3. Approval process

  • 3.1 The approval process for credit-bearing short courses should enable the University to:

    • respond in a timely fashion to the needs of the market a short course is designed for;
    • ensure that short courses are appropriately costed;
    • assure itself that appropriate academic standards are being set for all its credit-bearing provision.

    3.2 As with proposals for new programmes of study leading to a substantive University qualification, initial development approval must also be sought for new short courses from the Faculty Executive Group - or other Faculty group with appropriate authority - as it is important that such provision is carefully costed in order to set appropriate tuition fees. LPAG approval must be sought for short courses delivered in partnership with another organisation.

    3.3 The format of submissions will vary according to Faculty (or LPAG) requirements, but they should include the following minimum information:

    • rationale for the development of the new programme;
    • the contribution of the new provision to the achievement of Faculty and University strategic objectives;
    • evidence of potential market demand, for all proposed modes of study;
    • business case, including costs of development and delivery; funding and fees (income) information; risk assessment; and
    • proposed staffing for the course.

    3.4 Responsibility for the approval of short courses (home provision) is devolved to Faculty AESCs, supported by APQO through the Faculty’s link Quality Assurance Officer. The approval process is managed by the Faculty Academic Enhancement & Standards Committee and the outcomes reported to University AESC through the FAESC minutes. Teams developing the course for approval should refer to the guidance in Chapter 2 of the Quality and Standards Handbook. Short courses delivered through collaborative arrangements are subject to the approval processes set out in Chapter 5 of the Quality & Standards Handbook.

    3.5 The following documentation should be prepared for course approval:

    • Part 1 of the approval report template (T6.1). This document provides the FAESC, or approval panel sub-group, with information and evidence of:
      1. the likely demand, course management arrangements, delivery arrangements and schedule, student support arrangements, learning resources (and access to them), staff delivering, mechanisms for student feedback, and information about the introduction of the course.
      2. whether the credit gained through the proposed short course can contribute to a higher award, together with any progression requirements.
      3. evidence of externality, including (as a minimum) consultation with an external examiner on a cognate programme within the department or an independent external adviser, as appropriate.
      4. student/stakeholder consultation (including with Directorates), as applicable.
    • short course programme specification (T6.2) and module descriptors (using the standard University module descriptor template T2.8, available via Chapter 2 of the Quality & Standards Handbook) For single-module short courses, the single-module short course specification (T6.3) acts as both the programme specification and module descriptor;
    • draft handbook to be provided to students;
    • a sample of the certificate to be issued to successful students (see 2.6 above);
    • for collaborative provision, an operations manual governing the delivery arrangements.

    3.6 The panel will also be provided electronically with the following documents, for reference:

    • The frameworks for HE qualifications and credit, at http://www.qaa.ac.uk/quality-code/the-existing-uk-quality-code/part-a-setting-and-maintaining-academic-standards ;
    • Any relevant PSRB professional standards and programme requirements; and
    • Course approval criteria (see section 4, below, and guidance note G6.1).

    3.7 The documentation should be presented by the team for approval by the Faculty AESC, or by a sub-group of the Faculty AESC, as agreed between the course leader and the FAESC Chair. Where a sub-group is convened, this must include the Chair and/or Faculty PL for Quality Assurance and Validation, the link QAO, and at least one academic representative from outside the proposing Department.

    3.8 Where a cross-Faculty course or module is proposed, a “home” Faculty must be agreed to oversee the development, approval and ongoing management, monitoring and review processes. The meeting approving the proposal, be it the FAESC or a sub-group, must include appropriate panel representation from each Faculty involved in the proposal.

    3.9 Where a course is delivered substantially or wholly by distance learning, the FAESC or sub-group panel will require a demonstration of the VLE for the course and of the learning materials.