New Programme Approval

Approval of a new programme is proposed by the School Taught Student Education Committee, approved by the Programme Approval Group and ratified by the Portfolio Steering Group.

The steps you need to take to full approval are outlined below.

See also the timeline for taught programme approval

Step 1 – complete programme proposal form

Download and complete in full the appropriate programme proposal form, using the relevant guidance notes:

Module proposal forms for any new module on the progamme are not required at this stage, but they will inform the Quality Check and can be developed following approval of the programme framework.  

Step 2 – obtain external review 

All proposals for new programmes or major programme amendments (see definition) need to be reviewed by an independent discipline expert. The proposing school or faculty arranges this. The report from the independent review forms part of the proposal. External reviewers should normally:

  • be currently employed in higher education at the rank of professor, reader or senior lecturer
  • be from within the European Economic Area
  • have significant teaching experience in higher education within the UK
  • not currently be, or have been in the past five years, a student, member of staff or research collaborator.

Any exceptions to these criteria should be agreed in advance with the faculty Pro-Dean for Student Education.

External reviewers are paid a fee of £200 by the proposing school/faculty on submission of their report. Payments are subject to UK national insurance and income tax. Use the External review of a programme form.

Step 3 – STSEC consideration

Submit for STSEC consideration:

  • the programme proposal, which sets out the programme framework and specification
  • an external review and an appropriate response to this. 

School and STSEC responsibilities

For each award (including separately, for each fallback/intermediate award and any proposed variants) the proposing school is responsible for ensuring that:

  • Learning outcomes are specific, meaningful, achievable, relevant to the programme subject matter, at the appropriate level for each award and clearly differentiated between all intermediate/fallback awards and variants.
  • The programme is supported by the research strengths of the school and the curriculum is informed by recent scholarship and research.
  • For UG provision, the programme meets the minimum requirements for the Leeds Curriculum. 
  • All of the documentation comprising the programme proposal is complete, including the full module proposals for any associated new modules (these can be approved at the Quality Check or earlier at programme approval stage).
  • For a new programme (or major programme amendment), an external review is obtained and the proposal includes an appropriate response to the review.
  • For an amended programme, a written explanation and rationale for the change is provided.
  • Consultation takes place with schools/departments whose modules form part of the programme’s core or optional elements, or where there is significant disciplinary overlap (especially in relation to programme/module titles).
  • A named programme leader is identified.
  • The proposal is endorsed by the Head of School and Faculty Dean.
  • For proposals involving another school or faculty, it is endorsed by the Head of School and Faculty Dean.
  • The proposal is explicitly endorsed by STSEC (ie STSEC minutes separately list each proposed/amended award/fallback/variant).
  • All fields in the catalogue are complete within 5 working days following approval and include final details of the proposals (data must be meaningful and accurate, free from spelling or grammatical errors, and appropriate for a student audience).

What school and STSEC endorsement means

Endorsement of the new programme proposal confirms the school and STSEC’s agreement that:

  • the requirements above have been met
  • the proposal is academically sound and administratively complete

even if the check on requirements was delegated to sub-groups and/or professional staff.

Step 4 – Programme Approval Group (PAG) consideration

Once STSEC has endorsed the proposal, submit the following documentation electronically to the Quality Assurance Team (QAT) faculty contact, who will arrange for PAG consideration:

  • the programme proposal form
  • an external review and an appropriate response to this
  • if available, any new module proposals for the new programme 
  • the STSEC minutes which endorse the proposal
  • a completed PAG coversheet, providing a brief rationale for the proposal

The programme/module structure is considered fixed once the programme is approved and it will be included in the University prospectus and coursefinder.

Once approved by the PAG the following programme elements cannot be changed:

  • the award, title and programme duration;

  • the level and credit weighting of compulsory and optional modules;

  • indicative programme learning outcomes;

  • indicative learning and teaching. 

PAG responsibilities

For each award (including separately, for each fallback/intermediate award and any proposed variants) the PAG will ensure that:

  • The programme fits with the faculty’s strategic interests and academic vision.
  • The programme has been discussed and recommended for approval by the relevant STSEC.
  • The programme proposal is complete and includes appropriate endorsement from the Head of School and Faculty Dean, and the equivalent for programmes involving another school or faculty.
  • An external review and appropriate school response are supplied.
  • The learning outcomes are at the appropriate level for each award and in proportion with those for other awards at the level within related disciplines.
  • The programme structure is coherent and will allow the learning outcomes to be met.
  • For UG proposals, the programme meets the requirements of the Leeds Curriculum. 

Step 5 – Compile module proposal form(s) for STSEC endorsement

If not already included under step 4, the school can now develop any new constituent modules proposals for endorsement by their STSEC.

Complete module proposal form, using the accompanying guidance for proposing a new module.

STSECs should consider and endorse the new module proposal(s) and consider these alongside the original programme proposal, ensuring that any outstanding issues have been addressed so that the programme presents a coherent package for the Quality Check.

Step 6 – Quality Check

Once STSEC has endorsed the new constituent module proposal(s) and ensured that all elements of the programme documentation are complete and deliverable, send the following to your QA faculty contact:

  • the new module proposal(s); 
  • the finalised programme proposal form (if any changes have been made since the PAG, which should be highlighted);
  • an update on any issues raised at the PAG.

The QA faculty contact will arrange a Quality Check for the programme, which is normally undertaken by the appropriate PAG.  At the Quality Check the new modules will be considered for approval, programme management arrangements will be agreed and the original programme documentation will be reviewed to ensure that any issues have been addressed and the programme is fully aligned and deliverable. 

Read Quality Check, which includes the Quality Checklist that will be applied to all new programme proposals.

Step 7 – Following PAG approval/Quality Check 

Following approval, schools must ensure that the finalised programme and module information is entered onto the catalogue, within 5 working days. All fields in the catalogue report must be correctly completed (with meaningful and accurate data, free from spelling or grammatical errors, and appropriate for a student audience).

Guidance information to help you enter proposal information (eg about data fields) is within the catalogue system. It is important you enter the proposal information directly into the catalogue because it links with other systems (such as the web catalogue, coursefinder, admissions systems and Banner). The catalogue has inbuilt checks and "help" text to make sure it gets the data needed for these systems.

Once the catalogue entry is complete the programme will be "made live" for application and registration within Banner. At the same time, the Portfolio Steering group ratifies the programme approval.

Programme approval process – helpful points

  • The programme title supplied will be the exact wording which appears on the award certificate.
  • Where an award is available in part-time mode you should specify the sequence in which modules must be taken on the module listing.
  • Where a variant award is offered the certificate will carry the relevant wording, eg BA British Tourism (Industry). Variant awards will be ‘(Industry)’ ‘(International)’ or'(Enterprise)'; other variants are not permitted. Variant awards must be specified separately to the main award.
  • Where the school wishes to offer an ordinary variant of an undergraduate programme, this must be specified as a variant separately to the related honours award.
  • The programme leader must be a permanent member of University staff on a contract which involves teaching responsibilities.
  • Where a programme (or part of a programme) can be taken by distance learning, information on how it will operate in practice and the specific support arrangements need to be included in the general statement and/or in the section on distinctiveness. Schools need to consult with the University Digital Learning Team on any such developments at an early stage
  • A proposing school must consult other schools whose modules form part of the programme’s core or optional elements, to ensure that the additional numbers can be accommodated and that the module will continue to be offered in its current format.
  • Schools proposing a new programme title which might be linked to another discipline must consult the school concerned. Unresolved programme title issues will be forwarded to the Taught Portfolio Steering Group for resolution.
  • Where a collaborative programme involves an external institution partner in the programme delivery, there are additional requirements. Schools must not enter into an agreement of any nature for delivery of a programme with another institution or organisation. Any such legal agreements will be organised through the procedures for collaborative provision and signed by the University Secretary.
  • Where the new programme will be overseen by an existing external examiner, please check that the additional workload is acceptable within the University procedures relating to external examiners, and get agreement with the examiner.
  • For subject benchmark statements, it is not expected that a programme will comply with all the specifications of a subject benchmark. However, the proposing school needs to evidence its consideration against the relevant benchmark(s) and include justification of omissions/additions.
  • The Head of School/Dean endorsement(s) on the proposal form confirm that the programme will further the school's academic development and that adequate school resources are available to deliver it. If additional resources are required these must be highlighted in the general statement.
  • For programmes delivered with another school/faculty, the signature of the Head of School/Dean from which the school is collaborating confirms their endorsement of the programme and contribution to its delivery.