Setting Up a New Short Programme


A Short Programme is one or more credit rated modules, grouped together for Continual Professional Development (CPD) or for general education purposes, which do not, in themselves, lead to an award or recordable qualification of Queen Margaret University. Short Programmes typically comprise one or more modules at SCQF level seven or above, usually up to a maximum of 60 credits.

Although in some cases credit from short programmes may be used towards another QMU award, these programmes normally stand outside validated programmes and are taken by students as a self-contained package of learning for their own personal or professional development.

Approval procedures for collaborative short programmes are similar to those for full programmes but there are some differences because of the smaller scale of the award. As with full collaborative programmes, there are two elements to the process: (1) approval of the partner organisation and strategic business case; and (2) academic approval of the programme.

The procedure for approving new short programmes with partners is currently under review. Please consult the staff of Governance and Quality Enhancement for advice. 

For information, the previous procedure is set out below. The documents to be provided are:

  • Short Programme Approval form
  • Risk assessment
  • Information on costing and likely income

The requirement for a site visit will be considered on a case to case basis. The type of evidence required will be based on the University’s prior experience of the partner organisation, the number of modules for which approval is sought and level of risk.

As with full programmes, proposals must first gain the support of the Dean and a Collaborative Academic Lead (CAL) must be appointed. The CAL should work with staff of Governance and Quality Enhancement (GQE) to prepare the documents for PDG. GQE staff will prepare the costing, which must be approved through pFACT.

Once PDG grants approval for the programme and the partner, the proposal proceeds to the School Academic Board for academic approval. No validation event is required, unless there are special reasons for holding one – eg to align with PSB approval processes.

The following documentation is submitted to the School Academic Board:

  • Short Programme Approval Form
  • Risk assessment
  • Statement on arrangements for management of the collaboration
  • CVs of teaching staff
  • Module descriptor(s)

Contact the partnerships team within Governance and Quality Enhancement for assistance with these forms.

For groups of modules a Programme Specification that sets out the overall aims and outcomes of the short programme may also be appropriate – guidance on this is available from Governance and Quality Enhancement.

The School Academic Board will normally appoint two to three scrutineers to read the documentation in detail on behalf of the Board. The Board may request changes to the module descriptors and/or Programme Specification before the Short Programme can be approved. Following approval, the module descriptor(s) should be passed to Student Records for entry onto SITS. A Memorandum of Agreement will be required before the short programme can start.


  1. Initial enquiry discussed with Dean, for confirmation of support.
  2. Initial exploratory discussions between QMU staff and partner institution. Identification of Collaborative Academic Lead (CAL) to establish what partner is looking for and what QMU can provide. Advice from Partnership Development Manager (PDM) on approximate price.
  3. PDM and CAL complete risk assessment and costings. PDM conducts due diligence checks. CAL and PDM collate documentation for submission to PDG.
  4. PDG approval.
  5. Provisional price agreed by Dean and negotiated with partner.
  6. CAL and programme leader at partner start detailed planning. PDM commences discussion of the Memorandum of Agreement.
  7. CAL submits full documentation to the School Academic Board for approval.
  8. School Academic Board recommends programme to Senate for approval.
  9. Memorandum of Agreement signed by Principal and senior representative of partner institution.
  10. Programme commences.

New short programmes with existing partners

New short programmes with existing partners don’t need PDG consideration as the partner is already approved. Step 4 above should be skipped and documentation supplied to the School Academic Board as listed above.

Operation of short programmes

The same procedures apply to short programmes as to full programmes, but it may not be necessary to hold a separate exam board. Partners are not expected to hold full programme committees and student staff committees but should collect student feedback in whatever manner fits best with the way the programme is delivered.

Third Party Credit Rating

Some partners may feel that the level of quality assurance and oversight involved in running a University approved programme is more than they need for their purposes. Third Party Credit Rating offers a lighter touch (and cheaper) alternative. Credit rating is a process whereby QMU looks at the design of a programme of learning and confirms that it is suitable to be treated as a valid programme of learning. QMU also makes a recommendation as to how many credits the programme is equivalent to, and at what SCQF level. This facilitates successful students in seeking Recognition of Prior Learning should they later apply to a university course. QMU does not get involved in the running of the programme or the management of assessment and does not make a direct award of credit to students.

For further information, contact the partnerships team within Governance and Quality Enhancement.


Collaborations and Partnership Development

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Collaborations and Partnership Development

Sheila Adamson Partnership Development Manager 0131 474 0000