Academic Quality Procedures Handbook

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.