• 2.2 Programme approval process

    This chapter refers to the approval of new programmes of study leading to a University award, and to existing programmes undergoing re-validation. The University’s definition of a programme of study, and the currently available awards in the University’s portfolio, to which a programme of study may lead, can be found in A1 of the University Regulations

    This section covers:

  • Initial approval

    • Faculty approval
      You must have your initial proposal approved by the Faculty Executive Group before it can proceed to validation. The format of submission may vary depending on Faculty requirements, so please consult your Associate Dean Strategy and Development for advice.
    • Establishing a Programme Development Team (PDT) and new programme registration 
      Following Faculty approval, a PDT should be established and if a brand new programme is being proposed, a New Programme Registration Form (T2.1) must be submitted to the Quality Assurance Officer (QAO). New programmes may, at this stage, be advertised as “subject to validation”. 
    • Timescales
      It is important to consider key deadlines for programme approval and modification and to decide on deadlines for completion of the approval process early on.

    Programme development

    A meeting should be held between the Chair of the PDT, QAO, Faculty Quality Officer, Associate Dean Student Experience or PL Quality Assurance and Validation to agree key dates leading up to the approval event.

    • Programme Development Team
      The main purpose of the PDT is to inform the design of the new programme by involving relevant colleagues in the Faculty and Directorates.  
    • Criteria for programme approval
      During the programme development phase the PDT must consider the following aspects of the programme: consultation; curriculum; recruitment and admissions; learning, teaching and assessment; programme management; learning resources; distance learning.   
    • External Assessor
      The PDT is responsible for nominating the External Assessor. For more information on the appointment criteria, please see the Programme Approval Panel section.


    The PDT must prepare the following documentation for submission to the programme approval panel:

    Programme Approval Panels

    All proposals for new (or re-validated) programmes are considered by a Programme Approval Panel, acting on the principle of peer review. 

    • Panel Members, including the External Assessor nominated by the PDT, must meet a number of criteria.
    • Panel Nomination Form must be submitted to the QAQ. The membership of individual panels will be negotiated between the PDT and the QAO.
    • Guidance note (G2.3) on the conduct of validation panels and information about training for panel chairs and members is available on the APQO website.


    After the Panel considered the criteria for programme approval, the panel event will result in one of the following three outcomes:

    1. Recommend approval
      The Panel can recommend approval of the programme/s to the University’s Academic Enhancement and Standards Committee, with or without conditions and/or recommendations. 
    2. Referral 
      The Panel might refer the proposal for further work where there are a number of significant issues to be addressed. This will allow time for the programme development team to consult more widely and fully revise the documentation, which should be considered by a re-convened panel. 
    3. Rejection
      A proposal might be rejected because a range of substantive issues affecting several aspects of delivery and assessment need to be addressed. This decision requires the proposal to be re-submitted for development approval from the start of the process as set out in section 2.1 above.

    Read following the event for further information on the sign off process following an approval.