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 Portfolio Steering Group (PSG), 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.

See programme approval forms (taught programmes)

Timelines and deadlines

The approval process timescales below are an indicative guide only. All new programmes require executive approval before they can be developed for full academic approval. 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.  

New undergraduate programme

  • Initial discussion: should take place at faculty Portfolio Group meetings
  • Executive approval followed by full academic approval: completed and finalised at least 20 months before the programme commences 
  • Deadline for inclusion within CourseFinder: at least 18 months before the programme commences 
  • Quality Check: at least 6 months before the programme commences.

New taught postgraduate programme

  • Initial discussion: should take place at faculty Portfolio Group meetings   
  • Executive approval followed by full academic approval: completed and finalised 12-18 months before the programme commences
  • Deadline for inclusion within CourseFinder: at least 12 months before the programme commences 
  • Quality Check: at least 6 months before the programme commences.

New Distance Learning Provision

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

New Continuing Professional Development Provision

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

  • For undergraduate programmes January, 20 months before entry.
  • For postgraduate programmes 12-18 months before entry.

Withdrawal of a programme

  • Before the application cycle for that year has begun (usually January, 20 months before entry for UG programmes)

Initial proposal discussions

Discuss initial plans for new programmes at faculty Portfolio Group meetings.

The Faculty Executive Committee (or equivalent) should have the opportunity for strategic consideration and input into the proposal at an early stage. Faculty executive approval of the programme proposal is required before it can be developed for full academic approval. You should also consult with your Faculty Head of Marketing and Faculty Finance Manager about the programme at an early stage.

The programme approval process has two stages:

Executive programme approval

  • Stage 1 - executive approval. Robust up-front executive approval of a new programme is based on a strategic, marketing, financial and operational analysis of the proposal. The School completes Part A of the programme approval form, which requires the signature of the Faculty Dean, confirming that the Faculty Executive Committee supports development of the programme for full academic approval.   

Full academic programme approval

  • Stage 2 - full academic programme approval. The primary quality approval process which involves the school completing Part B of the programme approval form. This sets out the programme specification, learning outcomes and assessment map in detail. The STSEC endorses the proposal and it is then considered for full academic approval by the PAG. An External Review of the programme is required as part of this process.  

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 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. In exceptional cases a programme may need to be withdrawn within the recruitment cycle and approval from the Deputy Vice Chancellor is required.  
  • Minor amendments (all other changes) - Director of Student Education

Academic approval

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

Academic (committee) approval
 Type STSEC PAG PSG
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 Portfolio Steering Group, acting on behalf of Taught Student Education Board and Senate.

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

Read Taught programme withdrawal.