Taught programme approval

New or changed programmes must get formal approval before they are offered. The time this takes depends on the change and the programme. Get specific advice as early as possible from your QAT faculty contact.

A programme is a specified suite of academic modules leading to an award of the University.

Programmes are specified in detail in the programme catalogue. They must be ratified by the Taught Student Education Board (TSEB), which acts on the advice of Programme Approval Groups (PAGs) and School Taught Student Education Committees (STSECs).

New or amended programmes must be submitted and approved before students can be registered on the programme and it can be delivered.

Timelines and deadlines

The approval process timescales below are an approximate guide only. For specific advice and guidance about your school’s proposed new programme or amendment, please talk to your Quality Assurance team faculty contact as early as possible.

It is sometimes possible to fast-track an urgent programme proposal, but be aware that late proposals may not be accepted. Fast-tracked proposals receive the same level of scrutiny as any other proposal, from both executive and academic structures.

See timeline for taught programme approval.

New undergraduate programme

  • Initial discussion: should take place at faculty Portfolio Group meetings and at Annual School Review (Student Education) meetings 
  • Approval: March (18 months before entry)
  • Quality Check: at least 6 months before the programme commences.

New taught postgraduate programme

  • Initial discussion: should take place at faculty Portfolio Group meetings and at Annual School Review (Student Education) meetings  
  • Approval: October (12 months before entry)
  • Quality Check: at least 6 months before the programme commences.

New Distance Learning Provision

  • If you are offering distance learning provision, there are additional points to consider and you will need to discuss your proposal with the University Digital Learning Team. Please also refer to the University Distance Learning Policy for more information.

Major Amendments

  • As for new programmes (see above)

Minor Module/Programme amendments

  • 31 March in the session immediately preceding the session to which the changes apply.

Changes to programme entry requirements, or any other change affecting the recruitment cycle

  • March (18 months before entry on undergraduate programmes).

Withdrawal of a programme

  • Before the application cycle for that year has begun (usually March, 18 months before entry for UG programmes)

Initial proposal discussions

Discuss initial plans for new programmes at faculty Portfolio Group meetings and the school’s Annual School Review (Student Education) (in January/February).

The Faculty Executive Committee (or equivalent) should have the opportunity for strategic consideration and input into the proposal at an early stage.

Academic and executive approval

Proposals must have endorsement from:

  • executive (management) structures – signature of the Dean of the Faculty
  • the committee (academic) structure – from the Programme Approval Group (PAG)

The faculty executive is responsible for considering the proposal in terms of: risk management, market research, the strategic and financial framework. Discuss plans for new programmes with the faculty marketing manager and faculty finance manager at an early stage.

The PAG is responsible for considering academic coherence and viability.

Programme approval

Programme approval is proposed by the STSEC, approved by the PAG and ratified by TSEB.

The approval process seeks to ensure that the proposed programme is academically viable and sustainable, and that there is executive (management) support for its introduction. Schools are required to complete a programme proposal form, confirm the marketing and business case, and provide an external review (see new programme approval).  The PAG is responsible for academic approval of the programme. Following approval, the school must enter the programme onto the programme catalogue within five working days.  

Read New programme approval.

Quality Check

A Quality Check is undertaken at least 6 months before the programme commences (normally by the appropriate PAG).  At the Quality Check any new constituent module proposals are considered for approval, programme management arrangements are agreed, and the original programme documentation is reviewed to ensure that any issues have been addressed and all elements of the programme are fully aligned and deliverable. 

Read Quality Check.

Until a programme has been approved, students cannot be registered on it and boards of examiners cannot confer the programme award(s). This also applies to intermediate and "fallback" awards and variants.

Programme amendment

Programme amendments must be formally approved. This includes changes to the list of modules in the programme, or the programme requirements (eg making a module compulsory instead of optional).

You will need to take different actions, depending whether the amendments are major or minor – see below.

Read Programme amendment processes.

Executive (management) endorsement

Proposals must receive executive (management) endorsement before they can be considered by the relevant committee. They need to be endorsed as follows:

  • New programmes, or major amendments (those affecting programme structure, compulsory modules, or learning outcomes) - Director of Student Education, Head of School, Dean of Faculty
  • Withdrawal of a programme - Director of Student Education, Head of School, Dean of Faculty
  • Minor amendments (all other changes) - Director of Student Education

Academic (committee) approval

Authority for academic approval rests with different committees depending on the type of proposal:

Academic (committee) approval
 Type STSEC PAG TSEB
New programmes, or major amendments (those affecting programme structure, compulsory modules, or learning outcomes) Proposes Approves Ratifies
Withdrawal of a programme
Proposes Approves  Ratifies
Minor amendments (all other changes)
Approves  -  -

Ad hoc and ad personam programme variation

In exceptional circumstances, it may be necessary to make a time-limited amendment to a programme of study. This is known as a programme variation.

  • This is an ad personam programme variation where the exceptional circumstances relate to one student or a small number of individual students.
  • This is an ad hoc programme variation where the exceptional circumstances relate to an entire cohort of students.

Any ad personam or ad hoc programme variation must be approved by the relevant Pro-Dean for Student Education, acting on behalf of the Faculty Taught Student Education Committee (FTSEC).

Read Ad personam and ad hoc programme variation processes.

Withdrawal of a programme

Withdrawal or suspension of an existing programme of study for one or more sessions must be approved by the Taught Student Education Board (TSEB), acting on behalf of Senate.

The school seeks permission from the relevant Pro Dean for Student Education/Programme Approval Group (PAG) and then the TSEB ratifies the decision. Use the programme withdrawal form.

Read Taught programme withdrawal.