2.1 Introduction to Development and Review


1. Section 2 of the Handbook describes the University’s processes for the design, development and approval of new programmes of study, and its annual and periodic exercises to monitor and review existing provision at scheme and subject level.

Curriculum development

2. New schemes and modules should be developed within academic departments, drawing on good practice in curriculum design, and taking account of QAA level descriptors and subject benchmark statements. Consultation with students, and external consultation with external examiners, subject specialists, PSRB bodies or other advisory boards should take place at an early stage of scheme development, and documentary evidence of this process will be considered by a standing scheme approval panel. Departments should consider the staffing implications of any new developments to safeguard the resilience of the portfolio, and also take account of the two-year planning cycle to ensure that the scheme approval process can be completed in good time to ensure effective marketing.

3. In designing a new study scheme or module, departments will need to take account of the criteria as detailed in the Scheme Development Forms (SDF) and Module Approval Forms. These will be scrutinised as part of the approval processes which are outlined within Section 2 of the AQH.

Consumer Law and changes to existing provision

4. In March 2015, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published advice for higher education providers to help them comply with their consumer law obligations. This advice sets out the CMA’s views on compliance in a number of areas, including the provision of information for undergraduate students. QAA have prepared a practical guide that aims to help providers present good quality information to prospective students, including entry requirements, course structure and delivery, module information, assessment and feedback, and course costs. This is available at: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20180319121228/http://www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/provinfo/

5. In light of CMA advice, faculties will need to plan carefully before making any changes to existing schemes and their constituent modules. Where changes are proposed as part of annual monitoring or periodic review exercises, or in response to student or external feedback mechanisms, departments will need to consult with current students (including those who have accepted an offer but who have not yet commenced their studies) before the changes are considered for approval. The exact nature of this consultation will depend on the extent of the proposed changes but could consist of one of the following. Departments should consult the Academic Registry QA team for further guidance: qaestaff@aber.ac.uk:

(i) Consultation through the Staff-Student Consultative Committee

(ii) Consultation with individual students by email, with responses to be sent to Student Academic Representatives for a collective discussion at SSCC

(iii) Consultation with individual students by email, requiring agreement by all students.

6. In cases where option modules may not be offered due to insufficient interest or staff unavailability, this must be made clear to students in published information, and students must be advised of any changes to available modules as soon as possible so that they can choose an alternative. This will be made clear to students in departmental handbooks, which included a common statement at university level.

Programme Specifications

7. The UK Quality Code for Higher Education requires degree awarding bodies to provide definitive information about their awards. This is provided in the programme specification, which provides details of the knowledge, understanding, skills and other attributes that students will have developed on successful completion and the teaching and assessment activities that support their learning.

8. Academic Registry is responsible for maintaining programme specifications online, and departments will review their accuracy as part of the Annual Monitoring of Taught Schemes. The programme specifications will also be subject to external scrutiny as part of the Periodic Review of Schemes.

9. A template is provided for their initial development and approval as part of scheme approval or Periodic Scheme Review. For schemes with an integrated year in industry or year studying abroad, a separate template is provided which includes generic learning outcomes. These are published in Section 2.14 of the AQH. Guidelines for writing programme specifications have been prepared by QAA: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/quality-code/the-existing-uk-quality-code/part-a-setting-and-maintaining-academic-standards (Chapter A2 supersedes the Guidelines for Preparing Programme Specifications which are now replaced by Expectation A2.2) and by HEA (https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/new_writing_programme_specification.pdf).

Marketing of new schemes

10. The University has adopted the following policy for the marketing and publication of information on new schemes.

11. New schemes will not be advertised on the University’s course search pages or made available to applicants through UCAS until final approval. No exceptions will be made to this policy.

12. All new schemes may be advertised in the printed University prospectus ‘subject to approval’ after initial proposals have been considered by the Portfolio Planning Committee.

13. In exceptional cases, PPC may allow other means of marketing ‘subject to approval’. This would allow departments to produce printed brochures or display information through departmental webpages or social media. This would not however extend to UCAS or the University’s course pages. To seek PPC approval for wider marketing ‘subject to approval’, departments will need to complete an application as part of the Scheme Development form (SDF). PPC will make its decision based on the following criteria:

For schemes taught at Aberystwyth:

(i) At least 75% of the new scheme is already being taught through existing modules

(ii) All resources are in place for the delivery of the new scheme

(iii) The scheme title has been established and will not be subject to further amendments.

Marketing ‘subject to approval’ will not be approved if it is considered that the scheme title may be subject to further discussion and amendments at the panel stage of the scheme approval process.

For schemes to be delivered through a collaborative partnership:

(i) The partnership arrangement is already approved

(ii) The scheme is based on established provision at Aberystwyth and will not involve any adaptation of content or change of title.

Published information

14. Departments are responsible for maintaining accurate and current information on their courses. Guidance on how to publish information on courses is available through the Web Team pages: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/it-services/web/courses/. Information on courses is published at https://courses.aber.ac.uk with detailed scheme structures by academic year at https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/study-schemes/ . Details on individual modules are indexed by academic year and by Department at https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/modules/.