2.2 Module Approval

1. The University’s Module Approval Process is overseen by the Academic Board. Faculties are responsible for approving new and restructured modules, minor changes to modules and the suspension and withdrawal of modules. Proposals for new and restructured modules should be made online using the APEX Module Management system and submitted to the relevant Faculty for consideration. Proposals should be scrutinised by an independent academic member of staff; the reviewer will be nominated as part of the module approval workflow and they should complete the review section before the module is considered by the appropriate faculty committee. Following approval by the Faculty, the Student Administration Office will be notified of the changes which will be recorded in the module database. Proposals for Distance Learning modules based on existing campus-based modules, and Welsh-Medium modules which are direct replicas of an approved module, or vice-versa, should be made using the APEX system.

2. All new and restructured modules should be approved by Faculties and information updated on the module and scheme database for the following academic session by the end of the spring term or no later than 31 March where the spring term ends after this date.

3. Minor changes should be done using the APEX Module Management system but will not require an internal reviewer, for example a change of title, small changes in content, changes in assessment weighting where this does not affect learning outcomes, and changes to semester. The full approval process must be completed if there are significant changes to module content, learning outcomes or assessment.

4. Proposals to withdraw and/or suspend modules should be submitted to the Faculty for approval. Enquiries regarding withdrawal or suspension of modules should be directed to the Faculty in the first instance. The module should be updated in APEX to request the withdrawal/suspension, which will then be considered by the Faculty.

5. As part of the approval process, the Faculty responsible for the teaching should ensure that it has the necessary resources available to deliver the module.

6. The AQH does not intend to provide a prescriptive form of words for module approval, but aims to clarify some of the frequently asked questions. Changes to a module requiring Faculty approval include:

(i) Substantial revision of module content

(ii) Any change in the designated level

(iii) Any change in the credit weighting

(iv) Any change in the learning outcomes and/or methods of assessment.

7. The need for a new or restructured module is recognised at departmental or subject level, and a Module Co-ordinator is identified to lead on drafting the proposal.

8. Using the APEX Module Management system and the guidance provided in section 2.2 of the Academic Quality Handbook, a draft proposal is prepared.

9. The proposal should be submitted to a module reviewer (to be nominated by the Associate Dean/Faculty). The review process is separate to any departmental scrutiny of a module proposal. Faculties should ensure that module proposals are scrutinised by an independent academic member of staff who has not been involved in writing the module or any prior departmental scrutiny or approval process.

10. The assessor should consider the module, provide constructive feedback within APEX and recommend one of the following actions:

(i) Approval of the proposal

(ii) Referral to the Faculty for further or a broader discussion, or approval subject to specified amendments having been made

(iii) Referral back to the module co-ordinator for further development.

11. The completed module proposal/restructure, including comments from the independent reviewer, should be approved by the appropriate Faculty committee.

12. Once a module has been fully approved the module/changes will be added to the module database. Information Services, the Timetable Office and the Student Support and Careers Service will automatically be notified via the workflow in APEX.

13. No module will appear on the database until the formal approval process has been completed at faculty level.

14. In cases where a minimum threshold may be applied to an option module, the academic department must inform students that the module cannot be guaranteed to run with low numbers of registered students, and that students may be asked to choose again. Equally, students should be informed where the number of registrations on a module may be capped, with a clear explanation provided.

Guidance on Completing Module Approvals in APEX

15. The information in the Module Management system is used as the basis for all relevant module documentation, including that on the AU module database and in degree scheme handbooks. Careful consideration should be given to the level of detail which will appear on the web in the context of Competition & Markets Authority guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/higher-education-consumer-law-advice-for-providers-and-students). Published information should be sufficiently detailed to enable current and prospective students to make informed choices, but not so full that minor changes – not affecting learning outcomes or assessments – would trigger the need for the submission of a full module approval.

16. The final deadline for new Part Two module proposals is in time for provisional registration in the session prior to the one in which it is intended to introduce the module. Only in exceptional circumstances, such as those arising from staff changes, should faculties consider module proposals submitted after that date.

Online Form Sections

17. The preliminary section of the online form provides the background information for the module. Questions are generally administrative and self-explanatory and important for the module database and monitoring quality checks on the module portfolio.

Background Information

  • Module Co-ordinator: Where it is proposed that co-ordination of the module and/or a significant part of its teaching is to be undertaken by someone who is not a member of AU, a brief C.V. for the person(s) concerned should be submitted with the module approval form to the appropriate faculty committee.
  • Does the proposal have implications for the structure of any study schemes? Please be aware of modules used by partner organisations and that significant changes to the core of a scheme or a change in level of a module may result in an imbalance in semesters.
  • Care should be taken with regard to overlap in other departments. A search for identical/similar titles and/or content may be undertaken using the module database. Where this section is used to identify complementary components, please indicate similarities and differences in level of content as well as subject of content. Does the proposed module develop topics introduced in another module, provide a core knowledge for others or dove-tail at the same level?

Module Rationale and Content

18. This should be as objective as possible. The proposer may have a very clear sense of a module's intended value and outcomes but this may be less apparent to an observer from outside the discipline.

  • Academic rationale: This should provide background information, e.g. the intention to fill a gap in the portfolio of modules and/or skills; a goal to improve the employability of students, or to enhance their ability to handle complex issues with a range of academic/technical skills. Some specific objectives may be included e.g. relating to the expectation that the proposed programme will meet professional accreditation requirements or the module will help meet revised requirements; that students will have more up-to-date ICT skills or that they will have wider ICT skills that can be updated regularly in employment or through further study. This information will not appear in the module database.
  • Brief Description: This should be a brief summary, aimed at the student audience, of the content of the module (no more than 150 words). This information will appear in the module database.
  • Content: This information will appear in the module database. The information needs to be reasonably detailed and should include the topics to be covered and provide an indication of the proportion of time and the type of delivery to be expected such as lectures, seminars and or other forms of delivery. If colleagues are overly prescriptive when setting out the course content, it may restrict their ability to make amendments to individual lectures or seminars in response to developments in the field or module evaluations. The detailed week-by-week plan setting out lectures, seminars etc. can be published on Blackboard, in module handbooks or equivalent as aspects of the delivery may change from year to year without change to actual content which would require approval via the APEX Module Management system.

Learning Outcomes and Assessments

19. The proposed level (0, 1, 2, 3, M, etc.) should be determined in relation to the agreed AU level descriptors; see AQH 3.1.21.

  • Learning Outcomes: The standard format is ‘On completion of this module, students should be able to' followed by a numerical list of learning outcomes. The list need not necessarily be in order of importance; outcomes are numbered to facilitate a response to the question on how they are linked to methods of assessment. Normally 3- 8 learning outcomes might be specified for a 10 credit module.

Teaching and Assessment

  • Assessment: This information will appear in the module database and links directly to timetable and exams scheduling software. Please give length of examinations, details of course work and percentage weighting of each and explain how each learning outcome is linked to the methods of assessment. Assessment refers to all means by which students' progress through and performance in a module are measured. Both formative and summative assessments are relevant.
  • Assessment: The types of assessment should be specified, i.e. unseen examination, (essay, short answer, multiple choice, etc.) and coursework (oral, portfolio, performance, essay, etc.), with the length/scale. All components of summative assessment should be included as a proportion of the total assessment. This is vital in monitoring the assessment/credit weighting relationship and student workload. If the learning outcomes describe a student centred learning approach with a group based approach but the assessment is predominantly unseen exams, an incompatibility will be detected.
  • Resit Assessment: This refers to re-sit opportunities, please ensure you make it clear both when the re-sit will be available and what sort of assessment it will be. The format of the resit should be the same as the semester assessment except where it cannot be replicated, e.g. in group or practical work. Any elements which have been passed should normally be carried forward.


20. The development of one or more of the skills listed in this section may be explicit within the module programme. If it is, the nature of the skills to be developed should be indicated. If, in addition, the skills are to be formally assessed, this should be indicated as yes/no. Please see approved list of skills at the end of this chapter.

Other General Information

21. Bibliography and Reading List: If an indication of the essential and further reading would assist the module approval process, this should be added as Indicative Bibliography. If an exhaustive bibliography is to be provided, the Subject librarian should be consulted to discuss further. Guidance on Aspire Reading Lists is published at: https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/802.

22. Resources: Library and IT requirements should include some indication of the frequency of use of IT, e.g. is a computer laboratory needed every week, intermittently etc.? What software is needed, what printing facilities? Further advice on whether a module would benefit from embedded information skills teaching is available from the Subject Librarian. For more information please refer to the Information Literacy Statement. The Subject Librarian should also be consulted when considering a new subscription to support the study of the module, e.g. a journal or database.

Evidence of Independent Scrutiny

23. Module proposals should be scrutinised by a reviewer who is an independent academic member of staff who has not been involved in writing the module; you should nominate a reviewer in consultation with your Department and/or Faculty. The reviewer should complete this section of the form and liaise with the proposer, who should make any necessary changes to the form and/or give a response in the comments. Where a module is a direct translation of an already approved module it is not necessary for this section to be completed.


24. Modules are subject to approval by the appropriate committee at Faculty level. On completion of the internal approval process within a Faculty Academic Registry will transfer the data from APEX to the module database.

Level Descriptors

25. In determining the nature of the demand that the module makes on students reference should be made to the level descriptors agreed for use in Aberystwyth University: see AQH 3.1.21.

Learning Outcomes

26. Module Learning Outcomes should follow the following guidelines:

  • An outcome should be expressed in terms of what students should be able to do on completion of the module.
  • The list of outcomes may distinguish between ‘specific', directly assessed, outcomes and ‘general' outcomes which are broader in nature and not assessable directly by the methods of assessment in any one module.
  • An outcome should be expressed in wording such that it is possible to envisage a student being able to achieve it on a scale from ‘fully' through ‘partially' to ‘not at all'.
  • The demands on students, as indicated by the intended learning outcomes, should be appropriate to the level of the module (see institutional level descriptors for what is understood by ‘level 1', etc.).
  • The outcomes should be assessable across the range of the student cohort for which the module is designed.
  • A set of outcomes for a module would normally include a range of types of student attainment (knowledge, understanding, skills).
  • It is not expected that there would be more than about 8 outcomes identified for a particular module.

Outcome vocabulary

27. There is no set vocabulary with regard to learning outcomes. However, it is advisable to keep the following in mind.

  • Verbs used to describe outcomes should be active and indicative, if the outcome is to be assessed, of the capacity to measure each outcome through formative or summative assessment. For example, if students are expected to, ‘understand’ a concept, it might be preferable to state that students should be able to, ‘identify’ qualities of the concept, ‘describe’ its value in explaining a phenomenon, ‘illustrate’ application of the concept and, ‘evaluate’ its significance. These outcomes could be seen as measurable manifestations of the understanding that we would expect students to gain.
  • Understanding includes the very specific instances, in this example, of identification, description and illustration. However, there is a variety of intermediate levels of definition. This sort of vocabulary might include, ‘critically identify’, ‘demonstrate an ability’, ‘be able to apply/discuss’ and ‘use a range’. These might equally meet the requirements for measurement. Clearly this will vary greatly between and within disciplines.

28. The table below includes some more of the less measurable verbs and alternative terms that could be linked to assessment methods more closely. Clearly, they are context specific and some are interchangeable. This is not a definitive list.


General verb

Measurable verb


Demonstrate an understanding of

Be aware of

Describe, Illustrate, Discuss


Analyse, Evaluate


Explain, Synthesise


Demonstrate, Identify, List, State, Justify


Analyse, Evaluate, Compare

Make known

Communicate, Explain

Carry out



Define, Discriminate, Distinguish, Evaluate


Skills for personal and professional development

Creative problem solving


Opportunities that challenge, make the student think for themselves and/or involve finding different ways of working creatively. Involves decision making, enterprising ways of thinking, alternative approaches, innovation, initiative.

Critical and analytical thinking


Ability to gather required data quickly and comprehensively analyse and evaluate situations and information to inform decisions/thinking. Includes information literacy, ability to plan research, collate appropriate data, consider alternative perspectives and viewpoints, reach conclusions, be logical, quantitative reasoning and analysis, recognising bias and misinformation.

Adaptability and resilience


Ability to deal with changing circumstances and environments. Adapting to working with other people with different preferences and priorities. Adapting to communicating to different audiences. Includes recognition that abilities grow over time; learning through mistakes; accepting feedback positively; constructive criticism.

Digital capability

Broad based concept covering media and information literacy, digital research and problem-solving, creativity with digital tools as well as routine management of communication and social media tools. Includes willingness to try new technologies, adapt to digital methods of working, understanding of digital footprint and its impact.


Through discussion and tasks, opportunities to understand own experiences, qualities and aspirations.  Student led learning. Provide opportunities to identify and address strengths and weaknesses. Related to AberGrad Skills Checklists and Planning Grids, MEQ, recognising skills development and personal progress, career planning, assessing interests and values, feedback and assessment.

Professional communication

Places written, oral, visual, numerical and digital communication within the workplace context. Includes the ability to empathise by placing self in the shoes of others, to understand their feelings, and to help solve their problems, to recognise appropriate methods of communication related to different audiences, to use language and communications methods appropriately, to utilise quantitative data in appropriate ways to enhance understanding, to consider the content of communication and the tone utilised.

Real world sense

Learning based on investigating real world issues (PBL/CBL)

Contributions from alumni, practitioners & entrepreneurs.

Experiential – practice based learning that is work or community based

Developing skills in: initiative, independence, team working, coping with pressure, communicating effectively, managing time, taking decisions, being responsible, recognising bias and misinformation, adapting, planning, coordinating and organising, recognising the transferability of skills, translating skills labels in academia to those used in the workplace – related to AberGrad Skills Checklists. Sometimes referred to as commercial awareness.

Co-ordinating with others

Collaborative working as a group, with a shared outcome and assessed as a whole, negotiating, influencing.

Cooperative, as a group, with a shared outcome but assessed individually.

Develop leadership via opportunities to:

  • motivate and direct others
  • take responsibility for the direction and actions of a team
  • use initiative, take responsibility and ownership of problems.