4. Modifications to existing approved provision

  • The programme specification, and associated programme documentation, may be considered as the ‘contract’ between the University, as the awarding body, its Departments and Faculties, and its students, which sets out the terms of delivery of a programme. Within this context, it is recognised that it may be necessary to make changes to existing programmes from time to time, in order to maintain the currency of the provision, to satisfy the requirements of accrediting or commissioning bodies, or to enhance the student learning experience. These changes must be approved through the processes described in this section to ensure that staff, students and other interested parties (including applicants) have access to accurate definitive programme information at all times. Modifications have been categorised according to their significance for the programme as a whole (see 4.1 below), and the approval processes tailored so that they are proportionate to the changes being proposed (see 4.2 below)

  • 4.1.1 Routine updating

    For routine updates to modules and programmes, an appropriately authorised member of the Faculty (i.e. with the consent of the Programme Lead) must notify the Student Central Course & Student Administration Team using the CSAT Syllabus Update Request form*, in order that PIP can be updated. This may include updates such as:

    • change to module leader;
    • textual amendments/updates which do not change the focus of a module or fall into a minor change category (see 4.1.2 below);
    • updates to reading lists (updates to module bibliographies should also be negotiated directly with the appropriate Academic Liaison Librarian to ensure additional resources are made available to students);
    • updates to list of level 4 recommended modules available to a programme (see 4.1.4 below).

    Once the update has been carried out by the CSAT team, any amended documents should be lodged with the Faculty Quality Officer and the APQO.

    Where they consider that a requested update constitutes a minor or major change, the Course & Student Administration Team will refer it back to the Module Leader or Programme Lead, who should follow the appropriate approval process as set out in 4.2 below.

    *The Syllabus Update Request form

    4.1.2 Minor Changes refer to modifications to existing modules which relate to the teaching and learning experience, including changes to the following validated arrangements:

    • Module title
    • Module aims and learning outcomes
    • Module assessment strategy (this has implications for the Unistats return)
    • Curriculum content
    • Teaching and learning strategy/mode of delivery (this has implications for the Unistats return)
    • Pre- and co-requisites
    • Extending the use of the module as acceptable to another programme
    • Deletion of the module

    4.1.3 Major Changes refer to modifications at the level of the programme, including changes to:

    • Programme title
    • Exit award/s available
    • Professional accreditation requirements (this has implications for the Unistats return)
    • Programme learning outcomes
    • Significant changes to the overall approach to teaching, learning and assessment across the programme (especially where the Unistats return may be affected)
    • Curriculum structure (this may affect the Unistats return)
    • Criteria for admission (changes to specific ‘A’ level grades/tariff points are not subject to this process)

    Major changes also include:

    • Extending the use of an existing module to another existing programme as a compulsory module;
    • Approval of new modules for inclusion in an existing programme;
    • Variation from the University Regulations (see section 3.2 above for the process to be followed).

    NOTE: Changes to resource requirements for programme delivery should be dealt with by the Head of Department/Faculty Executive group.

    4.1.4 Faculties should be mindful of the cumulative effect of a significant number of individual changes to programmes over a period of time, and must ensure that all changes are approved through the appropriate process, and clearly communicated to students, staff and other relevant stakeholders in a timely manner. Revalidation of an existing programme, following the new programme approval process set out in section 3 above, should be initiated where substantial curriculum change is required, covering several of the areas listed in 4.1.3 at once. This may occur, for example, in the case of changing professional or industry requirements, or where the addition of a significant number of compulsory modules results in a change to the programme learning outcomes. NOTE: the addition of additional acceptable modules to an undergraduate programme may be dealt with through the minor/major change process and should not, on its own, trigger a re-validation.

    4.2.1 Minor changes

    1. Approval of minor changes is delegated to faculties, although the agreement of the PVC (Student Experience) must be secured for the introduction of semester 1 examinations, following FAESC approval. Proposals for minor changes should be presented by the module leader on the request for changes template (T2.13), and must include confirmation that the relevant external examiner has been consulted in respect of any changes to the assessment strategy, and is in agreement with the proposals.
    2. The Course & Student Administration Team (Student Central) must also be consulted prior to approval, to ensure that the proposed change fits with regulatory and systems requirements, and their comments should be recorded on the request for changes form. Module leaders should provide a summary of any feedback from students on the changes. This may take the form of a short account of the discussion at the Subject Committee (or other meeting at which students were present) or - where the change has come about as a result of student feedback - a statement to this effect.
    3. Once the change has been agreed at a Subject Committee, the request for changes form, together with the updated module description, should be forwarded to the Faculty Quality Officer, who will arrange for the proposal to be considered by the Faculty AESC. Once FAESC approval has been granted, the form should be submitted to the APQO via the link QAO. The APQO will lodge the approved form with the programme documentation and forward a copy to the Course & Student Administration Team for the updates to be logged on the records system.

    4.2.2 Major changes

    1. The approval of major changes is also devolved to faculties, but, because these changes affect the programme as a whole, the approval process should take the form of a panel approval (this may be by email correspondence), and consultation with students and external examiners must be recorded in more detail than for minor changes. Internal consultation with APQO and the Course & Student Administration Team should be undertaken to ensure that the programme continues to meet University regulatory requirements; and OCSLD should be consulted for advice on good practice in teaching, learning and assessment where changes are to be made to these strategies.
    2. The proposal must initially be discussed by the Subject Committee, following which the appropriate documentation should be submitted to the Faculty Quality Officer, who will arrange for its consideration by a panel. The panel should include as a minimum:
      • two academics from other departments within the faculty, at least one of which must be a member of the Faculty AESC;
      • a panel coordinator, nominated by the Chair of the Faculty AESC, who will be responsible for drawing the panel members’ comments together and writing a short panel report for the major change form;
      • the link QAO for the Faculty.
    3. The panel will be provided with the following evidence:
      • request for changes form (T2.13)
      • updated programme specification (T2.7)
      • module descriptors (where new modules are being proposed) (T2.8)
      • student/external examiner/other stakeholder consultation report/s (T2.15)
    4. The panel must consider whether the documentation provides evidence that an appropriate consultation process has been undertaken, and that the rationale for the change is robust. Where new compulsory modules are being introduced, the panel must check that the modules contribute to the achievement of the programme learning outcomes and that the proposed curriculum change does not substantially alter the nature of the award. The panel coordinator will then add a short report to the request for changes form to summarise the key points raised by panel members and to indicate their decision. The form will then be submitted to the FAESC for endorsement, following which the request for changes form, programme specification and (where applicable) module descriptors must be forwarded to the APQO via the link QAO.

    NOTE: the process for obtaining approval for variations from the regulations is set out in section 3.2 above.

    4.2.3 Summary of approval processes and documentation

      Minor Change Major Change Revalidation
    Consultation External examiner;
    Course & Student Administration Team,
    External examiner;
    Other relevant stakeholders;
    Course & Student Administration Team,
    See section 3 for approval process.
    Documentation Required Minor change form
    Updated module descriptor
    Major change form or variation application form;
    External examiner report;
    Student/stakeholder consultation report
    Updated programme specification;
    Module descriptors (for new modules)
    Approval Subject Committee
    Faculty AESC
    Subject Committee
    Faculty Executive (for changes to resource requirements)
    Faculty AESC
    Reported to... APQO
    Course & Student Administration Team
    Course & Student Administration Team
    Admissions Office,
    University AESC

    * Students must also be notified when changes affecting their programmes of study have been approved.

    4.2.4 Deadlines for approval

    1. Minor and major changes for implementation in the next academic year should have completed the approval process - i.e. they must have been agreed by Faculty AESC - by 28th February (in order to meet the March deadline for systems amendments). Semester 2 modules for taught postgraduate provision must have completed the approval process in time for submission to the Student & Course Administration Team by Week 12, Semester 2. If changes need to be processed beyond these deadlines, the link QAO and Head of the Course & Student Administration Team should be consulted for advice on how to proceed.
    2. Except in the case of collaborative provision (for which periodic review incorporates an element of re-approval), programme teams going through periodic review should avoid presenting minor and major changes for approval by the review panel. These amendments should, wherever possible, be considered and approved by FAESC prior to the panel event, so as to allow the panel to focus on the provision as a whole rather than on detailed changes to individual modules. Where the need to revalidate a particular programme is identified during the preparation for the periodic review of a Subject area, this should also be undertaken as a separate exercise. If amendments to existing provision are to be submitted during the periodic review exercise, particularly where they will require processing beyond the deadlines set out in 4.2.4 above, advice should be sought from the link QAO and Head of the Course & Student Administration Team on whether it will be possible to carry out the systems update in time for the start of the next academic year.