Continuous Action for Programme Enhancement

This section of the Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes (RDPs) relates to Indicators 3 and 15 of the UK Quality Code, Chapter B11: Research Degrees (June 2012).

The University undertakes regular reviews of the provision of its RDPs to assure the quality and maintain the academic standards of research degrees, and to provide an indication of the University’s progress against national targets.

The CAPE Guidance for Programme Teams‌ document will be updated during 2018-19 as the process becomes established.  If additional guidance is needed, please contact

Introduction of Continuous Action for Programme Enhancement (CAPE)

The Annual Programme Review and the Annual Review of Research Degree Programmes processes were reviewed in 2017-18 in consultation with the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students, and Faculty Deans with responsibility for undergraduate, postgraduate taught and research degree programme matters.  The new approach will move away from a static reflection on sometimes outdated information, and focus on Continuous Action for Programme Enhancement (CAPE). 

Key features include:

  1. CAPE report templates have been designed to support timely consideration of data, concerns and good practice, and for actions/measurable outcomes to be defined and implemented as soon as possible to enable programme enhancement.
  2. CAPE report templates have been designed to focus on programme-level information; and provide better linkages to module review, programme amendment procedures and School/subject review (Periodic Review and Enhancement Process), to support a more connected quality assurance framework.
  3. CAPE has been designed to consider the most meaningful timeframes for undergraduate (UG), postgraduate taught (PGT) and research degree programme (RDP) data.  For example, the CAPE PGT report deadline will move from December to March to permit the inclusion of final award data for the full-time cohort, and the inclusion of external examiner feedback and School responses.  New Qsis reports are being developed to support CAPE.
  4. CAPE will be applied to validated and franchised programmes.  A copy of the feedback from the CAPE review groups will be forwarded to the Collaborative Provision Group for noting, alongside its review of information regarding alignment with the Memorandum of Agreement and the collaborative management of the programme.  The Collaborative Provision Group will provide separate feedback on these latter two matters, for relevant programmes.  This will eradicate previous concerns regarding sometimes contradictory feedback from APR review panels and CPG.

The CAPE approach and reporting templates for undergraduate, postgraduate taught and research degree programmes were presented for consultation during April and May 2018.  Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with the new approach welcomed across the University.  CAPE was approved by the Education Committee and the Research and Postgraduate Committee in May 2018.  Exemplars, guidance documentation and briefing sessions both for programme teams and reviewers, will be developed to facilitate implementation.

Purpose of CAPE

As part of the University’s quality assurance framework, Continuous Action for Programme Enhancement (CAPE) will be a key mechanism by which the University can assure itself of the quality, and maintain the academic standards, of its programmes.  CAPE will enable programme teams to reflect and act upon relevant programme-level information within their normal cycle of business, reducing duplication of effort; and will enable Faculties/committees to make judgments on the School/programme team’s analysis of pertinent data and actions to address concerns or disseminate good practice. This work will form a significant part of the basis on which Academic Council will seek to provide assurance to Senate on the following matters, so that Senate may provide the required annual assurances to the Department for the Economy:

  1. Students’ academic experience at Queen’s is of an appropriate quality, and robust and appropriate methodologies are in place to ensure the continuous improvement of the student academic experience.
  2. Student outcomes are of an appropriate quality, and robust and appropriate methodologies are in place to ensure the continuous improvement of student outcomes.
  3. Degree standards are set and maintained at an appropriate level.

The CAPE Reports

Faculty Deans with responsibility for undergraduate, postgraduate taught and research degree programmes, respectively, have agreed how programmes will be grouped within separate CAPE reports.  Reporting templates have been prepared in accordance with these groupings, and are available for updating via SharePoint

Note: Generic tables have been included in the initial reporting templates uploaded to SharePoint.  However, tables will be adjusted to fit the Qsis data for particular programmes (e.g. for specific degree classifications), providing bespoke programme reports.

The deadline for the submission of completed CAPE reports is:

Undergraduate Programmes:                        14 December 2018

Research Degree Programmes:                    14 December 2018

Postgraduate Taught Programmes:               1 March 2019

CAPE Review Process

During feedback from Schools as part of the review of Annual Programme Review/Annual Review of Research Degree Programmes, Schools indicated that the informal School meetings with Faculty Deans prior to finalisation and submission of the programme forms were a very valuable part of the review process.  Therefore, these meetings will continue under the CAPE approach.

For CAPE RDP, the PGR Academic Review Group which includes all Deans with responsibility for RDP matters, will continue to meet as in previous years.  The PGRARG will consider School (Programme) Reports and provide School-specific feedback, Faculty Action Plan Evaluations, and Review of Threshold Academic Standards.  The review will culminate in a report to the Research and Postgraduate Committee that may present Institutional recommendations for RDP management, provide assurances regarding academic standards, and present Faculty Reports that highlight general themes, Faculty Action Plan Evaluation, and School-specific feedback.

Due to the volume of expected UG/PGT programme returns, Review Panels will continue to be arranged at a Faculty level (including a non-Faculty Panel) with cross-University membership.  As with previous years, these Panels will consider the Programme Reports and provide School/programme-specific feedback, and discuss Faculty-level findings/actions.  In addition, a new cross-University Review Group, to include Chairs of the Faculty/Non-Faculty Review Panels, will consider cross-Faculty findings and any Institutional recommendations, and will provide assurances to Education Committee on academic standards.

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