Academic Quality Handbook
- Full Handbook Contents
- 1 - Teaching and Learning at the University of Aberdeen: An Overview
- 2 - Quality Assurance in Higher Education: An Overview
- 3 - The Assurance and Enhancement of Academic Quality and Standards in Teaching and Learning
- 4 - Student Recruitment and Admissions
- 5 - Student Guidance and Learner Support
- 6 - Teaching and Learning Policies and Academic Administration
- 7 - Assessment and Examination Policies and Practices : Taught Courses and Programmes
- 8 - Research Students
- 9 - External Examining: Taught Courses and Programmes
- 10 - Collaborative Arrangements: Quality Assurance Procedures
- 11 - Academic Support Services and Resources
Section 3 - The Assurance and Enhancement of Academic Quality and Standards in Teaching and Learning
(Incorporating Internal Teaching Review Procedures)
This Section of the Academic Quality Handbook should be of interest to all academic staff, and of particular interest to Heads of School, Course and Programme Co-ordinators, and members of relevant School and University Committees
Quality and Standards in UK Higher Education
3.1.1 It has long been acknowledged, by the Government, by higher education agencies, and by institutions themselves, that the responsibility for the assurance of the quality of higher education provision and the standards of awards must rest with the institutions. Section 2 of the Academic Quality Handbook provides an overview of the framework for quality assurance and enhancement in higher education since 1991.
The Senatus Academicus
3.1.2 The Senatus Academicus (the Senate) is charged with the regulation and superintendence of the teaching and discipline of the University, and with the promotion of research. The Senate is responsible to the University Court for ensuring that satisfactory policies and procedures are in place for safeguarding the academic standards of the University’s awards, and for the assurance, maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the University’s educational provision. Periodic external peer review monitors the University’s success in this regard (Section 2 refers).
3.1.3 In view of the diverse range of courses and programmes of study offered, the University has accepted that, generally, the “ownership” of these should reside firmly with Schools, which are best placed to provide the detailed academic scrutiny required in a robust quality assurance system.
3.1.4 The quality of the University’s teaching and learning activities is safeguarded through the professional standards of the teaching and support staff. These are maintained and enhanced through the University’s policies in relation to staff recruitment and development (sub-section 3.7 refers).
3.1.5 The University’s mechanisms for the assurance and enhancement of quality and the safeguarding of academic standards centre around the audit of School management of its teaching and learning provision and of a School’s implementation of University policies and procedures. These mechanisms are supervised by a central quality assurance and enhancement committee structure which the Senate introduced in September 1996. Details of this structure are given in sub-section 3.2.
3.1.6 In summary, the Senate has devolved responsibility to the University Committee on Teaching and Learning to undertake the detailed consideration and development of teaching and learning policy and to make appropriate recommendations to the Senate. Academic Standards Committees (ASC), which are University committees, oversee the validation and re-validation of course and programme proposals and are responsible, inter alia, for the regulation of students’ studies and the provision of arrangements for student academic support.
3.1.7 Several senior academic staff and Officers have particular responsibility for quality assurance in respect of ensuring that the University’s quality control procedures are undertaken effectively and, where appropriate, promote the enhancement of quality. Many of these also serve on various University committees which have a quality assurance function.
3.1.8 The Vice-Principal (Learning and Teaching) has overall institutional responsibility for quality assurance and enhancement and for wider access and participation. The remit of this post includes convening the University Committee on Teaching and Learning (UCTL).
3.1.9 The establishment of Colleges in August 2003 gave the opportunity for the creation of a new teaching and learning infrastructure to improve our management of quality assurance and enhancement at College and School levels. Heads of College have overall responsibility for the quality assurance and enhancement of teaching and learning provision in their College. In practice, their responsibility is devolved to the College Directors of Teaching and Learning who convene the College Teaching and Learning Committees. They are members of the UCTL. Administrative support is provided by the Assistant College Registrars (Teaching and Learning).
3.1.10 Heads of School have a quality assurance and enhancement function at the School level in ensuring that a School implements the University’s, and its own, quality control procedures satisfactorily. In many cases, responsibility for teaching and learning is delegated by the Head of School to a School Director of Teaching and Learning (or equivalent).
3.1.11 The ASC Conveners fulfil an important quality assurance function on a day-to-day basis on behalf of the various quality assurance committees. All members of ASCs are appointed by the Senate on the recommendation of the relevant Head of College(s), after appropriate consultation. The ASC Conveners, together with further ASC representatives, are members of the UCTL.
3.1.12 The Directors of Undergraduate Programmes for each Area of Study are appointed by the Senate on the recommendation of the relevant Head(s) of College, after appropriate consultation. They have extensive delegated authority to undertake a range of duties on behalf of the Academic Standards Committee (Undergraduate), as listed in Appendix 3.3.
3.1.13 Advisers of Studies are appointed by the University Court on the recommendation of relevant Heads of College after consultation with the relevant Head of School. All students (except MBChB students) are allocated an Adviser of Studies each year and are required to meet with their Adviser at the beginning of each academic year. Students are not allowed to register for an academic year unless their Adviser has approved the programme they wish to take and authorised by the Adviser. Subsequent changes of curriculum must be authorised by the Adviser. A detailed Job Description for Advisers of Studies is to be found in Section 5, Appendix 5.1. A number of Senior Advisers are also appointed, normally one per School to provide support to Advisers of Studies within their School. Meetings of Senior Advisers are held to provide feedback from Advisers and to help inform developments in the Advising System.
3.1.14 Admissions Selectors are appointed at undergraduate level to consider applications and make offers on behalf of the University for admission to the degrees that they are assigned. The University Committee on Teaching & Learning nominates Admissions Selectors for appointment, as deemed appropriate, to the University Court, on the recommendation of relevant Heads of College after appropriate consultation.
3.1.15 Directors of Studies (Admissions) are appointed in some areas to oversee the work of the Admissions Selectors for the degrees assigned to an Area of Study: they are appointed on the recommendation of relevant Heads of College after appropriate consultation.
3.1.16 Postgraduate Officers are appointed on the recommendation of relevant Heads of College after appropriate consultation, with at least two being appointed from each of the University’s Areas of Study. They have extensive delegated authority to undertake a range of duties on behalf of the Academic Standards Committee (Postgraduate), as listed in Appendix 3.3.
3.2.1 An Organisational Chart of the University’s Committee Structure is available at www.abdn.ac.uk/staff/committees.php . The formal remits and compositions of the major committees with responsibility for Quality Assurance and Enhancements are provided in Appendices 3.2-3.5. These are also available on the University’s web-site 1, which includes the names of the Conveners and Registry Officers, and contact details for the latter. The remits are summarised below.
3.2.2 The University Committee on Teaching and Learning [Appendix 3.2 refers] is responsible to the Senate for the assurance of the quality of the University’s educational provision, particularly in relation to the design, implementation, evaluation and review of mechanisms for quality assurance and quality control, for the enhancement of the quality of teaching and learning, and for the safeguarding of academic standards. The Committee is therefore the primary forum for the discussion and formulation of policy and procedures in relation to the assurance of academic quality and standards, and recommends policy to the Senate for approval, as appropriate. To inform debate at UCTL, meetings of Heads of School are held two weeks before each meeting.
3.2.3 The Academic Standards Committee (Undergraduate) (ASC) [Appendix 3.3 refers] is responsible for monitoring the courses and programmes of study assigned to them. This includes the consideration of proposals for new undergraduate courses and programmes in consultation with College Teaching & Learning Committees (paragraph 3.3.26 refers), and the provision of appropriate mechanisms for student guidance and learner support. The ASC is a robust quality assurance committee, with members serving a University rather than a School role. There are three Students’ Progress Committees [Appendix 3.4 refers]: a composite one for the areas of Arts & Social Sciences, Divinity, Education, Law and Science, and separate Committees in the areas of Engineering and Medicine. These Committees, which are sub-committees of the ASC, consider the cases of students who fail to satisfy the progress requirements for a particular degree as prescribed by the Regulations.
3.2.4 The Academic Standards Committee (Postgraduate) [Appendix 3.3] is responsible to the Senate for the monitoring and administration of all postgraduate courses and programmes of study (taught and research) and associated regulations; monitoring the progress of individual postgraduate students.
3.2.5 Since 1999/2000, a system of annual reports has provided an opportunity for the Senate and the University Committee on Teaching and Learning (UCTL) to exercise their overall responsibilities for quality and standards. The UCTL prepares an annual report for consideration by the Senate. The report to the Senate incorporates analysis of data relating to academic appeals, complaints, discipline and students’ progress for the previous year. In addition to the annual report, the UCTL reports to each meeting of the Senate on any significant items of teaching and learning policy.
3.2.6 In addition, the unconfirmed Minutes of the above committees are placed on the web once they have been approved by the Convener. Heads of School are informed, normally by e-mail, of specific issues that require their response or action following each meeting.
Course and Programme Proposal Forms
3.3.1 The University Committee on Teaching and Learning (UCTL) has approved a series of forms for the submission of course and programme proposals. These are listed below, and are available through the University’s Web pages 2 for downloading as Word for Windows documents:-
- SENAS 1 - Proposal to Offer a New Course
- SENAS 2 - Proposal to Offer a New Programme of Study
- SENAS 3 - Proposals for Changes to Courses or Programmes
- SENAS 4 - Proposal to Withdraw a Course or Programme of Study
3.3.3 The forms are continually reviewed by the University Committee on Teaching and Learning (UCTL), and any comments should be sent to the Clerk to the UCTL via the Registry (E-mail: email@example.com). The forms were extensively revised in the 2009 to take account of the outcomes of the University's Curriculum Reform project. The revised forms, which relate to any curriculum developments for implementation from 2010 are entirely web-based and are available at http://sp.abdn.ac.uk/cref/default.aspx.
3.3.4 Guidance Notes on completion of the paper forms and on how to write aims and learning outcomes are available at www.abdn.ac.uk/registry/senas.hti. Guidance for the completion of the web forms is integrated within the forms.
Design and Initial Approval of Courses and Programmes
[Note: Paragraphs 3.3.7-3.3.18 are adapted from, and should be read in conjunction with, the QAA’s Code of Practice for Programme Approval, Monitoring and Review which is available at:- www.qaa.ac.uk]
3.3.6 Each programme must be sponsored by a School (or two or more Schools in the case of joint and inter-disciplinary programmes 3 ). The majority of programmes (e.g. most single honours and postgraduate taught programmes) will be the responsibility of a single Programme Co-ordinator. For inter-disciplinary programmes, at least one Programme Co-ordinator must be identified from one of the sponsoring Schools. For joint Honours programmes, each School should identify a Programme Co-ordinator to be responsible for its component of all such programmes.
3.3.8 Programme and Course Co-ordinators must be either members of the full-time academic staff or an Honorary member of the academic staff of the relevant School: this does not preclude “bought-in” (including relief) teachers from having a major role in organising and delivering a course (but not a programme).
Rationale and Requirements
3.3.9 There may be several reasons why a School wishes to design a new course or programme: e.g. as a consequence of feedback from staff, students, External Examiners or other external bodies/agencies, or changes in market demands. All proposals must have regard to relevant external inputs, including national subject benchmark statements and/or the requirements of professional and statutory bodies, where applicable. All proposals for new courses and programmes must therefore be submitted on the appropriate forms (paragraph 3.3.1 refers), which have been designed to assist Schools in ensuring that all relevant information is provided for the validation committee (ASC).
3.3.10 The following (based onthe QAA’s Code of Practice for Programme Approval, Monitoring and Review) should be incorporated into the design and approval of programmes and their constituents courses, to ensure that standards are set appropriately and intended learning outcomes specified accordingly:-
3.3.11 Consideration should be given to the level of a programme and to the level of the stated learning outcomes at any named stages in the programme. A level is an indicator of the relative demand, complexity, depth of study and learner autonomy involved in a programme. Consideration should be given to the location of the programme on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (www.scqf.org.uk/AbouttheFramework/Overview-of-Framework.aspx and on the University’s Framework of Degrees (see Appendix 1.2).
3.3.12 Consideration should be given to the way in which the curriculum promotes an organised progression so that the demands on the learner in intellectual challenge, skills, knowledge, and learning autonomy increase.
3.3.13 Consideration should be given to the balance within the programme of a number of elements, typically academic and practical elements, a concern for personal development and academic outcomes and a determination of breadth and depth of the subject material to be included in the programme.
3.3.15 Consideration should be given to the overall coherence and intellectual integrity of the programme. The programme should be designed in a way that will ensure the student’s experience has a logic and integrity that are clearly linked to the purpose of the programme.
3.3.16 The expectations given to students and others about the intended outcomes of the programme should be unambiguous and deliverable. Consideration should be given to the feasibility of attainment of the outcomes.
Joint and Major/Minor Programmes
3.3.17 The University offers a large number of Joint Honours programmes comprising an equal proportion of study in two subjects, and a range of “Major” Honours programmes which can be combined with a “Minor” programme. These programmes are designed, in effect, as the study of two distinct subjects within an overall programme structure leading to a named award. While the learning outcomes for each subject will be coherent and integrated, there will not, necessarily, be the same coherence and integration between the two subjects: indeed, there is not any formal integration or coherence between the two components of many, if not all, Joint and Combined Honours programmes currently offered.
Points of Reference
3.3.18 Internal and external points of reference should be used to inform the design of the programme. External reference points might be provided by a national subject benchmark statement, information about similar or parallel programmes elsewhere or expectations of professional or statutory regulatory bodies, or employer expectations (for example as set out in occupational standards). In a student negotiated programme, an inherent part of the negotiation process will involve the student and Adviser in designing the programme, taking into consideration the intended level of the award and jointly agreeing the relevant sources of reference.
Progress Files/Transcripts/European Diploma Supplement/Personal Development and Planning
3.3.19 Universities UK (UUK), Universities Scotland, GuildHE, the Centre for Recording Achievement (CRA), the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) are working with HE providers and academics to develop PDP policies and practices and have invited institutions to move towards:
- providing opportunities for PDP both within and outside the curriculum and guidance to support the process;
- employing a variety of strategies to encourage learners to reflect upon and evaluate their own learning experience and plan their own development.
[PDP is defined as a “structured and supported process undertaken by alearner to reflect upon their own learning, performance and/or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development”] (QAA, 2009).
3.3.20 At the time of writing, the University’s PDP provision is supported by an online ePortfolio-based system accessed by students from WebCT, along with a WebCT course which contains guidance and resources. In order to manage the development of PDP two groups were created, the University PDP Strategy Group and the University PDP Implementation Group.
3.3.21 In common with the rest of the sector, the University issues graduating students with a version of the European Diploma Supplement (EDS) which includes a sector-wide ‘Description of Higher Education in Scotland’. The moves within the sector towards issuing the Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR) align with the University’s wish identified through Curriculum Reform, to record participation in the wider co-curriculum on students’ transcripts. Development of the HEAR is being taken forward in conjunction with work arising from Curriculum Reform.
3.3.22 Course and programme proposals must be approved by the Head(s) of the relevant School(s). Often, approval will be given after consideration by a School committee (larger Schools may have a specific courses and programmes committee to consider relevant proposals; smaller Schools may consider proposals at a meeting of all academic staff).
3.3.23 It is essential that the Head of a School which is responsible for a course that is a specified component of a programme sponsored by another School liaises with the Head(s) of the other School(s) (or Programme Co-ordinator in the case of inter-disciplinary programmes) in regard to any proposed changes to the course in question. This is to ensure that where, for example, a course is to be amended substantially or withdrawn, the Heads of all other relevant Schools (and, where appropriate, Programme Co-ordinators) are aware of the proposed changes and of the potential implications for students.
College Approval, Central Validation and The Planning Cycle
3.3.24 Following School approval, proposals must be submitted by e-mail to the relevant SENAS e-mail address (given on the form) or via the online system to the relevant Assistant College Registrar (Teaching & Learning), as all course and programme proposals must be considered by the relevant College Teaching & Learning Committee. These Committees will not undertake an in-depth scrutiny of the academic content of the course or programme proposals, which is a School matter; the arrangements for such School scrutiny will be audited through the Internal Teaching Review procedures (see paragraph 3.5.21 below). The College Teaching & Learning Committee has primary responsibility for the academic scrutiny (as well as consideration of resource and academic planning implications). This includes responsibility for satisfying themselves that the appropriate scrutiny has been undertaken at School level, including consideration of external input. Normally, all proposals are considered by the College Director of Teaching & Learning in advance of the Committee. Where the Convener is content, the approval is simply reported to the Committee. Where issues are identified, the Committee is invited to consider the proposal. Approval will be granted if the proposal is in accord with the College’s strategic plan and if the appropriate resources are either in place or if the College is able to allocate additional resources where necessary.
3.3.25 The annual planning cycle deadline for submission of course and programme proposals is 30 November: this date is to ensure that central scrutiny and validation of proposals can be achieved in time for incorporation in the Omnibus Resolution to the Senate in February, and inclusion in relevant publications (e.g. UCAS Handbook; Prospectuses; University Calendar; Catalogue of Courses). Proposals may be considered outwith the normal planning cycle on an ad hoc basis if there is good reason for being unable to meet the 30 November deadline.
3.3.26 The Assistant College Registrar (Teaching & Learning) will send a copy (electronically) of the proposal to the relevant Academic Standards Committee (ASC) Clerk, for consideration by the Academic Standards Committee (Postgraduate) (for courses and for postgraduate taught programmes) or the Academic Standards Committee (Undergraduate) (for undergraduate programmes). The ASCs are the primary central scrutinising committees and have delegated authority on behalf of the Senate for validation and re-validation of programmes. The ASCs are responsible for ensuring that proposals conform with the University’s policies and practices in regard to credit-rating, teaching, learning and assessment practices, and regulatory issues. Through this scrutiny, the ASCs will ensure that programmes are in accord with the requirements of the national qualifications framework and are consistent with the specification of academic standards, as may be defined, for example, by the relevant national subject benchmark statements
3.3.27 Once approved by the relevant ASC, proposals for the introduction (or withdrawal) of courses and programmes are referred to the Senate, together with any concomitant regulatory changes, for ratification. The Senate is ultimately responsible for the setting, maintenance and assurance of academic standards and may therefore review or amend any proposal referred to it by the relevant validating committee.
Course and Programme Review and Re-Validation
3.3.28 Following modularisation, the University introduced course review procedures based on a standard Student Course Evaluation Form exercise for undergraduate courses and for postgraduate courses and programmes. These procedures are described in paragraphs 3.5.2-3.5.14 below. Appendices 3.7a and 3.7b also refer.
3.3.29 While Schools have continually reviewed programmes informally, the University introduced formal procedures for programme review in 2000/01: these are described in paragraph 3.5.15-3.5.17 below. Annex B to Appendix 3.8 also refers. All programmes are to be reviewed every six years.
3.3.30 With effect from 2005, formal revalidation of programmes has formed an integral part of Internal Teaching Review (ITR). The ITR Panel will examine the programme review reports (see 3.3.29 above) and other supporting documentation and will make a recommendation to the relevant ASC for each of a School’s programmes unconditional revalidation; revalidation conditional upon a satisfactory response to specific recommendations; or, refuse revalidation.
3.3.31 As part of the Curriculum Reform project the University agreed that all undergraduate degree programmes to be taught from 2010 onwards should be revalidated by February 2010. This required details to be submitted on the revised New Programme Proposal form for consideration by the relevant College Teaching Committee and ASC(Undergraduate). A similar exercise for postgraduate taught programmes will be undertaken in the future.
3.4.1 The University’s overall policy in regard to academic standards for undergraduate and postgraduate taught degrees is to ensure that, as far as possible, the standards achieved by those completing a particular programme of study are comparable, both within and between cohorts. The mechanisms put in place by the University to ensure such consistency and comparability of standards are described below. The University’s Common Assessment Scale (CAS) and Grade Spectrum for determining honours degree classifications (see Section 7) also provide for a measure of comparability of standards between subjects/programme areas within the University. The External Examiner system, complemented, where relevant, by professional accreditation of courses, programmes and final awards, and the utilisation of national subject benchmark statements, provides a measure of comparability within the same subject/programme area across institutions.
The Definition of, and Responsibility for, Academic Standards
3.4.2 Standards are made up of three primary elements: (a) the composition of the degree programme in terms of prescribed courses and pass levels; (b) the aims and learning outcomes of programmes and courses; (c) the methods of awarding marks which are based on assessment criteria, marking schemes and the University’s Common Assessment Scale. The University has to assure itself that effective means of verifying the standards of awards in terms of these elements are in place.
3.4.3 The University believes that the definition of the academic standards of a particular subject/programme of study and the associated awards should rest primarily with those who are experts in the subject/programme area: i.e. with those academic staff who design, deliver, examine and review the programme and, in particular, its constituent courses. Several individuals or groups of individuals therefore share collective responsibility for defining academic standards:-
- the individual teachers who, as members of Course Teams, collectively design, deliver, assess and review the constituent elements (courses) of a programme of study in light of the national subject benchmark statement, where applicable;
- course and programme co-ordinators, who oversee course and programme design, prescribe the syllabus and organise its delivery, specify the resources required for successful delivery, and co-ordinate the review of courses and programmes;
- members of academic Schools, who are responsible not only for endorsing proposals to amend existing, or introduce new, courses and programmes but also for determining the level at which a particular course should be offered and for proposing the composition of the programme’s prescribed courses;
- Heads of School, who are responsible ultimately for approving courses and programme proposals at the School level, and for ensuring that adequate resources are made available;
- members of College Teaching & Learning Committees and the College Director of Teaching & Learning, who give College approval to courses and programmes being offered, and the Heads of College who sanction the allocation and use of College resource when appropriate;
- members of Academic Standards Committees, who validate (and re-validate) courses and programmes and assign appropriate credits;
- College Directors of Teaching & Learning, members of Internal Teaching Review Panels and members of the Academic Standards Committees, who collectively oversee the review of courses and programmes and of Schools’ teaching and learning activities;
- Examiners (both internal and external), who determine the final marks awarded to students in relation to individual courses and programme.
3.4.4 The quality of the staff who undertake or support these activities is paramount. The procedure for Chair appointments provides for wide searches for potential candidates and a rigorous scrutiny of candidates’ suitability, with excellence as the touchstone. A similar approach is used for all appointments. A major element in the University’s staffing strategy is the enhanced provision of staff development. Staff recruitment and development procedures are discussed more fully in sub-section 3.7 below.
3.4.5 There is also corporate responsibility for academic standards. An institution must put in place mechanisms to ensure that the appropriate levels of academic and personal support and an appropriate teaching and learning environment exist to allow students to fulfil their potential and achieve the highest level of award on completion of a programme of study. There must also be institutional-wide mechanisms for monitoring and assuring academic standards.
3.4.6 For the vast majority of its degree programmes, the University offers a modular structure in which students have varying degrees of autonomy and flexibility in choosing their curriculum. This is particularly the case in the first two years of undergraduate study, when students may follow a variety of courses offered by several Schools. Similar opportunities may exist in the third year of study for those following non-Honours programmes or for those students following joint or major/minor Honours programmes in two subject areas. Consequently, the University believes that the academic standards of the final awards associated with a particular programme of study are linked inextricably with those of its constituent elements.
The Maintenance, Verification and Monitoring of Academic Standards
- validation of individual courses and programmes by the College Teaching and Learning Committees and the Academic Standards Committees, which includes confirmation that relevant external standards and reference points, such as the national subject benchmark statements, have been utilised in designing learning outcomes and the level of an award;
- accreditation of courses, programmes and awards by professional bodies, where appropriate;
- Internal Teaching Reviews;
- programme revalidation as part of Internal Teaching Review;
- insistence on and monitoring of student attendance and course work;
- the use of a Common Assessment Scale (CAS) throughout the University, with common definitions for Honours and non-Honours courses in relation to the various CAS bands;
- the requirement for a range of written examination scripts for Honours and postgraduate taught students to be double-marked independently and all being marked anonymously (i.e. with candidates identified by number and not by name);
- the requirement for all Final Meetings of Examiners to apply a University-wide Grade Spectrum for determining degree classification in all degree programmes;
- the External Examiner’s role in the moderation of assessments, by adjudicating when internal examiners differ in their assessment of particular candidates, and in determining which side of the boundary (pass/fail or borderline between degree classifications) a candidate should be placed. Those internal examiners who serve as External Examiners elsewhere also play a key role in helping to ensure comparability of standards
3.4.8 The University holds the view that the External Examiner plays a crucial role in verifying and monitoring academic standards, both within the University and across higher education. Details of the University’s practices and policies in regard to external examining in taught courses and programmes are given in Section 9. Paragraphs 3.5.10-3.5.13 below also refer. Details of the CAS and Grade Spectrum, and of the University’s other assessment and examination policies, are given in Section 7.
The Review of Academic Standards
3.4.9 The effectiveness of the University’s policy in regard to the maintenance of academic standards is monitored internally by those with responsibility for reviewing programmes of study, reviews that are audited via Internal Teaching Reviews (paragraph 3.5.21 refers). An essential element of programme review is the analysis of relevant performance indicators (entry qualifications; progression rates; course and degree assessment outcomes; first-destination statistics). This would lead to the review of the academic standards associated with a particular award/programme of study, where appropriate, and might include changes to the programme’s prescribed courses; to the assessment methods; and to the learning outcomes of the courses and programme. These often would be discussed with the relevant External Examiner (and professional body, where appropriate), prior to submission via the University’s formal committee structure (paragraph 3.3.26 refers).
3.5.1 The University has established several mechanisms for quality control to verify whether a School’s management of teaching, learning and assessment activities is satisfactory, leads to quality enhancement, and is in accord with the University’s policies and practices. These are described below.
3.5.2 The University requires all courses to be reviewed annually. Since Schools are responsible for the design, delivery and assessment of courses, they are clearly best placed to undertake course review. The responsibility for course review therefore rests firmly with Heads of School
Collation of Student Feedback via (a) the Student Course Evaluation Form Exercise (SCEF); (b) Staff-Student Liaison Committees (SSLC) and (c) other in-School methods undertaken to capture student opinion.
Course Review by the Course Team, incorporating (a) Student feedback from (i) above, (b) feedback from External Examiners, (c) analysis of course data (registrations, withdrawals, pass rates) and (d) feedback from the course team, and class representatives.
Consideration of Annual Course Reviews by the School Teaching and Learning Committee (TLC) and Head of School
Consideration of Annual Course Reviews by the Quality Assurance Committee (QAC)
Closing of feedback loop, to students and staff, at appropriate junctures throughout the process
3.5.4 The profoma to be used by Schools to report the outcomes of Course Review can be downloaded at: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/registry/annualcoursereview_masterproforma.docx
- the Student Course Evaluation Form exercise;
- the requirement that all Schools establish a Staff-Student Liaison Committee, with substantial student representation;
- the requirement for External Examiners to report annually.
Student Course Evaluation Form
3.5.7A University-wide Student Course Evaluation Form (SCEF) was introduced in 1990, with pre-set questions approved by the University Committee on Teaching and Learning to seek undergraduate students’ views on the quality of the teaching and learning experience afforded by a particular course. The form has been reviewed periodically and was redesigned in 2011 when it became electronic. The form is flexible in that it allows Schools to design their own questions to elicit feedback specifically in relation to their courses and School. Analogous procedures were adopted by the Academic Standards Committee (Postgraduate) for implementation in 1997/98 in relation to seeking feedback from postgraduate taught courses.
- enhance the student's experience of learning and teaching, and encourage self-reflection
- monitor the quality of teaching and learning
- improve the quality of teaching and learning
- ascertain how well a course or programme of study is doing
- identify good practice
- Part A is common to all courses and contains a small number of key questions together with space for students’ written comments.
- Part B of the SCEF allows for Schools to develop their own questions to meet their individual needs for each course, subject to approval by the relevant Head of School.
3.5.11 Students should be asked to complete the form online (www.abdn.ac.uk/scef). Any additional comments can be added to the free text boxes.
3.5.12 Normally, SCEF should be made available online towards the end of a course. Course coordinators should ensure students are fully informed of the objectives of the SCEF exercise; the process of course review to give the SCEF exercise context; and how the outcome of the SCEF exercise will be communicated to them.
- The results of the SCEF exercise
- Any action taken as a result of the survey
In addition, minutes of SSLCs are posted on noticeboards, websites and MyAberdeen. School/course handbooks can also be updated to provide information on course review.
Staff-Student Liaison Committees (SSLC)
- consideration of any issues arising from the previous half-session’s Student Course Evaluation Form Exercise;
- identification of any problems with the current half-session’s courses which might require immediate attention.
3.5.15 Most SSLCs have a majority of students as members, usually Class Representatives elected by their peers (Section 5 refers). Depending on the nature of a particular course and of the programme(s) with which it is associated, there will either be one Class Representative for each course or, in the case of curricula with a substantial number of prescribed courses (e.g. medicine, dentistry, law, engineering, divinity) there may be one Class Representative for each year/level of study. Some Schools which have a substantial number of postgraduate taught programmes and students have established a separate SSLC in relation to such provision.
3.5.16 SSLCs should be scheduled to meet so that the Annual Course Review report can be considered before submission to the QAC. The QAC’s comments should be submitted to the next meeting of the SSLC so that the Committee can be satisfied that action has been taken by the School and the University, where necessary. If this is not possible, the Annual Course Review Report from the previous half-session, which also includes issues arising from External Examiner’s Reports and any comments made by the QAC on previous Course Review Summary Reports should be submitted to the next SSLC to confirm any actions arising have been taken.
3.5.17 Heads of School are responsible for closing the “feedback loop” to students concerning the outcome of the SCEF exercise and annual course review. As such, Heads of School should ensure that the Minutes of the Staff-Student Liaison Committee meetings are placed on the School’s noticeboard, website and MyAberdeen.
3.5.18Whilst the expected, and minimum, methods for Schools to gather student feedback are The SCEF exercise and SSLC, Schools are encouraged to consider different and innovative methods to give students the opportunity to provide feedback. The use of mid-term questionnaires can be used to identify any issues which could be acted upon before the course ends. Student focus groups and informal feedback sessions could be established to allow students to express any concerns or raise issues with the staff throughout the academic year.
External Examiners’ Reports
3.5.19 External Examiners for undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes are required to submit a formal report to the Principal by 31 October relating to their activities in the previous academic year. The form is annotated by an administrator in the Registry to highlight any issues raised by an External Examiner that require attention. It is then copied to the Convener of the University Committee on Teaching and Learning, and to the relevant College Director of Teaching & Learning (via the Assistant College Registrar (Teaching & Learning)), Head of School and Convener of the appropriate Academic Standards Committee (ASC). The ASC Conveners also inform Assistant College Registrars of any areas of concern that have not hitherto been highlighted for action.
3.5.20 Assistant College Registrars request Heads of Schools’ comments on any areas of concern expressed by their relevant External Examiner(s). Often a School will automatically accept an External Examiner’s suggestions, many of which will have been discussed with the External Examiner (e.g. at the Final Examiners’ Meeting) and implemented prior to receipt of the formal report.
3.5.21 College Directors of Teaching & Learning submit a report to the relevant Academic Standards Committee, outlining how a School has responded to External Examiners’ comments. Policy issues raised by an External Examiner are referred by the ASC to the UCTL.
3.5.22 The ASCs are responsible for closing the “feedback loop” to External Examiners by informing them of the School’s and, where appropriate, the University’s response to an External Examiner’s comments.
3.5.23 Details on the role of External Examiners for taught courses and programmes are provided in Section 9.
Professional and Statutory Bodies
3.5.24 Certain subject areas within the University are subject to the requirements of Professional and Statutory Bodies (PSB). In such areas, PSB reports will inform planning and review at the School level and will routinely be considered as part of the University's quality assurance and enhancement processes.
3.5.25 Arrangements for the consideration of PSB reports and the monitoring of subsequent action and feedback are similar to those used for the reports of external examiners. PSB reports will be considered as described below.
- Heads of School should send the Academic Registrar a copy of all reports from Professional and Statutory Bodies (PSB) (including Accreditation Reports) as soon as these have been received by the School.
- A member of the Registry will highlight issues arising from reports which require action.
- The Registry will circulate copies of reports to:
- the Convener of the University Committee on Teaching and Learning
- the relevant Head of College via the College Registrar
- the Convener of the relevant Academic Standards Committee(s)
- the Manager of the Centre for Learning and Teaching.
- Heads of College will seek a Head of School's response to any issues arising from a report and forward these to the relevant Academic Standards Committee.
- A member of the Centre for Learning and Teaching will note examples of good practice highlighted in a report for consideration as to whether such good practice should be promoted more widely within the University.
- Academic Standards Committee will consider School and College responses to any issues arising from PSB/Accreditation Reports and, where necessary, will enter into dialogues with the relevant Head of School and Head of College if there are any concerns with a programme of study or its constituent courses. The ASC will refer any policy issues to the UCTL.
3.5.26Formal programme review procedures were therefore introduced in August 2000, following internal consideration of the QAA’s section of its Code of Practice on Programme Approval, Monitoring and Review.
- to ensure that the aims and learning outcomes of a programme are up-to-date and reflect developments in the subject, including, where appropriate, the relevant national subject benchmark statements;
- to ascertain whether the design, delivery and assessment of a programme and its constituent courses are appropriate to allow a programme’s aims and learning outcomes to be achieved and demonstrated;
- to ensure that the academic standards achieved by students are appropriate and consistent and that the associated awards are in accord with the national qualifications framework;
- to ensure that the quality of the learning experience gives all students the opportunity to achieve the highest possible standards of the associated award;
- to confirm that the programme specification reflects accurately the requirements of the programme and identifies the general skills, knowledge and attributes that those who complete the programme successfully will be able to demonstrate.
3.5.28 The Programme Review procedures are detailed in Appendix 3.8 and Annex 3.8B. In line with QAA requirements for Subject Review, programme review and, hence, programme re-validation, are undertaken on a six-year cycle. In summary, Schools are required to complete a Programme Review Report for each of their main programme groupings and submit it with their Internal Teaching Review documentation (paragraph 3.5.21 below refers).
Other Forms of Feedback
3.5.30 Several Schools have established Employer Liaison Groups or equivalent committees, and those in which programmes are accredited by professional organisations often maintain strong links with employers. Following Curriculum Reform all programmes, or groups of programmes, will be required to establish programme advisory groups to inform programme development. These groups include employer and alumni representation to ensure programme relevance in an external context.
3.5.31 Some Schools are strong in maintaining contact with their graduates e.g. through graduate societies or by holding regular events to which graduates are invited. Feedback, both formal and informal, on the School’s Honours courses and programmes in relation to how well these have prepared the graduates for their subsequent training or employment, together with graduate involvement in programme advisory groups, may therefore be obtained in this manner.
Internal Teaching Reviews
3.5.32 The University’s Internal Teaching Review procedures are the cornerstone of the University’s quality assurance procedures. The procedures were introduced in 1994, strengthened in 1996, and further revised in 2000/01 to reflect changes in the UK-wide arrangements for the external assurance of quality and standards that had been formulated by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). The Internal Teaching Review procedures were revised again in 2002 to take account of the new Quality Enhancement Framework introduced by SHEFC, and were further revised in 2009 to take account of changes required by SFC.
- to provide a formal opportunity for a School 5 to reflect on, and critically evaluate, its teaching and learning provision and to benefit from a constructive dialogue with, and commentary by, a Panel of senior academics from outwith the School, an external subject specialist(s) and a student representative;
- to monitor a subject provider’s arrangements for course and programme design, approval, delivery, monitoring and review and to satisfy the University that quality and standards in teaching and learning are being maintained and enhanced, and that any areas of concern in this regard are addressed;
- to encourage subject providers to discuss with the Internal Teaching Review Panel any innovations and successes in teaching and learning that they have implemented, any plans for future changes, and to highlight any impediments to the development of higher quality teaching and learning provision;
- to discuss the School’s arrangements for training and supervision of its research students.
- submission of documentation by a School;
- review of the documentation by an independent Panel made up of staff from the University, a student representative appointed by the Students’ Association, and one or more subject specialists from other institutions;
- Panel Visit to the School to meet staff and students;
- production of a Report, for consideration by the School;
- consideration, by the relevant Academic Standards Committees (ASCs), of the Head of School’s and Head of College’s response to the Panel’s recommendations;
- consideration, by the ASCs, of the Head of School’s progress report on implementation of the recommendations one year following the ASC’s consideration of the Panel’s Report.
- Appendix 3.8: Information for Those Preparing
for Internal Teaching Review.
This includes a number of Annexes:
- Appendix 3.9: Internal Teaching Review: Guidance Notes for Staff invited to meet Visiting Panels
- Appendix 3.10: Internal Teaching Review: An Introduction for Students
- Appendix 3.11: Internal Teaching Review: Information for Panel Members and Clerks
3.5.36 Internal Teaching Review reports identify both commendable aspects of a School’s provision and also generate a series of recommendations in regard to the enhancement of its teaching and learning activities. In addition, good practice that might be considered for wider dissemination within the University is specifically highlighted.
3.5.37 The Senate, on 7 June 1995, agreed that Schools should, on a regular basis, maintain files of documentation which were likely to be required for academic audit purposes. These “Audit Files” should include the reports relating to the SCEF exercise; extracts from School Committees (e.g. Staff-Student Liaison Committee; Teaching Committee [or equivalent]); External Examiners’ Reports; statistical data and analyses; new course and programme proposals; student handbooks; and Programme Review, Internal Teaching Review, and accreditation reports, where applicable. Many of these are required Appendices for Internal Teaching Review Submissions (see Appendix 3.8 for further details).
3.5.38 It is recommended that Audit Files contain the above documents in separate sections. This will allow any action to be taken as a consequence of, for example, External Examiners’ Reports to be included with the relevant reports to confirm that follow-up action has been taken where necessary and that recommendations have been implemented.
Learning from Internal and External Reports and Publications
3.6.1 Enhancement-led Institutional Review, internal teaching reviews, professional accreditation reports, and feedback from External Examiners, students and employers should lead to a continual enhancement of the quality of individual courses and programmes, and of a School’s educational provision in general.
3.6.2 Relevant publications produced by the various “quality” agencies (e.g. QAA, Quality Enhancement Themes, Universities UK, Universities Scotland) are considered by the University Committee on Teaching and Learning (UCTL), which highlights any issues of relevance to enhancing the quality of the University’s teaching and learning activities and environment.
3.6.3 In May 2009, as part of the University’s Curriculum Reform project, the University Committee on Teaching and Learning approved an Institutional Strategy for the Identification and Dissemination of Good Practice in Learning and Teaching (Appendix 3.12). The Strategy aims ‘to raise awareness, improve understanding and stimulate activity with the overall purpose of enhancing teaching and learning’. The Strategy details various channels for dissemination within the University and gives details of the Institutional commitments in regard to dissemination of good practice highlighted through Course and Programme Review (see 3.3 above), Internal Teaching Review (3.5.21-3.5.25 above), External Examiner reports (3.5.10-3.5.14 above), external accreditation reports and other relevant publications.
Enhancement-led Institutional Review
3.6.4 Enhancement-led Institutional Review (ELIR), which forms part of SFC’s Quality Enhancement Framework, is conducted by the Quality Assurance Agency once every five years. Further details on ELIR are provided in Section 2, sub-section 2.5.
External Reference Points
3.6.5 As indicated in sub-section 2.2, the QAA, to support its new approach to the review of quality and standards, has published the following documents:-
- guidance on developing Programme Specifications,to help institutions set out clearly the intended outcomes of their programmes;
- National Subject Benchmark Statements, to provide a means for the academic community to describe the nature and characteristics of programmes in a specific subject. They also represent general expectations about the standards for the award of qualifications at a given level and articulate the attributes and capabilities that those possessing such qualifications should be able to demonstrate;
- Codes of Practice in the areas recommended by the Dearing Report, to promulgate good practice in relation to the support of student learning and the maintenance of academic standards. The various sections of the Code, taken together, will form an overall Code of Practice for the Assurance of Academic Quality and Standards in Higher Education, for the guidance of higher education institutions;
- the Framework for Qualifications of Higher Education Institutions in Scotland (and a complementary framework for HE qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
3.6.6 The following sections of the QAA’s Code of Practice have been published and can be accessed at www.qaa.ac.uk
- Section 1: Postgraduate Research Programmes (2004)
- Section 2: Collaborative Provision and Flexible and Distributed Learning (2004)
- Section 3: Students with Disabilities (1999)
- Section 4: External Examining (2004)
- Section 5: Academic Appeals and Student Complaints on Academic Matters (2007)
- Section 6: Assessment of Students (2006)
- Section 7: Programme Approval, Monitoring and Review (2006)
- Section 8: Career Education, Information and Guidance (2001)
- Section 9: Placement Learning (2001)
- Section 10: Recruitment and Admissions (2001)
3.6.7 The Subject Benchmark Statements are primarily for use at the School level, to inform Schools in the review of their programmes. As part of the University’s decision to re-validate all its existing provision during 2010, Programme Specifications, which take account of Subject Benchmark Statements where relevant, will be prepared for all programmes.
3.6.8 The various sections of the QAA’s Code of Practice and the Qualifications Framework have been considered by the University Committee on Teaching and Learning, and by other committees where appropriate. Where the University’s existing practice did not meet the expectations of these external reference documents, consideration has been given as to whether new procedures should be implemented; and, where appropriate, policy issues have been referred to the Senate.
3.6.9 Examples of quality enhancement arising from the consideration of the above external publications are the strengthening of the University’s assessment and external examining policies and practices, as detailed in Section 7 and Section 9, respectively, and the introduction of the University's guidance on Placement Learning (Appendix 6.1).
University Committee on Teaching and Learning
3.6.10 The University Committee on Teaching and Learning (UCTL) plays a pivotal role in quality enhancement. In addition to continually reviewing the University’s educational policies, the UCTL periodically establishes working groups to advise the Committee on relevant issues in regard to teaching and learning. In the past three years, working groups have been established to consider the Common Assessment Scale; the Postgraduate Grade Spectrum; Student Course Evaluation Form.
Learning & Teaching Framework (LTF)
3.6.11 The Learning & Teaching Framework (2007-2010) sets out the University’s vision for learning and teaching and serves as a tool to aid College and School planning. The Framework is a valuable tool for self-evaluation of learning and teaching across the institution, at both programme and course level. The framework addresses three key themes: a Learner Focused Curriculum, Support and Development (for both students and staff) and the Learning Environment.
Learning & Teaching Operational Plan
3.6.12 Our annual Learning and Teaching Operational Plan details the key learning and teaching areas we will concentrate on each academic year together with brief details as to how, and when, we intend to achieve each target area.
3.6.13 The work of reforming our curriculum has influenced substantially the overarching directionality of our learning & teaching enhancement agenda: in June 2007, with the establishment of a Curriculum Commission imminent, it was ‘confirmed [in Senate] that [LTF] would provide the foundations on which the Curriculum Reform would be built’. Consequently, a strong element of our most recent annual Learning and Teaching Operational Plan deals with the work of implementing the many changes associated with reforming our curriculum.
- Appointment Procedures;
- Initial Development;
- Developing Staff for Special Roles e.g. Advisers of Studies;
- Continuous Professional Development and Performance Evaluation;
- Appraisal and Promotion Procedures.
3.7.4 For all appointments where teaching is important, as much weight is given to teaching aptitude as to other aspects, and it is now general policy that short-listed candidates should normally give a presentation on a topic of their choice as part of the selection process. Where newly qualified staff lack the necessary training and development the University is committed to identifying the need and providing appropriate development.
3.7.5 Full information relating to the University’s recruitment and selection procedures is available online at: www.abdn.ac.uk/hr/
Centre for Learning & Teaching
3.7.6 The Centre for Learning & Teaching provides advice and support for all aspects of learning, teaching and assessment. Through collaborations with Colleges, Schools and individuals, the Centre aims to enhance the quality of the University’s educational provision and support its mission to ‘be excellent in delivering teaching’. This aim is in part achieved through the identification and dissemination of good practice in learning and teaching for which the Centre provides a central focus (ref appendix for Strategy for the Identification and Dissemination of Good Practice in Teaching and Learning 2009-10). The Centre for Learning & Teaching is also home to the Student Learning Service which provides support for students wishing to enhance their study skills (ref 5.21).
3.7.7 The University is committed to ensuring that all those who support student learning are provided with adequate opportunities to undertake structured development opportunities. This is provided through the following routes, co-ordinated and delivered by the Centre for Learning & Teaching:
Introduction to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education course
3.7.8 The Introduction to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education is a mandatory, two-day course for new lecturers on probation at the University. Since 2007 the course has also been made available to Teaching Fellows. The course explores the perspective range of methods and approaches to teaching from the perspective of both staff and student, enabling new staff to define a critical rationale for their own teaching practice. It goes on to provide a framework for understanding the current contexts of higher education, both in Scotland and more widely across the UK. Staff are also made aware of the various support and advice mechanisms available to them.
Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Learning & Teaching/Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Education
3.7.9 The Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Learning & Teaching are credit-bearing programmes. The PG Certificate in HE Learning & Teaching is accredited by the Higher Education Academy. Its intended audience is all staff who teach or who are involved in learning support at the University. Its aims are to enable participants to develop a structured approach to their teaching and learning activities, and to think systematically about and plan for their own professional development. Further details are available at: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/clt/pgcert
Initial Postgraduate Demonstrators Development
3.7.10 Centre for Learning & Teaching staff contribute to the three College-wide Induction programmes for postgraduate demonstrators and tutorial assistants by providing professional development in learning and teaching.
Programme of courses for postgraduate demonstrators, teaching assistants, postdoctoral and contract research staff with occasional teaching duties
3.7.11 A short, structured series of courses designed around the needs of the above groups of staff have been run since 2002. These courses build upon and extend the range of materials and concepts of teaching and learning introduced during the three Colleges’ “Induction for Postgraduates” courses. Support is also made available for these staff if they wish to apply to become Associate Registered Practitioners of the Higher Education Academy.
3.7.12 Further bespoke development can be made available upon request for Teaching Assistants, foreign Language Assistants, Demonstrators, and those with honorary teaching appointments.
Open programme of courses
3.7.13 All staff with roles in the support of student learning are provided with development opportunities through a range of training courses. A typical programme would include courses covering:
- Learning Styles and Approaches
- 20 formative assessment techniques
- Presentation Skills
- Working with Small Groups
- Introducing Personal Development Planning for Students
- Supporting Staff in applying for Registered Practitioner Status of the Higher Education Academy
along with opportunities to engage with the latest national developments in higher education teaching introduced through the annual Quality Enhancement themes.
3.7.14 All of the courses available in the open programme, along with requests for specific courses, can be tailored and delivered to individual discipline areas, Schools or Colleges subject to availability of resource.
Support for eLearning
3.7.15 Centre for Learning & Teaching staff provide support and training in the use of eLearning for teaching. Support includes generic workshops and demonstrations, tailored training for Schools and course teams, one-to-one consultation, advice on online course design and support for e-assessment. The service also includes support for pilot projects (e.g. video in teaching, web conferencing), investigation and evaluation of the software available for specific teaching requirements and support for new programme start-up. Applications supported include WebCT (the institutional VLE), Question Mark perception for e-assessment, PRD (electronic voting systems), interactive lectern and whiteboard software and TurnitinUK (plagiarism avoidance software).
Projects and Ongoing Development
3.7.16 Centre for Learning & Teaching staff work in partnership with academic staff to support existing work and to encourage innovation in learning and teaching.
Annual Learning & Teaching Symposium
3.7.17 The Centre for Learning & Teaching organises an annual Learning & Teaching Symposium, in discussion with the UCTL. This is a major, Institution-wide event aimed at both highlighting national and international good practice in learning & teaching, and also at celebrating the work of staff from across the University.
Annual Teaching Fellows’ Symposium
3.7.18 The Centre for Learning & Teaching organises an annual event aimed specifically at Teaching Fellows. The event brings together Teaching Fellows from across the University, providing an opportunity both to share good practice in learning & teaching, and to hear from nationally recognised experts in the field.
Appraisal and Promotion Procedures
3.7.19 The University has an appraisal system for all categories of staff which is undertaken annually. Full details are available online at: www.abdn.ac.uk/hr/iip/resources.shtml
3.7.20 The University runs an annual Promotion & Contribution Award Exercise. The procedures for promotion incorporate the HERA Framework Evaluation elements and have been developed and agreed following consultation with the University’s recognized Trade Unions. As part of the implementation of the Framework Agreement, a number of generic role profiles for Academic, Research and Teaching staff were agreed at national level. The University has adopted the use of these National Academic Role Profiles.Full details relating to the Promotion & Contribution Award Exercise are available online at: www.abdn.ac.uk/hr/promotion
3.7.21 Occasionally, relief teachers are appointed on a fixed-term basis. The University Committee on Teaching and Learning has approved the following recommendations in regard to relief teaching, which were noted by the Senate on 14 June 2000:-
- Heads of School should be responsible for identifying relief teachers whom they wished to engage temporarily to undertake the teaching duties of other staff. They should also verify that relief teachers had the experience and ability needed to ensure that the standards and quality of teaching normally required by the School would be maintained.
- Heads of School should send to their Heads of College applications for the appointment of relief teachers, together with confirmation of the length of the appointment, and seek authorisation for such appointments. Heads of School should also copy the information, including the CVs of relief teachers, to the Convener of the relevant Academic Standards Committee for information.
- If a relief teacher was being engaged to undertake the teaching duties of a Course Co-ordinator, the relief teacher should not be identified as the Course Co-ordinator (paragraph 3.3.8 refers). In such cases, Heads of School should identify a member of their full-time academic staff to serve as Course Co-ordinator.
- During the period of appointment of a relief teacher, a member of the School academic staff (normally the Course Co-ordinator) normally should act as his/her mentor. At the start of the temporary appointment, the mentor should give the relief teacher full and clear guidance in writing regarding his/her responsibilities. Normally, also, the mentor or another, senior, member of the academic staff should observe a sample number of the relief teacher’s teaching sessions and give him/her appropriate written and oral feedback.
3 A small number of exceptions exist at undergraduate level in that some inter-disciplinary programmes are not related to any specific Subject Group (as defined by the QAA) and lead to awards governed by the University’s Regulations. Examples are some non-honours degrees. These programmes are therefore overseen by the relevant Undergraduate Programme Committee.
4 Strengthening External Examining - HEQC 1996
5 In certain areas, reviews have been conducted at a discipline rather than School level.