Validation and Review Guidance for Programme Teams
This resource has been produced as an aid to programme teams preparing for validation or review at Queen Margaret University. It includes information and guidance on the aims of validation and review, roles and responsibilities, procedures and regulations. It complements and should be read in conjunction with relevant sections of the University’s Governance and Regulations published on the QMU website Links to internal and external reference points are provided where appropriate, including links to the Quality website, which is the definitive and up-to-date source of information on University regulations and procedures.
We hope you will find this guidance useful. We would welcome any comments or suggestions for improvement. If you would like to provide feedback, please refer to the ‘Further information and contacts’ section
Staff of the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement (GQE) provide support for programme teams preparing for validation and review events. All staff participating in validation and review should contact staff from GQE at an early stage of their preparation.
The University is responsible to students, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the Scottish Funding Council, employers and the wider community for the quality, standard and relevance of programmes delivered in its name. To fulfil these responsibilities all programmes leading to an award of the University are subject to validation, periodic review and annual monitoring
Aim of validation
The overall aim of the validation process is to establish that the standards and quality of the programme under consideration are consistent with nationally accepted benchmarks and that the programme aligns with the University’s purpose: helping to create a better society through education, research and innovation, and by providing a supportive and creative learning environment in which students and staff thrive.
This is achieved through peer group scrutiny and discussion which is intended to:
- Challenge and stimulate the programme team by questioning aspects of the proposed programme;
- Ensure that the curriculum is properly aligned with external points of reference including the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, the Quality Assurance Agency’s UK Quality Code and QAA Subject Benchmarks;
- Consider alignment with key internal reference points, including the University’s Student Experience Strategy (2021-26) and Graduate Attributes.
- Identify examples of best practice for commendation and dissemination (this is achieved through circulation of the validation or review report, discussion and follow-up action taken by academic committees);
- Encourage staff in the development of new areas of the curriculum, new teaching methods and in areas of scholarly activity that will help improve the programme;
- Inform and advise staff of good practice elsewhere and of new developments in the curriculum and teaching methods
Based on the outcome of the above a decision is made on whether the programme can be recommended for approval.
Aim of review
A programme is reviewed after it has been in operation for a period of up to five years (specified at the time of the previous validation or review event). During this time one or more cohorts is likely to have passed through the programme. This means that staff, students and employers will have had experience of its operation. The aim of a programme review is to re-evaluate, through peer group scrutiny and discussion, the health and viability of the programme, the validity of aims and learning outcomes and to ascertain:
- How the programme has been operated and managed during the most recent period of validation;
- How standards have been attained and how this has been recognised;
- The ways in which the programme has met the needs of the community;
- The extent to which all the previously expressed aspirations and ambitions have been fulfilled;
- The extent to which the institution has been able to provide an environment in which the programme can flourish.
Based on the outcome of the above a decision is made on whether the programme can continue to be approved.
Roles and Responsibilities
The programme team
The role of the programme team is to plan the programme and present it at the validation or review event to a group of panellists, whose responsibilities are described on page 7 below.
A team approach to validation and review is crucial for a number of reasons:
- To provide an efficient, effective and creative means of completing all tasks;
- To ensure the views of all stakeholders are considered and there is shared ownership of the programme;
- To enhance quality since everyone serves as critical reviewer.
Typically, the team should be composed of:
Normally programmes have only one programme leader. Exceptionally, as with inter- disciplinary programmes, there may be more than one. However, where there is more than one programme leader it is strongly advised that individual roles and responsibilities for developing and managing the programme be agreed and respected from the outset.
All (potential) module co-ordinators
- New programme teams should include individuals who are most likely to be named as module co-ordinators. The team may need to recruit individuals as curriculum development dictates.
- Review teams should include module co-ordinators with experience of delivering the curriculum, who can contribute detailed critical analysis of the programme and suggestions for revision.
Where a number of programmes are being put forward for validation together (for instance in the case of School wide validations) it may be appropriate to divide some aspects of planning between sub-groups.
Additional input should be sought for the process of planning from:
Students should ideally be included on the programme planning team since they offer a different perspective of the programme from that of staff. Where it is not practical to include students, for example in the development of entirely new programmes, one option might be to recruit students from related programmes at QMU. Where possible, review teams should include both current and former students.
If possible, it may be useful to include one or more recent graduates. Graduates are particularly well placed to comment on the way in which the programme has prepared them for employment and can provide useful insights that current students may not be able to offer.
Employers of graduates or employers within the field
These representatives will bring knowledge of current and future needs of the industry, employability skills of graduates, professional standards and current developments within the profession/industry. Their insight and perspective is crucial to ensure the programme will not only have currency, but will be future-proofed for the term of validation.
Placement supervisors and/or practitioners
Practitioners may contribute professional knowledge and expertise, but will also bring to the discussion their experience of current practice. Placement supervisors will help consider the needs of the profession and issues associated with placements, such as numbers of places, timetabling, student support and staff development.
Members of QMU advisory boards within the subject
Some subject areas have professional advisory boards whose role is to contribute to the curriculum portfolio. A member of the board might join the programme team or contribute in other ways, such as critiquing a draft document.
Members of professional bodies
Representatives from professional bodies may play an advisory role in curriculum development. It is the responsibility of the programme team to check with the professional body whether this is an expectation in planning for validation or review.
Teams are encouraged to involve service users (clients or customers who might access a service provided by graduates from the programme). Service users can comment on the likely benefits of the programme for the wider community. Based on their experiences of the subject (profession) that is under consideration they play an important role in highlighting their expectations of graduates from the programme.
For inter-disciplinary programmes there should be representatives from the contributing School, which might include module co-ordinators or proposed teaching staff.
Roles and Responsibilities
Deans of School and Heads of Division
The programme team is responsible for curriculum development, the preparation of documentation, liaison with GQE and submission of a response to conditions and recommendations.
Deans of School are responsible for the strategic direction of the School. All new programmes going forward for validation must be included in School Operational Plans.
The Head of Division is responsible for ensuring that a programme planning team is established and that appropriate staff are assigned to take forward the work of preparation for review or validation. Heads of Division may be involved in the detailed planning process, development and/or delivery of the programme under consideration. However, this is not a requirement.
Heads of Division are also asked to approve validation and review panels. This is to ensure that there is no conflict of interest.
It is an expectation that the secretaries to the School Academic Boards will maintain a record of programmes due for review in their respective Schools. Staff from the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement will provide support for this.
Roles and Responsibilities
The validation panel
The role of the validation panel is to evaluate the rationale and coherence of the programme and to make a recommendation on its approval through the Student Experience Committee to the University Senate.
The panel will consider separately and collectively the following areas of the programme:
- Overall philosophy and rationale;
- Aims and learning outcomes;
- Marketing and recruitment, including admissions criteria;
- Structure and content;
- Learning and teaching activities;
- Assessment methods and regulations;
- Quality assurance and enhancement;
- Programme management;
- Student support arrangements;
- Staff and resources including quality and experience of academic staff.
Key areas that the panel may wish to explore with the team in relation to the above include,
but are not limited to:
- Stakeholder engagement in developing the new programme;
- Alignment with QMU strategies, such as the Student Experience Strategy, Employability Strategy and Graduate Attributes;
- Articulation with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework;
- Adherence to Benchmark Statements and other external reference points;
- Employer and student demand;
- Adherence to QMU or professional body policies and regulations;
- The accessibility of the award for all students including those from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds and disabled students;
- Equality, diversity and inclusion considerations, including decolonising the curriculum;
- Approaches to embedding sustainability within the curriculum.
The panel will also look in detail at module descriptors, with a focus on learning outcomes and assessments. They will be keen to assure themselves that there is a good balance of assessments across the programme and that students have the opportunity to develop specific skills such as reflection and critical thinking in a structured way through the student journey.
Resource requirements for new programmes are identified and agreed by the Academic Planning Board as described on page 11. It is essential that estimated resource requirements are approved well in advance of the validation by the Dean of School and relevant heads of service departments. The Academic Planning Board will also have considered evidence of demand and the business case for the programme.
The panel is expected to adopt a peer group approach to provide a constructive and collegiate setting, while at the same time conducting a sufficiently rigorous evaluation of the merits of the programme.
The review panel
The role of the review panel is similar to that of the validation panel (see above). Additionally the review panel will carry out a critical appraisal of the standing, progress and future of the programme by evaluating:
- The academic health and standard of the programme;
- Progress and changes in the programme since its validation or last review;
- The continuing need for the programme, including the scale of student intake, and its effectiveness and efficiency in staff and resource terms;
- The academic validity of proposed changes in the programme, and an assessment of the associated resource requirements.
Roles and responsibilities
The Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement (GQE)
Programme teams are encouraged to contact staff in the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement at an early stage in their preparation for validation or review. Normally an initial meeting between the event secretary, who will be based in the GQE, and programme leader should take place no later than six months prior to the event. The relevant School Manager will also participate in this meeting
Staff in the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement are responsible for aspects of the validation and review process as stated below:
Validation and review schedule
Development and approval of the validation and review schedule each year in consultation with Deans of School, Heads of Division and programme leaders.
Approximate dates for validation and review events will be agreed at least eight months in advance to allow for curriculum development and (where applicable) review of the operation of the programme during the most recent period of validation. Final dates should be confirmed at least three months before the event.
Advice and information
Liaison with programme leaders, panellists and professional bodies as required to offer support and guidance for aspects of the process including:
- Roles and responsibilities
- The format of the validation or review event
- Documentary requirements Please note that staff from GQE generally cannot advise on curriculum design and development, or completion of module descriptors.
- Internal and external reference points including QMU regulations; the UK Quality Code;and SCQF.
The nomination of internal panel members
All arrangements for the validation or review event, including room bookings, hospitality, accommodation and transport for external panel members, or arrangements for a remote event if applicable.
The provision of professional secretariat support to the panel.
This includes: preparation and circulation of the agenda, the consolidated checklist and other supporting documentation prior to the event; participation in the event to advise on due process and QMU policies and procedures; preparation and circulation of the validation or review report following the event.
Response to conditions
Circulation and tracking of programme teams’ response to conditions, in line with the timescale advised in the validation or review report.
The development of written agreements (Memoranda of Agreement) between QMU and collaborative partner organisations.
A formal agreement is required and must be signed before the commencement of each collaborative programme.
Further information is available on the Quality website in the Collaborations Manual.
Roles and responsibilities – other support departments
School Managers have a broad understanding and overview of all programmes in the School and are a good source of advice during the planning process. They may be able to put you in touch with staff who have developed a similar programme or who run a module that you might want to access or copy.
Your School Manager can provide guidance on the following matters:
- Programme specific regulations
- Non-standard programme structures and the implications for programme management and exam boards
- School specific guidance regarding assessment load, learning experiences and student contact hours
- Recognition of prior learning and transition arrangements
- Committees and student representation
- External examining
- Fitness to Practise / Fitness to Study procedures
- Compliance with professional and regulatory body requirements
The School Manager will be happy to read draft documents and provide feedback, as long as they are given sufficient time. They may also be able to allocate staff from the School Office to help with formatting. You are strongly advised to contact your School Manager in good time in order to agree timescales.
It is important for you to communicate with the Liaison Librarian for your subject to ensure the library purchases texts on reading lists and to set up online resource lists. Please see the QMU LRC Policies and Regulations page for up to date versions of the Collections Management Policy for timelines on communicating resource list content and the Resource List policy for requirements around use of the online resource list tool.
Liaison Librarians are able to provide in-course sessions on study skills, including literature searching and referencing, upon request. Liaison Librarians can also advise on other learning resource issues affecting programme delivery and student experience.
The Centre for Learning Enhancement and Academic Development (LEAD)
The Learning Enhancement and Academic Development (LEAD) Centre offers academic development support for colleagues that focusses around priority areas for the enhancement of Learning, Teaching and Assessment.
Colleagues from both QMU and our partner institutions are welcome to book onto the LEAD Centre series of continuing professional development (CPD) workshops (please note, you will need to use your @qmu.ac.uk to make a booking).
Staff from LEAD are involved in taking forward many of the actions from the Student Experience Strategy and they are a useful source of advice on institutional initiatives to enhance learning and teaching.
LEAD also works with colleagues in academic divisions to provide the Postgraduate Certificate in Professional and Higher Education. A refreshed Postgraduate Certificate is under development and will be launched in September 2023.
Roles and responsibilities
Professional and regulatory bodies
The role of individual professional and regulatory bodies in the validation and review process varies and should be determined at an early stage in the planning process. It is the responsibility of the programme leader to notify staff in GQE of the involvement of professional organisations and to provide contact details for representatives with responsibility for liaison with education providers.
Staff in GQE are responsible for formal liaison with professional and regulatory bodies regarding arrangements and procedures and for communicating these to the programme team. Programme teams are expected to familiarise themselves at an early stage in the process with the procedural and documentary requirements of professional bodies.
Validation of new programmes
Any proposal to develop a new programme must go through the stages set out below.
Planning of new programmes should begin up to two years in advance of validation (see below). This lead time is required for new undergraduate degrees to ensure prospectus information can be updated and the programme listed on UCAS.
All new programmes require planning time to allow for approval, consultation, and preparation, including a considerable amount of document preparation.
The validation event normally takes place at least six months prior to the commencement of the programme. This allows time to address any conditions that have to be met before the programme is delivered, but more importantly, it allows time for marketing and recruitment.
The documentation for the event needs to be submitted to the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement no later than four weeks before the event.
See Programme Development, Modification, Monitoring and Review under the Quality Assurance section of the GQE website for more details. The Partnership Development team in GQE must be consulted about proposals for new collaborative programmes.
The steps to planning are given below, some of which would occur in parallel:
- Initial proposal and preliminary market research/fact finding.
- Discussion with the Dean of School and inclusion of the proposed new programme in the School Operational Plan for the academic session in which the programme will operate.
- Once initial support has been secured, the proposal can proceed to stage one of the three stage programme approval process. To allow for marketing and inclusion in the prospectus, new undergraduate programmes should have completed stage three approval through the School Academic Board 22 months before the start of the academic year in which the programme is due to commence, and postgraduate programmes 18 months before the start of the academic year in which the programme is due to commence.
- Stage 1 Programme Approval form submitted to the School Executive Board (SEB). SEB is asked to approve the new development in principle, allowing a more detailed examination of the proposal to follow. At this stage SEB is merely looking to confirm that there is an identified need for the programme, that the University has the capacity to support it and that it does not conflict with the University strategy or the School Operational Plan.
- Identification of programme leader (and Collaborative Academic Lead, for collaborative programmes). More detailed work on proposed shape of programme and methods of delivery, which allows a full costing to be completed. Early consultation with support services such as the School Office, Information Services, Library and technicians regarding likely resource needs. Estates and Facilities should be contacted regarding any specialist teaching space or equipment that might be required.
- For QMU delivered programmes the Dean or Head of Division will liaise with staff in Finance to undertake the costing, but this may be delegated to the Programme Leader. Advice is available from the Head of Finance. For collaborative programmes, the Partnership Development Manager will take forward the costing, in consultation with the Head of Division and/or Collaborative Academic Lead.
- Research conducted on the market for the programme in order to provide evidence of demand. The Programme Leader should assess the likely demand for the proposed programmes by means such as:
a. seeking opinion from QMU sources including:
- colleagues across the University
- current students
- Development Office
- Marketing and Communications Office
- Recruitment and Admissions Office
b.seeking opinion from external sources including:
- prospective students attending open days, campus visits, recruitment fairs etc
- occupational and professional bodies
- accrediting bodies
- statutory and regulatory bodies
- prospective employers
c.investigating and considering:
- existing and planned provision (including tuition fees charged) of similar programmes in HEIs in Scotland, the rest of the UK and international competitor institutions
- admissions queries from potential students
- national/local labour market information
- growth areas in the economy
- identified shortfalls in certain areas of expertise
Note that it is essential for all programmes that staff in Marketing and Communications and Admissions are informed of the proposed development. This will allow them to make any changes to the prospectus and web listing.
- For collaborative programmes, a site visit and risk assessment will be required – please see the Collaborations Manual for details.
- Stage 2 Programme Approval form submitted to the Academic Planning Board (APB) along with costing, evidence of demand and any other relevant information. This is the crucial stage, at which senior managers will decide whether the proposed programme is viable from a strategic, academic and business point of view. Stage 2 Approval means that the University agrees to commit the resources required to deliver the programme subject to minimum student numbers.
- Following consideration of Stage 2 of the Programme Approval Form by the Academic Planning Board, the Secretary will notify the following people of the outcome: Dean of School; Head of Division; Programme Leader/Collaborative Academic Lead; School Manager; Head of Admissions and Recruitment (except for overseas collaborative programmes). If it is confirmed that the proposal can proceed to Stage 3, the Head(s) of Division must establish a Programme Team to undertake more detailed curriculum planning and preparation, if they have not already done so.
- Following confirmation from the Academic Planning Board that the proposal can proceed to Stage 3, the Programme Leader/Collaborative Academic Lead must complete and submit stage three paperwork to the School Academic Board in consultation with other members of the proposed Programme Team.
- Identification of programme planning team and invitation to join (see page 3 for details of planning team membership).
- Schedule for programme development, set out as a project plan with timescales and deadlines. Tasks allocated to different members of the team. Regular, minuted meetings. Consultation with all stakeholders, e.g. employers, professional bodies and external examiners.
- Provisional date for validation event agreed with GQE.
- Stage 4 Programme Approval form submitted to School Academic Board for discussion. The School Academic Board will be responsible for debating and agreeing the academic rationale. This will include consideration of the following:
Programme title and subsidiary exit points
Educational philosophy and aims;
Appropriateness of the proposed SCQF level;
Structure and delivery pattern;
Core and elective modules – core modules must be clearly identified;
Balance of new and existing modules;
Opportunities for linkages and efficiencies through collaboration with existing School provision.
The programme may not be advertised externally until such time as the School Academic Board has confirmed that it may proceed to validation. At this point, the programme may be advertised as ‘subject to validation’, until such time as the validation process has concluded. Note that care needs to be taken about the level of detail included at this stage as all published information on University programmes must comply with the guidance issued by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
- The School Academic Board will provide feedback to the team that will help to shape the final validation document submitted to the panel. While the SAB does not have authority to veto the development of a new programme, it may raise concerns if it is believed that a programme’s design is flawed or the team is not ready to proceed to validation. In such cases, the concerns will be passed to the Dean of the host School and a decision taken whether to postpone the validation.
- GQE confirms that all stages of Programme Approval have been completed and that validation may proceed. Final date confirmed (if this has not been done already).
- Identification of external panel member(s). The programme team is responsible for contacting the proposed external panellist(s) initially to determine availability and willingness and then notifying GQE (see page 29 for further details). GQE will identify internal panellists.
- Document preparation.
- Final documents submitted to GQE four weeks prior to the date of validation. Documents should be submitted electronically.
- Identify and invite students, senior managers, clinical educators, and others as required. Ensure all participants are aware of the time and venue for their part of the agenda.
- Circulate documents to programme team and arrange team meeting to prepare for event. Normally, feedback from the panel will be supplied shortly in advance of the event to given an indication of the likely areas for discussion.
Suggested timescales for the above steps are set out in Diagram 1
Diagram 1 - process for validating a new programme (with recommended timescales)
The timescales below are advisory. Actual timescales may vary. More flexibility is allowed for collaborative programmes, as these are not included in the QMU prospectus.
Pre-validation: Type of programme
PG / Collaborative
- 23 months
- 27 months
Programme Leader (PL)/Collaborative Academic Lead (CAL) conducts exploratory discussions and/or market research
- 22 months
- 26 months
Approval in principle by Dean of School. Proposal reported to GQE.
- 22 months
- 26 months
PL/CAL completes Stage 1 Programme Approval Form. Stage 1 Programme Approval Form submitted to School Executive Board for outline approval which enables detailed planning to commence.
- 21 months
- 25 months
Outline programme development. Costing completed. Detailed market research conducted. For collaborative programmes, site visit and risk assessment completed.
- 20 months
- 24 months
GQE sets provisional date for validation. More detailed programme planning commences.
- 18 months
- 22 months
PL/CAL completes Stage 3 Programme Approval Form. Stage 3 Programme Approval Form submitted to School Academic Board.
Following Stage 3 approval, the programme may proceed to validation. The programme may be advertised as ‘subject to validation’.
- 10 months
Development of validation documentation
- 9 months
- 7 months
Documents submitted to GQE
- 6 months
- 4 months
Response to conditions submitted
- 3 months
Recommendations from Panel reported to
The example below shows how this works in practice for an undergraduate programme due to start in September 2025.
Stage 1 paperwork approved by SEB
Stage 2 paperwork approved by APB
Stage 3 paperwork approved by SAB
GQE sets validation date
Documents to GQE (4 weeks before the event)
Recommendations to SEC and Senate (may be addressed by Convener’s Action if the validation exceptionally takesplace after the final meeting of these committees takes place)
Validation of new collaborative programmes
Collaborative validation procedures follow those outlined on pages 11 to 14 above with the following exceptions:
Site visit report and risk assessment
If the proposed programme is with a new partner, a senior member of staff must visit to view the facilities. The Academic Planning Board will decide who should visit the partner and at what stage this should happen, taking into account the individual circumstances of the partnership negotiations. The site visit report will be filed centrally by GQE.
The Collaborative Academic Lead must then meet with a member of staff from GQE to complete a risk assessment (selection of new partners) form. This will take into account evidence from the site visit report and any other evidence available, such as documents supplied by the partner or statements of support from other universities already working with the partner. The Partnership Development Manager will be able to advise on the type of evidence required to complete the risk assessment.
Note that for new programmes with existing partners a risk assessment is still required but normally a site visit will not be necessary prior to validation.
The validation event normally takes place a minimum of five months prior to the commencement of the programme. Further information about different types of collaborative agreement is available from the GQE and on the Partnerships website.
The event is normally held at the partner institution. This allows for evaluation of the partner organisation’s resources (including Library, IT and educational technology resources), facilities, staff, traditions, ethos, and academic and non-academic capability.
For new programmes with existing partners it may not be necessary to hold the validation at the partner institution unless particular specialist facilities are required to support delivery.
The documentation for collaborative validation and review events is as described on page 15 above. The following additional information is required:
- Information about student support services provided by the partner. Where services or procedures differ from what is normally offered at QMU, a statement should be provided explaining how support is equivalent to QMU norms.
- A statement on the relationship between QMU and the partner institution and proposed arrangements for quality assurance, including arrangements for moderating student work, and communication between the partners.
- Information about staff recruitment policies and how staff will be supported.
- A statement on the language of instruction and assessment: if this is not English, the documentation must include details of mechanisms to assure the standard and quality of student work.
Further information about the operation of collaborative programmes is available in the Collaborations Manual, which is published on the Partnerships website.
Review of existing programmes (including collaborative programmes)
All currently validated programmes require to be reviewed and re-validated before the expiry of the validation period (normally five years). It is the responsibility of the programme team and GQE to know when a programme is due for review. School Managers will also have a record of validation periods for all programmes in the School. Programme teams may bring forward reviews for good reason, e.g. changes to external reference points, changes to professional body requirements, work-load planning.
The planning for programme review should begin 12 months prior to the review event
The review event normally takes place no later than four months prior to the next intake. This is the minimum time required to address any conditions attached to approval.
The documentation for the event must be submitted to the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement no later than four weeks before the event.
Postponement of reviews is not normally allowed unless there is a robust, justifiable reason, e.g. delay in publication of professional body requirements. Postponement must be recommended by the School Academic Board to the Learning and Teaching Panel of the Student Experience Committee. Reviews may normally only be postponed by one year. This ensures compliance with the requirement for a maximum six-year review cycle, as set out in the Scottish Funding Council Guidance on Quality. Any extension beyond six years would be wholly exceptional and would require prior SFC agreement.
The purpose of the review is to reflect critically on evidence of the quality of the programme over the period of validation, to identify examples of good practice for dissemination and to examine aspects of the programme which may require modification in order to:
- Make enhancements based on stakeholder feedback;
- Maintain currency and relevance;
- Respond to external drivers, e.g. markets, professional standards/regulations/needs, government policies, QAA expectations, student profile;
- Align more closely with QMU policies or strategies.
The review process involves both review of the current programme and development of the revised programme for re-validation. Note that no Programme Approval paperwork is required unless:
i) There is an add-on such as extension of a PgCert to additional awards of PgDip or Masters or from a BSc to BSc (Hons)
ii) There is a significant change, e.g. a merger of two programmes into one new programme or a change of title
Staff from GQE should be contacted for advice in the event that any such changes are planned.
Preparation and planning
Required documentation for validation (to be provided in advance)
The documentation listed below is needed for every validation and must be submitted to the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement no later than four weeks before the event.
- Validation Document, including all module descriptors;
- Programme Specification;
- Student Handbook;
- Placement Handbook (if appropriate);
- Staff CVs (these are required for members of the teaching team only, and not for other members of the planning committee e.g. employers, student representatives, service users).
Other documentation for validation
Other documents required depend on the nature and level of the Programme to be validated and in some cases on professional and regulatory body involvement. The documentation listed below, if needed, can be provided in advance of the event. If final versions are not available, handbooks may be provided in draft format. Staff in the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement can advise on requirements and deadline for submission.
- Supervisors’/Mentors’ Handbook
- Other documents required by professional bodies, for example:
Mapping against Standards of Education and Training (SETS) (HCPC requirement) Mapping against Standards of Proficiency (SOPS) (HCPC requirement)
It may be useful to provide a copy of the dissertation handbook (if available) at the event.
The principal requirements of the validation document are summarised below.
Programme name, rationale, demand and design
- Programme title and SCQF level of award;
- Subsidiary exit points;
- Date programme is due to start;
- Nature and purpose of the programme;
- Intended student numbers (minimum and maximum);
- The host Division for the programme;
- Any relationship or overlap with existing programmes delivered by QMU;
- The relationship of the programme with comparable awards delivered by other higher education institutions in the UK;
- A statement on how the programme compares with similar provision in other countries (if applicable);
- Any professional or statutory body recognition;
- The use of external reference points including QAA Subject Benchmark Statements and professional body standards
- The use of internal reference points including the University’s Student Experience Strategy and Graduate Attributes, policies relating to sustainability, widening access and inclusive learning.
- A list of members of the programme planning team.
Consultation and Research
Evidence (in a summarised form) of the consultation engaged in the development of a new programme or in making major changes to an existing programme should be provided. This should include details of who was consulted, by what means, the information those consulted received on which to base an opinion (normally the draft programme proposal or a summary) and a summary of their opinions. It is important to remember to discuss both student and employer demand.
Consultation should take place with the following groups:
- Professional and statutory bodies as appropriate;
- Current External Examiners on related programmes or other assessors;
- Students currently on the programme (reviews only) or related programmes;
- Recent graduates from the programme (reviews only) or related programmes;
- Potential employers;
- Service users, where possible;
- Others, as appropriate.
The document should also include information on the programme’s target market. Discuss any plans to increase recruitment from previously under-represented groups, e.g. disabled students, direct entrants from FE, or students from previously under-represented genders or cultural backgrounds.
The validation document sets out the essential characteristics of the programme in a narrative format.
- Mode of study and programme length (including maximum registration period);
- Educational intentions (programme aims);
- Learning outcomes in terms of the attainment of knowledge, understanding, skills, experience and, where appropriate, professional development;
- Learning and teaching strategies, explaining the rationale for the choice of learning and teaching methods to be used;
- The curriculum and its component parts (including relationship to educational intentions and learning objectives);
- The distinction between core and optional elements and a statement of any prerequisites;
- The patterns of attendance on the programme including the structure of periods of placement or professional training and duration of placement periods, or the nature of part-time or mixed-mode study (this should include a statement on the use of Library and IT resources). It is helpful to include a diagram to illustrate the structure and possible routes through the programme for full-and part-time students;
- Sequence of progression between programmes/levels.
Methods of Assessment
- Methods of assessment with relevant weightings, and appropriateness to the learning outcomes and the level of the programme;
- Arrangements for formative assessment;
- Board of Examiners’ arrangements including the involvement of External Examiners in the assessment process.
In this section you should discuss:
- Support for study skills;
- Arrangements for personal development planning (if applicable);
- Support for students from the full range of diverse backgrounds;
- Personal Academic Tutors;
- Opportunities for student involvement in quality processes e.g. through the Student-Staff Consultative Committee or other regular meetings with tutors;
- Strategies for development of an inclusive learning community;
- Careers advice.
Students on programmes delivered at QMU will have access to on-site Student Services. Additional information should be provided regarding student support mechanisms for programmes delivered by blended or distance learning. Programmes delivered by collaborative partners should clarify how they will provide an equivalent level of support.
Arrangements for admission, progress and transfer
Admissions colleagues should be consulted before drawing up the standard entrance requirements.
- Entrance requirements;
- Recognition of prior learning/experiential learning, where appropriate;
- Arrangements for admission with advanced standing;
- Scope for students to transfer into the programme;
- Scope for students to transfer to other programmes;
- Progress requirements and criteria for success;
- Transitional arrangements for students affected by changes to the programme (reviews only);
- A statement on accessibility of the programme for students from all backgrounds,
including disabled and international students. If there are professional or regulatory body restrictions/requirements for admission make this clear.
State any special admissions procedures that are used, such as auditions or interviews. Clarify safeguards in place to ensure equitable treatment of all applicants regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, age, religion, nationality, culture and sexual orientation.
If it is expected that a number of students will enter the programme with advanced standing, on the basis of specific qualifications, these routes should be spelled out in the document and approved by the validation panel. (For example, articulation arrangements, or group agreements for RPL for applicants with certain professional qualifications.)
- Teaching and support staff;
- Teaching and learning accommodation and equipment;
- Learning resources;
- Central resources and services, including Library, IT, and educational technology resources (these should be identified and agreed in advance of the event as part of Stage 2 Programme Approval as described on page 11);
- Others (please specify).
Normally, it will not be necessary for the panel to discuss resource issues in depth, as resource requirements will have been discussed and agreed through the Programme Approval process. However, if the panel does have questions it may be appropriate to raise these at the event. GQE staff can provide guidance, as required.
Management of the Programme
Management arrangements including the constitution and terms of reference of the Programme Committee, Student-Staff Consultative Committee, the role of the programme leader, module co-ordinators and Personal Academic Tutor. Normally these will be consistent with QMU regulations. In this case it is appropriate to cross refer to relevant sections of the Quality website.
Quality Assurance Procedures
Quality assurance arrangements for the management, operation and monitoring of the programme, including student feedback arrangements, evaluation mechanisms, provision for student representation and student support. The documentation should identify any areas where the programme deviates from the standard University quality assurance procedures, citing the reasons, such as professional and statutory body requirements. This section should also be used to highlight any innovative approaches to quality assurance either planned or in operation.
Draft regulations should be submitted with the documentation where necessary. In most areas the programme team will use the University regulations. It will be sufficient to state that the programme conforms to QMU regulations, where this is the case.
Validation and review panels will evaluate the validity of any specific regulations for the programme(s) in question. It is recommended that programme teams wishing to introduce programme specific regulations consult the School Manager, before submitting the validation document to the Division of Governance and Quality Enhancement.
Electronic copies of the module descriptor forms and instructions for completion are available on the Quality website. It is important to ensure that they are completed in full and in a standardised format. Particular attention should be paid to ensure the following: