Annual Review of Taught Programmes

Departmental process

Course Leaders review the individual courses which contributed to the programme, using information on student performance and issues identified by students and external examiners. The outcomes from the course reviews are recorded in typescript on Course Unit Report Forms, which can be generated using an InfoView Report provided by the Student Administration.

Members of the programme team review the programme using the Course Unit Report Forms, information on student performance and issues identified by students and external examiners. Departments should have responded to issues raised by the external examiners using the College’s External Examiner Response Form.The team should also consider progress on action points identified in the previous year's review, and in any recent reviews by external organisations.

Outcomes from the programme review are recorded in typescript on a Taught Annual Review Report Form(PGT)/Taught Annual Review Report Form(UG). Normally the outcomes for all programmes included in the review are summarised on the same form, provided that the programmes are treated individually in the text where relevant. Departments have the option of completing one form for each programme if this is considered to be easier.

It is good practice for departments to discuss the outcomes of the annual review with student representatives at a meeting of the student-staff committee, although this will normally happen after the department's report has been submitted to the faculty.

Faculty process

The outcomes of the departmental process are scrutinised by Faculty Panels, normally comprising the Faculty Dean (Chair), the Associate Dean(s) (Education) and the Faculty Assistant Registrar (Secretary), which report on their findings to the Faculty Boards. From 2010 an element of peer review has been incorporated into the process as a pilot (see below). The purpose of this scrutiny is:

  • to ensure that self assessment within departments has addressed effectively the achievement of learning outcomes and the views of students, visiting examiners and external reviewers;
  • to identify issues of general concern or interest to the faculty, including good practice;
  • to monitor progress on action plans.

Panels are provided with the following principal documentation:

  • Taught Annual Review Report Forms;
  • external examiners' reports, with departments' responses;
  • minutes of student-staff committee meetings;
  • data on student progress and achievement;
  • reports and action plans arising from any recent internal and external reviews of provision within the Faculty.
  • Equal opportunities reports. (Only for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught annual reviews).

Since 2010, the Faculties have piloted  a peer review process to scrutinise the Annual Review forms. This is conducted by nominated representatives from each department in the specific Faculty. For the Undergraduate Annual Review this is normally either the Academic Co-ordinator or the Head of Department. For the Post-graduate Taught review it is normally a programme director from each department. The precise arrangements for managing this process are determined by the Dean of the Faculty.  

It is expected that Panels will adopt a light touch in their engagement with departments where it is justified, although it is recognised that audit trails can also function as a support mechanism, or be used to monitor the Annual Review process itself. More intensive interaction between Panels and departments may therefore arise:

  • where any of the principal documentation is missing, incomplete or inadequate in its coverage of key areas or in the level of self assessment;
  • where the programme has been newly validated or revalidated;
  • for the purposes of sampling.

Heads of Department can be asked to respond and report on progress in respect of any concerns identified during the review. This process may go through a number of iterations until the Dean is satisfied with the outcome.

The Panel collectively determines the content of its report to the Faculty Board. Sensitive issues should not be excluded, but reported in a way which is appropriate, yet allows the Faculty Board to monitor progress. The Report is drafted by the Panel Secretary and circulated to all Panel members for comment, in the light of which the Dean agrees a final draft for submission to the Faculty Board, to include:

  • a brief summary of the process followed, and recommendations for improvement where appropriate;
  • examples of good practice,
  • generic issues which would benefit from further discussion across the Faculty or the College;
  • any substantive issues relating to individual departments about which the Faculty Board should be informed.

Responsibility for the operation of the Annual Review process lies formally with the Faculty Board. The role of Faculty Board when considering the Faculty Annual Review Report will therefore be:

  • to satisfy itself that the Panel conducted its business within its remit and with due rigour;
  • to advise on any issues identified during the review and the appropriateness of proposed action;
  • to remit matters of institutional concern to the Learning Teaching and Quality Committee;
  • to assist in the spread of good practice.

Sufficient time should be allowed on the agenda for discussion, and progress in relation to ongoing issues should be reviewed at subsequent meetings. Members take issues and examples of good practice back to their departments for discussion. This is further enhanced through discussions which take place in the newly-established Faculty Teaching Groups. Members of the Faculty Board may view any of the principal documentation used in the review on application to the Academic Quality and Policy Office, and may request to see further documentation from departments in consultation with the Dean of Faculty. If the Faculty Board does not have confidence in the work of the Panel, it can refer matters back, or report its concerns to the Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee with recommendations for action.

Institutional process

The key issues arising from the Faculty-level review are considered by the Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee, which has primary responsibility for the maintenance of academic quality and standards on behalf of the College. 

Responsibility for the quality and standards of the undergraduate and postgraduate taught academic provision lies with the College's Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee (LTQC) whilst this responsibility for postgraduate research provision lies with the Research Degrees Programmes Committee (RDPC). Issues may be remitted to other  committees and areas of the College for action, where appropriate.  The LTQC and RDPC will monitor actions arising from the annual review in relation to Faculty and College matters. This is further enhanced by the Faculty Boards which carries out any actions identified for the Faculty. The Faculty Dean/Vice Principal, as Chair of the Faculty Board, is responsible for monitoring the implementation of departmental-level actions.

The Academic Board monitors that the annual review has taken place and in accordance with the agreed procedures. The Board also notes any good practice which has been highlighted during the process. Consideration of the key issues, however, is delegated to the Learning, Teaching and Quality Committee (for UG and PGT) and the Research Degrees Programmes Committee (for PGR).

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