Staff Handbook: 3.2.1 Programme Quality Assurance Procedures


1. Programme Approval

Creating a new programme is a relatively uncommon event. University procedures have been aligned with QAA guidelines and will undoubtedly be changed as necessary in future to maintain this alignment. The definitive guide can be found via the Academic Services Programme Development and Approval web site.

Briefly, typical stages involved in creating a new programme are:

  1. The first stage is the preparation of a Plan to Develop a New Programme within the School. The idea is discussed informally within the School and then put to Teaching Committee for discussion. Depending on the timing of committee meetings, this approval should be endorsed by School Committee. The academic case for a new programme is paramount, but other important issues will be staffing, timetabling and resource implications and preparing evidence to show that there is a market for the programme. It will also be necessary to consider accreditation issues.
  2. The plan is considered by the College Quality and Enhancement Committee (QAEC).
  3. Once the Plan has been approved, the School prepares a formal New Programme Proposal Form as well as New Module Proposal Forms for any new modules involved. The Head of Academic Programmes will assist in this process and will normally be the formal contact with Academic Services. Again depending on the timing of committee meetings, the proposal will be put to Teaching Committee and then to School Committee.
  4. The proposal is passed on to the College Quality and Enhancement Committee (QAEC) for approval.
  5. Academic Services will then process the proposal which will eventually be put to PARC for approval. Advertising, admissions, etc. cannot proceed until this approval is granted. Given that the proposal has been endorsed by the School and College, the issues at this stage are more likely to be related to the quality of the documentation, e.g. the Learning Outcomes of the programme, the Module Descriptions of any new modules, etc.
  6. If the programme is to be accredited, then documentation will have to be prepared and sent to the BCS and/or IET at the appropriate time.
  7. This process must be completed 18 months before the programme is due to start

2. Programme Documentation

Programmes require a Programme Specification. The major components of a Programme Specification are probably the Programme Outcomes (=Programme Learning Outcomes) and the detailed content in terms of modules. Rules for progression from one stage (normally programme-year) to another are also important.

Within the School, Programme Specifications are made available to staff and students via appropriate web pages, linked from the index page for degree programmes. Generally there will be one or more pages giving a description of the programme, including its aims and the Programme Outcomes, plus a page for each programme-year.

Academic Services also maintain a web site with descriptions of degree programmes. Although every effort is made to ensure that these are consistent, within the School of Computer Science the School's web site should be the primary source of reference.

3. Programme Review

3.1 Introduction

Programme Review consists of two processes: Vice Chancellor's Review and Annual Review. The Vice Chancellor's Review takes place every five years and comprises the detailed and rigorous review of every programme offered in a School.

At the school level additional processes operate:

1 Modules are reviewed using the procedures described in 3.2.2 Module Quality Assurance Procedures. This includes the collation of responses to student questionnaires, administered twice a semester, and biennial Teaching Observation reports.

2 The twice yearly Curriculum Review Meetings (see 2.2 Management Structures, §9.3) carry out a rolling review of programmes and years.

3 The Quality Assurance & Enhancement Committee (QAEC) monitors and reviews assessment processes and their outcomes for all modules.

4 QAEC considers External Examiners' reports and any immediate changes needed as a consequence.

5 The Industrial Liaison Panel seeks industrial input into the design and operation of the School's programmes.

Other information required for these reviews includes:

  • Statistics for recruitment, retention, progression, degree classifications, employment, etc.
  • Evaluations of programmes by graduates, employers, accreditation bodies, etc.

3.2 Annual Review

The June Curriculum Review Meeting also considers all modules and programmes as the key part of the Annual Review.

Each module and programme is considered in turn, bringing together issues raised elsewhere when specific aspects of them were considered in detail (e.g., in module preparation and completion reports, teaching observations, module questionnaire responses, Module Boards, Examination Boards, External Examiner comments and reports, Comprehensive Programme Review, Teaching Committee meetings, Quality Assurance & Enhancement Committee meetings, and Staff Student Consultative Committee meetings). Discussion concentrates on matters of potential concern. QAEC deals with any identified issues that have not already been dealt with elsewhere.