Programme design overview

Overview of how to design and seek approval for a new or changed programme.

Designing a new programme or module

When you are designing your programme or module, you need to consider the following:

  • What is the purpose of your programme or module? For example, personal academic development, preparation for research or employment, preparation for lifelong learning? Are appropriate learning opportunities available?
  • Is your programme current, that is does it reflect current disciplinary knowledge, good practice in pedagogy and does it reflect the needs of the market?
  • Is the level appropriate? Where does it fall in the Framework for Higher Education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland?
  • How will students progress through the programme?
  • Is the programme sufficiently flexible to fit the needs of the learners?
  • Is the programme well structured and coherent?
  • Are the learning outcomes realistic and achievable?
  • Have the necessary reference points been consulted? This includes Senate regulations, QAA Quality Code and subject benchmark statements, and requirements from funding bodies.

For more information, see the Code of Practice on Programme Development, Approval and Modification

Programme design overview

You will need to consider the broad learning outcomes of the programme and outline the modules. You should also think about the mode and format of the programme:

  • Campus-based or distance learning; UK or international
  • Does it involve any fieldwork or placements?
  • Are there any accreditation needs?
  • Will it require additional staff or different skills?

You should consider what a graduate from your programme will look like:

  • What skills do they possess?
  • What knowledge will they have?
  • What opportunities will be available to them?

What will an entrant to your programme look like?

  • What are their expectations?
  • What prior experience do they have?
  • Are they going to be campus-based, take part in blended learning or Distance Learning? If DL, where are your primary markets?
  • What are their accessibility needs?

There may be other considerations you need to make at this stage, such as sector accreditation and compliance with regulations and benchmarks.

Describing learning and teaching goals

When describing your learning and teaching goals, you may specify Aims, Objectives and Intended Learning Outcomes:

  • Aims are broad purposes or goals
  • Objectives describe the specific intentions of the teacher
  • Intended Learning Outcomes describe specific measurable achievements of a successful student

You will need to make sure that your content and assessment are aligned to the Intended Learning Outcomes, as described in the Focused design section.

Getting approval for a new programme

Depending on the nature and scale of your programme, there may be different requirements for getting approval. If you are unsure, ask your Academic Advisor.

Getting approval for a new programme is a two step process:

  1. Develop a business case: approved by the College and the University Fee Setting and Programme Development Committee
  2. Develop an academic case: approved by the Academic Policy Committee, delegated where appropriate to Programme Approval Panels

For more details of the process and paperwork required, see the Create a New Course page.

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