the lecture containing the sensitive material. 

3.9.2 Delivering sensitive content: 

  • Sensitive content could be discussed with students during the introduction to the module. 
  • When introducing sensitive content the Tutor could inform the students that whilst steps have been taken to alert students to content that may be sensitive; 
  • The material is there for quality/pedagogical reasons
  • Some material not highlighted in the content alert might be perceived as sensitive by some individuals
  • Personal experience (of sensitive material or specific events) can enhance a student’s understanding and subsequent assessed performance - sensitive situations are not always detrimental
  • Descriptions of any disorders/experiences etc. are generalisations and should not be seen as an accurate depiction of any individual’s personal experience of a disorder or as a means of self-diagnosis
  • Tutors delivering the material are academics, not counsellors or clinicians, and that students affected by any course content should seek support through the appropriate support services
  • Strict ethical guidelines prevent Tutors from offering counselling or advice beyond their own professional competence. 
  • Students could be allowed to leave a lecture containing sensitive material without attention being drawn to them. 
  • Where possible and in situations where sensitive content only features in a limited part of a lecture/module students could be given the freedom to disengage with the material e.g. by not participating in class discussion or activity. 
  • Where possible, opportunities for students to leave could be created and content placed strategically e.g. after a break so that students can choose to sit-out of part of a lecture without missing all of the content. 

3.9.4 Offering opportunities to discuss sensitive content: 

  • Students could be given the opportunity to raise concerns about the nature of any sensitive content and the way this may affect them either with the Tutor or another identified member of staff prior to delivery of the content. 
  • Students could also be given the opportunity to speak to the Tutor or another identified member of staff following delivery of sensitive content if this has affected them personally and may impact on the rest of the module or associated coursework. 

3.9.5 Access to sensitive content: 

  • Sensitive content could be made accessible by Lecture Capture where possible. 
  • In modules containing sensitive content students could be encouraged to read the secondary materials first to encourage looking at the content more objectively. 

3.9.6 Students opting to work on sensitive content that personally affects them 

(this applies to situations where a student is able to choose the topic/theme for their work) 

  • Students could be encouraged to inform their Tutor in advance if they are choosing to produce work containing sensitive content that relates to them personally. 
  • Students could be informed of the below when deciding whether to choose a sensitive topic that relates to them personally for their work: 
  • Producing work on sensitive topics can be productive and students’ personal experiences can be really valuable to the work they produce, however, producing work about personal experiences to an imposed deadline may cause psychological pressure which the student may not need at that particular time.
  • The marker will be identifying ‘areas for improvement’ and offering critique. The student may want to consider whether they are ready for their personal experiences to be assessed according to the marking criteria.
  • More than one marker may see their work and offer critique on this. 
  • There may be opportunities in the future for the student to produce work on a sensitive topic, rather than at a time when it may not be in the best interests of their mental health/ wellbeing. 

3.9.7 Supervision of final year projects/dissertations 

  • Students considering and opting for projects that include qualitative methods or interaction with vulnerable populations should be made aware of the potential for exposure to sensitive information as well as appropriate support mechanisms and what to do if inappropriate material is disclosed to them. 

3.9.8 Signposting to support services 

  • Where sensitive content has been identified within course materials, details of relevant support services should be given alongside Learn materials, in the module handbook and at the end of the lecture. 
  • If a student chooses to produce work based on sensitive content that personally affects them they could be contacted by the Tutor/ Marker with details of relevant support services. 
  • Students affected by sensitive content should be encouraged to seek support from relevant support services rather than the Tutor teaching the content. 

3.9.10 Assessment of sensitive material 

  • The assessment of sensitive material should be carefully considered, especially for compulsory modules or modules where all lectures contain sensitive material. 
  • Students should be made aware at the start of a module that sensitive topics might be assessed. 
  • Where practicable module leaders could consider including sufficient choices of questions so that a question on a sensitive topic could be avoided. 
  • It may be appropriate to consider alternative assessments for students who are personally affected by sensitive material. This should be done in consultation with the student and relevant support services. 
  • Feedback on assessments involving sensitive content should be carefully considered, in particular if personal experience is incorporated. Feedback may need to draw attention to the purpose of academic assessment. 

3.9.11 Other recommendations: 

  • Group discussions should be managed in a sensitive way e.g. ground rules/working rules could be set so that if sensitive subjects are raised during group discussions this is done so with consideration to individuals who may be adversely affected. 

Examples of the types of ground rules which could be introduced are:

  1. Students do not have to offer comment if they feel uncomfortable about doing so 
  2. Students are free to leave the seminar/tutorial/lecture if necessary 
  3. Students should frame their comments in a constructive manner, refraining from shutting down another person, and listening to what they have to say before replying 
  4. Students should keep everything discussed confidential within the group 
  • In some instances it may be appropriate to change, delay or cancel a lecture or seminar due to content mirroring or relating to recent adverse events whether within the student community or externally e.g. the death of a student or staff member, a terror attack or incident of serious violence. 
  • Students should be encouraged to read the module specifications carefully and identify if a module contains sensitive material which might be challenging to them personally. They should be encouraged to discuss this with the module leader and consider whether the module is the right choice for them. 
  • Students opting to take placements (especially those within a clinical setting) need to be made aware that they might be exposed to sensitive situations or materials unexpectedly. 
  • Module feedback could include a question regarding sensitive content e.g. “If there was any content on this module that you found distressing, did you feel this was handled in a sensitive, appropriate manner?” 

3.9.12 Support for Tutors teaching sensitive content 

  • Tutors should feel safe and supported when delivering potentially sensitive material. If a Tutor feels they are affected by the topics they teach they can refer to the support available to staff which is detailed at https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/hr/support/



June 2019