The University continually reviews and enhances its portfolio of taught programmes. Schools/Programme Co-ordinators are required to provide a range of documents to help ensure that all programmes are delivered in accordance with an approved programme specification; that students have accurate and comprehensive information about their programme of study and that they will meet fully the relevant expectations of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education.
Procedures for the introduction of new collaborative programmes with other institutions and organisations, including proposed joint/dual awards, can be found here.
There are four stages when developing a new programme. A full overview of the procedures and timelines are shown in the New Programme Approval flowchart.
The Faculty, in consultation with the relevant School, will give strategic direction on proposals for new programmes in advance of the appropriate recruitment cycle. Schools should consult Academic Affairs at the earliest opportunity to discuss a timescale for the approval process.
Schools should discuss their proposal with their Faculty Dean of Education who will then consult with the other Faculty Deans of Education concerning potential overlap or similarities with existing programmes or new programmes being developed elsewhere in the University.
A member of staff who has a proposal for a new programme should arrange for it to be discussed and considered in fairly general terms by the appropriate School body. This should be done at an early stage, before a lot of time is spent developing detailed proposals which may ultimately not be approved.
Suggested factors to be considered at this stage include:
If the School and Faculty provisionally agrees the outline proposal, one individual should take responsibility for developing a more detailed proposal and for completing the necessary paperwork.
The Approval to Proceed process replaces “Approval in Principle” for New Programmes. Schools can no longer advertise a new programme “subject to final approval”. Only when a new programme has been fully approved by the Courses and Regulations Group can it be marketed and published in the prospectuses, CourseFinder and the Direct Admissions Portal.
Documentation that is required by the Faculty will include:
When Approval to Proceed is endorsed by the Faculty, the Faculty should inform the relevant School and departments of approval to proceed and arrange for the documentation to be forwarded to Academic Affairs. It is only when Approval to Proceed has been granted by the Faculty that the School moves to the Programme Evaluation Meeting stage.
The purpose of the programme evaluation stage is to ensure that programme approval decisions are informed by full consideration of subject benchmark statements, academic standards and the quality of the learning opportunities. Accordingly, the Head of School will convene a Programme Evaluation Meeting (PEM) to scrutinise the draft course content, regulations, assessment methods, learning outcomes, programme specification and consistency with both the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and relevant sections of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education including the Advice and Guidance themes. Expectations include:
Consideration must also be given to equality of opportunity which involves enabling access for people who have differing individual requirements as well as eliminating arbitrary and unnecessary barriers to learning. The programme design team should consult the University's Centre for Educational Development (CED) for support and guidance on learning outcomes, and assessment strategies as required when developing the programme.
The programme evaluation panel will comprise:
A representative from Academic Affairs will attend the PEM in an advisory capacity.
The inclusion of an external adviser (business/academic) is required in order to provide specialist information and guidance on current developments in the workplace and/or in the discipline(s). The external adviser will attend the PEM. Schools may also consider contributions from appropriate professional or statutory bodies, or other programme partners. In exceptional circumstances, the Director of Academic and Student Affairs may give permission for an external adviser to submit written comments if he or she is unable to attend the PEM. The PEM will be supported by an administrator from the School/Faculty. Advice and guidance will be available from the Secretary of the CRG (contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
The PEM panel should be invited to comment and consider the proposal. The Chair should direct discussions to ensure that:
It should be noted that although the Faculty has endorsed the programme to proceed to PEM, the Panel should discuss anticipated student demand; the resources needed to support the programme and how the programme fits within both the School and University provision.
Normally the programme development lead will provide an overview of the programme/modules to the PEM Panel.
Special arrangements may be made to streamline the evaluation of programmes which carry professional recognition, for example, a joint meeting of the evaluation panel and representatives of the professional body. Where the academic structure of a new programme is based on similar programmes already on offer by the School/Faculty, there may be an opportunity to streamline the approval process in consultation with Academic Affairs.
The minimum documentation required for a PEM is as follows:
In addition, for programmes which are to be delivered through flexible or distributed learning (FDL) (e.g., distance learning or e-learning), the Centre for Educational Development (CED) should be contacted for guidance on the written submission which should include:
Schools seeking approval for postgraduate programmes must provide separate programme specifications for each possible award of the programme e.g. for Master’s and Postgraduate Diplomas, if the latter is offered as an exit award.
The above documentation and PEM Agenda must be circulated to the panel at least one week in advance of the PEM to give Panel members time to review the proposal.
A report of the meeting should be produced, setting out the evaluation panel’s findings and any conditions that a recommendation(s) may be subject to. A draft of the report, prepared by the PEM secretary, must be circulated to PEM members for approval, normally within five working days of the PEM. If one or more panel members have reservations about the report that are not addressed, these should be included in an appendix to the report along with an explanation from the chairperson. The report should contain a conclusions, recommendations and actions section to track progress of recommendations made by the Panel. The final report, when confirmed by the chairperson, should be circulated as soon as possible to:
If the programme development team has difficulty in meeting the conditions specified by the evaluation panel, it should report this to the CRG, giving reasons, within five working days of receiving the PEM report. Otherwise, the programme development team should submit to the CRG, within 10 working days of receipt of the report (or a date approved by the CRG):
Under the fast-track process the documentation will be considered for approval by the CRG who will report, via the CRG Secretary, recommendations/comments that require a School response. Incomplete documentation will not be presented to CRG, but referred back to the School/Faculty.
The evaluation and approval process is concluded when the CRG has approved the programme and the associated documentation. It is only at this stage that the programme can be said to have been approved and may be listed in University websites or publication material.
The Secretary to the CRG will inform all relevant administration areas once formal CRG approval has been secured, and this will be reported to Education Committee. Final academic approval of professional doctorate research degree programmes is given by the Research and Postgraduate Committee on recommendation from the CRG.
Details of the new programme will be circulated by the CRG Secretary to the relevant administration areas which include:
Schools should then liaise with the Faculty Marketing Hub staff regarding promotion of the programme.
Queen's University Belfast is committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
For more information please read our Equality and Diversity Policy.
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