Programme approval and review

Academic Governance and Policy manages the University’s processes on course planning and approval, modifications, suspension and discontinuation, and periodic review

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.


About modifications

Modifications are changes to modules or programmes which are made after a programme has been formally approved or re-approved. Bath Spa University supports modifications to modules and programmes wherever changes are necessary to enhance and develop the programme. At the same time, the University recognises the need to be clear about when and why a module or a programme is changed in order to ensure clear information to students and applicants about their programmes.

Modifications are normally processed by Schools and may require different levels of approval or approval from different internal stakeholders depending on the change being proposed.

Information about the Modifications process can be found in Section 3 of the Course Planning and Approval Handbook

Modifications Process (Section 3 of the Course Planning and Approval Handbook)

Annex 11 of the Course Planning and Approval Handbook - Nature of modification and level of approval and consultation

Annex 12 of the Course Planning and Approval Handbook - Module Descriptor Template and relevant stakeholders

Suspension and discontinuation


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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