Periodic curriculum review

This section of the framework covers the internal periodic review of curriculum on a regular cycle.

Key reference points

Relevant benchmark statements, UWE Bristol Strategy 2020, QAA Quality Code, various Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRB).

Audience

Heads of Department, Programme Managers, Module Leaders, members of review panels, members of committees involved in the monitoring and review of academic provision.

Periodic curriculum review section documents and templates

View periodic curriculum review section documents and templates and quality process sheets.

Periodic curriculum review sections

  1. Scope and Principles
  2. Key roles and responsibilities
  3. Curriculum required to undergo periodic curriculum review
  4. Preparation for periodic curriculum review 
  5. Periodic curriculum review event
  6. Pilot periodic curriculum review
  7. Annex
  8. Section documents and templates

1. Scope and principles

This section of the Quality Management and Enhancement Framework outlines the purpose of Periodic Curriculum Review, the process of review and the reporting of outcomes.

The University requires that all of its taught provision is reviewed and reapproved at least every six years.  Periodic Curriculum Review is a peer-based process which focuses on critical reflection on qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate the academic health of the taught curriculum.  The process operates on a rolling six year cycle and the outcome is the production of a forward-looking action plan in support of the continued enhancement and development of the curriculum.

Periodic Curriculum Review takes place at programme level and each review should encompass a group of related programmes, such as a subject cluster or the provision of a Department.  However, reviews should be proportionate and clearly focused, so it may be appropriate for large or complex subject areas to be sub-divided into more than one review. 

In exceptional circumstances specific reviews may be delayed by one academic session on the authority of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) or nominee. They may also be brought forward at the request of the Faculty Executive or the Vice-Chancellor’s Directorate. This might occur, for example, as a result of the annual planning round where a subject is highlighted as an area of concern.

2. Key roles and responsibilities

Key individuals

a) The Curriculum Review and Accreditation Manager (CRA Manager) has oversight and management of the University’s Periodic Curriculum Review cycle and is a primary source of advice on the review process and on engagement with PSRBs. The CRA Manager will liaise with the Faculty Associate Dean (Learning Teaching and the Student Experience) and the Head of Department (or nominees) regarding the coordination, preparation and undertaking of review activity and is responsible for assigning a Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team Officer to support each review.
b) The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Team Officer (LTET Officer) will liaise with all those involved in the process to provide advice and guidance; act as a panel member; ensure the smooth running of the activity and coordinate the production of any required documentation.
c) The Faculty Quality Account Manager, in liaison with the LTET Officer, will provide guidance on curriculum approval matters relating to the review activity.  
d) The Review Team will be constituted according to the scope and requirements of the review but is likely to include the Programme Leader(s), Head/Associate Head of Department, Module Leader(s) and appropriate Professional Service Staff. The Review Team will engage with critical self-reflection and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data in order to assess programme evolution and change over the period since the last review and plan for future enhancement and developments. This will include the production of a Critical Evaluation Document (CED). 
e) A peer Review Panel will be formed to scrutinise the CED and supporting documentation. The Review Panel will provide comments and may request further information for clarification. At the end of the event the Review Panel will present a judgment of their level of confidence in the provision and make a recommendation to the Curriculum Approval Panel.

Committees

a) Faculty Academic Standards and Quality Committees (ASQC) have an overview of Periodic Curriculum Review activity for the Faculty and will receive notification of the outcome of each review.  It is responsible for monitoring action plans resulting from review activity and will highlight good practice or issues requiring enhancement to the Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee (LTSEC) as appropriate. Faculty ASQCs will also receive, on an annual basis, a summary of expected reviews for the forthcoming academic year. 
b) The University Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee (LTSEC) receives an annual report of all completed review activity in the University and undertakes to identify any themes that may emerge for University action. 
c) The Faculty Curriculum Approval Panel (CAP) receives and considers the recommendation of the Review Panel.  It will also be asked to consider for approval any updated documentation following appropriate recommendations for amendment to curriculum provision.
d) Academic Board has responsibility for setting mechanisms for assuring the quality and standards of provision in the University and delegates the oversight of review activity to LTSEC.

3. Curriculum required to undergo periodic curriculum review

All taught programmes undergo review except where they are subject to rigorous review by a Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB).  In this case, the outcomes of the PSRB activity should form part of the evidence base for the review of the programme cluster to which the professionally accredited programme belongs. The CRA Manager advises upon which accredited programmes can be excluded from review.

Where a programme has ceased to recruit but still has students registered, it may be included in the review of a programme cluster.  If there is no suitable cluster review scheduled before the programme closes, it is not necessary for the programme to undergo review but a Programme Report must be produced, as part of the normal monitoring and enhancement cycle.   

4. Preparation for periodic curriculum review

See Process Sheet QPS 60 for a detailed breakdown of activity, roles and responsibilities.

The foundation of Periodic Curriculum Review is critical reflection upon a number of key indicators of quality assurance and enhancement.  Documentation (see section 4.2 below) demonstrating engagement with these indicators forms an evidence base which underpins this reflection and informs the completion of the CED produced by the Review Team. 

The emphasis of the process is upon evaluation and enhancement of student achievement of the appropriate academic standards and of the learning opportunities offered to students so that they are able to achieve those academic standards.

4.1 Critical evaluation document

The CED reflects on the following areas:

  • Rationale for the provision
  • Planned developments for the provision, including any proposed changes to the curriculum
  • Annual monitoring and evaluation
  • Recruitment and admissions
  • Learning teaching and assessment strategies
  • Student support
  • Staff development and scholarly activity
  • Conclusion and action plan

The CED and the supporting evidence base should demonstrate:

  • That academic standards continue to be met;
  • That the quality of teaching and learning opportunities remain appropriate;
  • Reaffirmation, or details of the required revision, of the subject/programme educational aims and learning outcomes;
  • How quality assurance processes have played a part in assuring academic standards and supporting continuous improvement;
  • That the provision remains aligned to the University’s mission and strategic priorities and to external market needs;
  • Evidence of good practice and innovation;
  • The strengths of the provision under review and identify any opportunities for enhancement;
  • Any areas of the provision in need of change or improvement, together with the steps being taken to address these;
  • How staff engaged in the programmes and wider subject area are enabled to evaluate the standards achieved by students and the quality of the learning opportunities offered to them;
  • A clearly articulated relationship between research, teaching and learning and links with the University’s policies and strategies;
  • Continuing external benchmarking (including alignment with QAA subject benchmark statements and professional body requirements where applicable);
  • Continuing validity of programme level educational aims and learning outcomes when compared against the FHEQ level descriptors and UK threshold academic standards;
  • Analysis and summary of resources and requirements to support a forward agenda;
  • That reference has been made to the graduate outcomes identified in the QAA guidance, especially with regard to ESD - Prompts are available;
  • That the content and presentation of the programme/module specifications provide adequate, accurate information.

4.2 The evidence base

  • Previous curriculum review report and action plan or minutes/report of approval with accompanying recommendations, commendations etc;
  • Programme specification(s) with accompanying change logs;
  • Module specifications with accompanying change logs (a representative sample, but all compulsory modules as a minimum);
  • Department and programme annual monitoring reports for the last three years;
  • External examiner reports for the last three years, including the response to the examiner;
  • Programme handbook(s);
  • Module handbooks (a representative sample, but all compulsory modules as a minimum);
  • Teaching staff CVs;
  • Student Rep/Staff forum (or other student forum) minutes;
  • Outcome reports of any PSRB activity.

The following documentation is not a formal requirement, but the review panel may request them or the review team may wish to make them available to the panel:

  • UWE Bristol Strategy 2020;
  • Staff development plan;
  • Examples of assessment briefs/examination papers;
  • Examples of assessment feedback forms;
  • A sample of dissertation/project titles;
  • Minutes or notes of employer/industry advisory boards.

4.3 The review team


The Review Team works collaboratively to:

  • Evaluate existing qualitative and quantitative data about the provision to be reviewed;
  • Write the Critical Evaluation Document and draw together supporting documents;
  • Meet with the review panel at the review event;
  • Develop the resulting forward looking action plan;
  • Implement the strategic changes identified in the action plan.   

The team comprises representatives from the Faculty Executive, those academics and Professional/Technical Services staff who contribute to the delivery of the programme, collaborative partners (where appropriate) and Academic Services. Membership of the review team can be extended to include specialists from outside the Faculty whose role would be to contribute reflection on specific aspects of the provision, for instance technology enhanced learning, sustainability, internationalisation, employability or work based learning.   

Review team: roles and responsibilities and indicative membership

Membership Roles and Responsibilities
Review team leader Co-ordinate the Review Team
Oversee the Review Team and delegation of tasks
Oversee completion of the Critical Evaluation Document
Ensure that required quantitative and qualitative information is available to the team and reflected upon
Ensure documentation is completed to the agreed standard
Nominate the Review Panel’s external member(s)
Provide names and contact details of current students, graduates and stakeholders (as appropriate) to the LTET Officer so that a meeting can be arranged with the Review Panel at the Event
Ensure the implementation of the resulting forward looking action plan
Academic / University Professional / Technical Services staff who contribute to the delivery of the provision under review Reflect on the quantitative and qualitative information
Contribute to the Critical Evaluation Document
Draw together supporting information
LTET Officer Contribute to the production of the Critical Evaluation Document and supporting evidence base
Provide advice on regulations and procedures, University Policies and strategies etc
Act as a member of the Review Panel
Head of Department Oversight of the provision
Strategic input into future direction of the provision
Sign off of Critical Evaluation Document
Modular Scheme Directors  (postgraduate /undergraduate as appropriate) Oversee the development of the proposal from a modular scheme perspective (e.g. ensuring that where existing modules are changed, the impact on other programmes is identified)
Contribute to production of the Critical Evaluation Document
Review the module/programme specifications and revise as necessary  

Where collaborative provision is included in the review

Appropriate representative from the Partner Contribute to Partner Critical Evaluation Document
Contribute to meetings as appropriate (potentially via video conference)
Link Tutor  Provide liaison between the collaborative partner and UWE

4.4 The review panel

Periodic Curriculum Review is a peer assessed process and the Panel is therefore composed of internal UWE panel members; external subject experts; industry experts; employers and service users and carers (as appropriate). The membership of a Review Panel is set out in the table below.

The Review Team is asked to nominate external panel members using the Periodic Curriculum Review External Panel Member Nomination Form. The membership of the Periodic Curriculum Review Panel will be approved by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic (or their nominee).

Composition of the review panel

Member Constituency  Nomination and Approval
Chair A senior member of University staff (an AVC, PVC, Executive Dean or Associate Dean) external to the Faculty. If collaborative provision is involved the Chair should have recent experience in this area. Appointed by DVC Academic or their nominee
Internal Panel members At least two members with experience of programme development (of which one must be from the Faculty in which the subject being reviewed is located, but not from the same department and one from another Faculty). Members may be drawn from the Faculty Curriculum Approval Panels.
The Panel may also include colleagues from collaborative partners. If collaborative provision is being reviewed at least one internal panel member should have experience of collaborative provision.  
Appointed by DVC Academic or their nominee
External Academic Panel Member(s)  An independent subject expert from another institution. 
The number of external academic panel members will depend on the size and complexity of the subject area being reviewed.
Nominated by the Review Team and Associate Dean
Approved by DVC Academic or their nominee
External Stakeholders If the subject area includes curriculum that is significantly vocational / practical in nature then it may be desirable to have a panel member with direct industrial / employer / service user experience.
Such panel members must be distinct from those consulted by the Panel as part of the Event meetings.
Nominated by the Review Team and Associate Dean Approved by DVC Academic or their nominee
Professional Services Representative As appropriate to the curriculum under review.   
LTET Officer Will support the Review Team in creating the CED, act as a Panel Member, take notes at the Review Event and produce the final report of the Review. Appointed by the Curriculum Review and Accreditation Manager
Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body Panel Member It may be necessary to include representatives of Professional, Statutory & Regulatory Bodies The Review Team should indicate the PSRB(s) that should be invited

4.5 Role of the review panel

This section discusses the role of the Panel, please also see PCR 6 Periodic Curriculum Review Panel Terms of Reference.

The Review Panel’s role is to scrutinise the CED and supporting evidence; participate in the Review Event; comment on the proposed forward agenda and make recommendations to the University on the continuing approval of the curriculum.

Review members who are internal to UWE have a particular role to play with regard to their evaluation of the subject area’s / Department’s implementation of University policies and strategies. External reviewers have an important role to play in ensuring the academic soundness and objectivity of the review process. 

4.6 Potential lines of enquiry for the review panel 

Prior to the event, the Review Panel will consider the CED and supporting evidence base to develop lines of enquiry to allow them to make the required judgements on the curriculum.  The Panel should include consideration of the following:

a) Resources

Main sources of evidence: Annual Monitoring Reports, Annual Collaborative provision reports, staff academic profiles, meeting with students

  • The appropriateness of learning resources and staffing to support the programmes, including collaborative partners
  • Evidence of appropriate staff development and scholarly activity
  • The management of staff development with collaborative partners

b) Rationale and Development of the Portfolio

Main source of evidence: Critical Evaluation Document

  • The position of the subject provision within the Faculty is clear
  • The coherence of the strategy for future development of the provision and its alignment with University strategies
  • The rationale for the involvement and any future expansion of collaborative partners and management of this provision
  • Any developments involving collaborative partners; how are these being managed?

c) Curricula

Main sources of evidence: Programme specifications, module specifications, Critical Evaluation Document, staff academic profiles

  • The design and curriculum of each programme remain appropriate, particularly with regard to changes made since approval or the last academic review
  • The continuing validity of programme level educational aims and learning outcomes when compared against the FHEQ level descriptors and UK threshold academic standards
  • Is there evidence of continued external benchmarking (including alignment with QAA subject benchmark statements and professional body requirements, where applicable) and consideration of industry and employer requirements?
  • Staff research and scholarly activity has informed the continuous development of the programmes
  • The extent to which colleagues from collaborative partners have been involved in the development of the programmes
  • Changes in staff/staff expertise and the impact of this on the curriculum
  • Changes with regard to collaborative partners and the impact of this on the curriculum
  • Student feedback has informed the continuous development of the curriculum. Comparison of student feedback across different sites of delivery
  • Employer/industry involvement in the development of the programmes (particularly with regard to foundation degrees)

d) Learning Teaching and Assessment Strategies

Main sources of evidence: programme specifications, module specifications, external examiner reports, Critical Evaluation Document, meeting with students and alumni, Annual Programme Reports from Collaborative Provision, Annual Monitoring

  • Learning, teaching and assessment strategies remain appropriate, including for collaborative partners. To what extent do they vary across different sites of delivery?
  • Learning, teaching and assessment strategies have taken account of developments within the subject and with new and/or revised University policies and strategies
  • Student feedback on learning, teaching and assessment has informed their continuous development
  • How is the Academic Personal Tutor programme delivered across the programmes?
  • How is employability integrated into the learning, teaching and assessment strategies?
  • Are appropriate standards being maintained (with particular reference to external examiner reports and Annual Monitoring)? How have these been maintained across different sites of delivery?
  • Is there evidence of reflection on student achievement? Has student achievement across different sites of delivery been compared?

e) For Review including Collaborative Provision

  • All of the above must be considered plus the following:
  • How are quality and standards maintained and measured between the Faculty and their collaborative partners?
  • Do resources (staffing, facilities, Library, IT resources) remain appropriate
  • How effectively is the partnership working to provide an appropriate student experience?

5. The periodic curriculum review event


During the Review Event the Review Team will make a presentation and respond to the lines of enquiry identified by the Panel.  This process should be seen as primarily a developmental rather than a judgmental process, with the Review Panel engaging in constructive dialogue with the Review Team in order to produce a forward looking action plan.

The Review Panel will meet with a representative group of current students, normally from each programme being reviewed.  Where collaborative provision is involved it is essential that students from these partners are invited to attend the meeting. If students are unable to attend, other mechanisms, such as video conferencing, must be found in order to give these students the opportunity to feed back on their experience.  This meeting should focus upon:

  • Orientation to the University’s Academic Regulations and Procedures and other policies, particularly if they are studying at a partner institution.
  • The accuracy of information supplied to them both during recruitment and during their studies.
  • The adequacy of the learning resources provided to students on each programme.
  • The appropriateness of the learning, teaching and assessment strategies.
  • The range of assessment methods used.
  • The adequacy and timeliness of feedback to students on assessed work.
  • Feedback on the Academic Personal Tutor support.
  • The skills developed during the programme and their perceived suitability for employment.
  • Feedback on careers advice.
  • The availability and supportiveness of tutors for both academic and pastoral advice.
  • Mechanisms for student representation on committees or working groups.
  • Mechanisms for student evaluation and feedback, and whether the students feel that their views are taken into account by the programme team in the development and operation of the programme (especially the National Student Survey and the UWE Student Experience Survey).
  • How the experience of students at partner institutions relates to all of the above.

Meetings with employers, service users and carers, mentors and other stakeholders will be undertaken as appropriate to the curriculum under review and will focus upon:

  • Whether the curriculum content and design is informed by relevant occupational or professional requirements and meets employer / industry/service users and carers needs.
  • The quality of learning opportunities and resources.
  • Whether the provision provides a suitable foundation for students to achieve a successful graduate level employability outcome.
  • Whether placement opportunities (where appropriate) are available and suitable / relevant for the programme / industry
  • What could be done to enhance the provision in terms of employability.

Depending on the type of provision under review, it may be necessary for the Review Panel to view facilities and evaluate their appropriateness.  Where collaborative provision is included in the review, the Panel may need to visit the partner to view their facilities and meet with students and staff. It may also be necessary to timetable separate visits before or after the main Review Event. Alternatively, video conferencing and other technology may be used to allow the Review Panel virtual access to facilities and students and staff.

See Quality Process Sheet QPS31 for an indicative review event agenda.

Outcomes of the Periodic Curriculum Review

5.1 Recommendations and judgements


At the end of the Event, the Review Panel will be asked to make a judgment and recommendations as set out below.

The Review Panel makes a recommendation to the Faculty Curriculum Approval Panel on re-approval of the provision for a further six years as follows:

  • Approval
  • Approval with recommendation(s)
  • Non-approval

The Review Panel will also make specific judgements (complete confidence, broad confidence, limited confidence and no confidence) on the provision they have reviewed as follows:

Academic standards continue to be met

  • The Review Panel has complete confidence that academic standards continue to be met
  • The Review Panel has broad confidence that academic standards continue to be met, but there are specified concerns in some areas
  • The Review Panel has limited confidence that academic standards continue to be met and there are substantial specified concerns in some areas
  • The Review Panel has no confidence that academic standards continue to be met (the Review Panel should detail the reasons for this judgment)

The quality of the learning opportunities remains appropriate

  • The Review Panel has complete confidence that the quality of the learning opportunities remain appropriate
  • The Review Panel has broad confidence that the quality of the learning opportunities remain appropriate, but there are specified concerns in some areas
  • The Review Panel has limited confidence that the quality of the learning opportunities remain appropriate and there are specified substantial concerns in some areas
  • The Review Panel has no confidence that the quality of the learning opportunities remain appropriate (the Review Panel should detail the reasons for this judgment)

The programme remains aligned with the FHEQ and relevant benchmark statements

  • The Review Panel has complete confidence that the programme remains aligned with the FHEQ and relevant benchmark statements
  • The Review Panel has broad confidence that the programme remains aligned with the FHEQ and relevant benchmark statements , but there are specified concerns in some areas
  • The Review Panel has limited confidence the programme remains aligned with the FHEQ and relevant benchmark statements and there are substantial specified concerns in some areas
  • The Review Panel has no confidence the programme remains aligned with the FHEQ and relevant benchmark statements (the Review Panel should detail the reasons for this judgment)

The Review Panel will also consider the appropriateness of the Review Team’s initial action plan for future development of the programme(s) and will endorse or make recommendations in relation to this and the judgments above in their report.

If serious concerns are raised by the Review Panel in returning a judgment of limited confidence and/or no confidence with regard to academic standards or the quality of the learning opportunities of provision, Academic Board will be informed and recruitment to one or more programmes may be suspended.  In this case, a follow up Review will be arranged.  This will be used to identify that clear progress has been made with the agreed action plan and that confidence or broad confidence can now be placed on the academic standards and quality of the provision.

5.2 Reporting and action plan monitoring

In response to the Review outcome and recommendations, the Review Team will update and enhance its initial action plan provided as part of the CED.  The final action plan will address the recommendations and outcomes of the Review. 

A Review Report and Notification of Outcome will be produced by the LTET Officer and approved by the full Review Panel.  The report and Notification will be received by the Faculty Curriculum Approval Panel for endorsement of the recommendation for reapproval or otherwise.  The report, outcome and finalised action plan will be received and monitored by the Faculty ASQC

Changes to programmes and modules, informed by the recommendations of the Review Panel will be considered and approved by the Faculty Curriculum Approval Panel. All other recommendations should be addressed through the Faculty Annual Monitoring process.

The CRA Manager, in collaboration with the Curriculum Enhancement Manager, will analyse all reports and action plans and prepare an annual report for LTSEC.

6. Pilot periodic curriculum review

During 2014/15 and 2015/16 two pilots are being undertaken:

  1. Enhancement and formalisation of student engagement with review through recruitment and training programme for Student Panel Members
  2. A holistic and risk based Review process with increased emphasis on the enhancement agenda and reduction of unnecessary administrative burden.

For further information please contact the Curriculum Review and Accreditation Manager. 

7. Annex

Antecedents:

  • Approved by Academic Board 7 December 2011
  • For implementation January 2012
  • V1.1 Operational update August 2013
  • V1.2 Operational update July 2015


Log of operational changes made to QMEF Handbook Periodic Review Section

Version Section Change
1.1

4

Removal of requirement for Business Intelligence (BI) to produce data for the CED.
  4 Clarification that the normal cycle for review is six years (noted in our Mid-cycle QAA Review that this was disclosed as five or six years in different parts of the QMEF. Agreed, following that mid-cycle review that normal cycle was six years.
  6 Clarified that Review Panel reports to faculty ASQC.
General update of wording and re-organisation of sections in preparation of website deployment.
1.2 All Update of terminology and enhancements to process.

8. Section documents and templates

Templates

Quality process sheets

 

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