Academic Services manages the following University’s processes: course planning and approval; modifications; suspension and discontinuation; and periodic reviews.

Course planning and approval

Sandwich years

Sandwich years comprise a single 120-credit module, mapping to Level 5 of the Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications. The ‘sandwich’ module is marked as Pass/Fail only, and does not contribute to the degree algorithm.

Students registered on a programme with a sandwich year need to take and pass 480 credits, including the 120-credit ‘sandwich’ module; if this is not passed, the student’s registration will switch to the equivalent non-sandwich programme with the standard 360 credits.

 

Open modules

The introduction of open modules in 2011/12 evolved through the University's review of the Undergraduate Modular Scheme in 2008/9. Since then, the number and variety of open modules available to students has grown.

Open modules are monitored and their success evaluated by a working party, led up by the Head of Enterprise & Employability and the Head of Learning & Teaching. Evaluation of open modules and updates from the working party are regularly reported to the Learning and Teaching Committee.

In terms of quality assurance processes, open modules are managed as follows:

Introduction of new open modules

Proposals for new open modules should following the existing modifications process.

Modifications

For the purposes of modifications, open modules are considered separately from their home subject. Therefore, a modification to an open module does not count towards the permitted quota for the home subject. In the case of open modules, only one modification can be approved at School Board, with the exception of addition or deletion. Thereafter, subsequent modifications must be approved at Programme Approval and Review Sub-committee (PARS).

Periodic Review

Open modules are considered at the home subject periodic review.

Annual Monitoring

Open modules should be monitored through the home subject academic developmental reporting.

External Examiners

External examining duties should be carried out by the home subject external examiner.

Modifications

The modifications process

The modifications process, (formally known as the minor modifications process) has changed.

From 2015/16 onwards, please follow the new process which is detailed below.  We hope that these changes will streamline the process and make it more efficient.  The new process will include internal stakeholder meetings to capture stakeholder feedback in one session, avoiding the need for email correspondence.  Also new will be specific forms for consultation with students and external examiners and the use of mapping documents to demonstrate how the programme-level intended learning outcomes (ILOs) and assessments are affected by the modification/s. 

Please note that although the process and paperwork has changed the Modifications Policy remains the same.

Modifications policy (section 3 of Course Planning and Approval Handbook)

Stage 1 Prepare Paperwork

Stage 2 Consult with Students, External Examiner(s) and Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB)

  • Discuss the proposed modification(s) with students (e.g. current students' at SSLC/focus groups or with students from a similar subject area), the External Examiner(s) and if necessary, the relevant PSRB.
  • Ensure the student consultation template and the External Examiner consultation template is completed.

Stage 3 Consult with internal stakeholders (meeting)

  • Send the Modification Proposal and Approval template, (with Section One and Two completed), module descriptor, ILO and assessment maps to internal stakeholders for their consideration, prior to the internal stakeholder meeting.
  • Academic Services will arrange regular internal stakeholder meetings at which the modification(s) will be discussed and approved.
  • The proposer is invited to attend the internal stakeholder meeting to answer any questions.
  • Detailed notes of the discussion and the outcome should be taken, to support the proposal at the School Board stage.  The proposer can choose to take these notes or can bring a member of professional services staff from the School (e.g. the School Board Officer) to the meeting for this purpose. 
  • At the end of the meeting, the internal stakeholders will each complete the approval pro-forma to confirm approval of the modification(s).

Stage 4 Prepare for final School Board sign off

  • If necessary, the proposer will update the module descriptor, following feedback at the internal stakeholder meeting.
  • The proposer will complete Section Three of the Modification Proposal and Approval template to confirm that consultation has taken place and how this has informed the proposal.
  • The final version of the module descriptor, Modification Proposal and Approval template, internal stakeholder proformas, and student and external examiner consultation templates will be submitted to School Board.

Stage 5 Approval of modification

  • The modification and final version of the module descriptor is approved at School Board and also by the Programme Approval and Review sub-committee if needed (Academic Services can advise).
  • Section Five of the Modification Proposal and Approval template is completed.
  • The final version of the module descriptor is logged with Academic Services.
  • Academic Services will notify Student Services and other relevant internal stakeholders.

Useful documents

Suspension and discontinuation

Introduction

The University's procedure for Suspension of Recruitment and/or Discontinuation of a Named Award was approved by the Academic Quality and Standards Committee in April 2013, and subsequently reviewed and re-approved in June 2014 following the first year of operation. The procedure comprises two processes: one for the suspension of recruitment and one for the discontinuation of a named award. Flow charts are linked below which provide a step-by-step guide, however processes for BSU and collaborative provision vary. Please ensure you follow the appropriate flow chart.

Exit strategy

When the procedure was introduced, the decision was taken not to provide an exit strategy template, to allow flexibility in the development of such documents and the information that might be included. Following the first year of operation of the procedure the experiences of academic staff who had overseen the procedure were sought. As a result, the following guidance notes are provided to assist in the completion of exit strategies and subsequent updates to them.

All provision

  1. The exit strategy should anticipate potential issues that may arise and identify specific responses in readiness, rather than reacting to such issues. It may also be helpful to identify the likelihood of potential issues and the impact they would have.
  2. The exit strategy should include a student/cohort profile status indicating student achievement taken at the initial point of discontinuation (Vice-Chancellor's approval). This will enable members of staff overseeing the discontinuation (including the link tutor in the case of collaborative provision) to identify at the earliest opportunity any potential difficulties with regard to students who may be trailing modules, intercalating or at risk of failing. This should be updated as the discontinuation progresses.
  3. The exit strategy should be specific with regard to alternative options of study available to students.
  4. The exit strategy should detail number of staff and details of FTE. The specialisms offered by these members of staff should be included. (NB The exit strategy should not name individual members of staff, but should instead say, for example, course leader, subject leader, link tutor.)
  5. The exit strategy should provide assurance with regard to cross-specialism support in the event of staff changes, with processes in place to monitor any such changes in staffing arrangements.
  6. The exit strategy should list the key resources required until the discontinuation process is complete. For collaborative provision that is to be brought in-house, the exit strategy should provide detailed assurance that students have access to equivalent resources as those available at the partner provider.
  7. Where there are optional modules associated with a discontinuing award, these should be listed.
  8. The exit strategy should make clear the possibility that delivery may be brought in-house as a final sanction where the University considers this the best option to ensure that student experience and opportunities are not compromised.
  9. It is helpful if the exit strategy is clear about resource implications of a discontinuation. For example, an award at a partner provider will require significantly increased time and effort from the link tutor as the discontinuation progresses.

General guidance

  1. A full file of correspondence and notes should be kept to support the exit strategy, for example copies of emails and correspondence with staff and students regarding the discontinuation, notes of meetings with students that have informed the exit strategy, and copies of the reports that will go to each School Board until there are no longer any students registered on it. In the case of collaborative provision, this should include the letter sent to students advising of the discontinuation and providing reassurance of ongoing support, whether this was sent by the Principal (or equivalent) or the partner provider or the University.
  2. Formal notification to the external examiner of the discontinuation of an award will be the responsibility of Academic Services. The member of staff overseeing the discontinuation and exit strategy should ensure that the external examiner is kept fully informed throughout the discontinuation process.
  3. For collaborative provision, the exit strategy should be written jointly by the University and the partner provider. Responsibility for the academic standards and quality of learning opportunities rests with the University.
  4. For collaborative provision, link tutors should continue to attend examination boards as usual.

Periodic review

About periodic reviews

Each academic subject unit is subject to periodic review every 6 years. The review normally lasts 1-3 days, depending on the size of the provision to be reviewed and is conducted by a panel consisting of members both internal and external to the University. In December 2009, AQSC approved our current periodic review process.

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