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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education
 
 

Subject benchmark statements 

Statements setting out what achievement is expected according to level and subject 

Subject benchmark statements set out expectations about standards of degrees in a range of subject areas. They describe what gives a discipline its coherence and identity, and define what can be expected of a graduate in terms of the abilities and skills needed to develop understanding or competence in the subject.

Working closely with the higher education sector, we have published subject benchmark statements for a range of disciplines. Some statements combine or make reference to professional standards required by external professional or regulatory bodies in the discipline.

Subject benchmark statements do not represent a national curriculum in a subject area. Rather, they allow for flexibility and innovation in programme design within an overall conceptual framework established by an academic subject community. They are intended to assist those involved in programme design, delivery and review and may also be of interest to prospective students and employers, seeking information about the nature and standards of awards in a subject area.

Subject benchmark statements are available for honours degrees and master's degrees. There are also statements specifically for NHS/Department of Health qualifications and for professional qualifications in Scotland (see also tabs on the left).

Recognition scheme for subject benchmark statements

New subject benchmark statements are developed through the recognition scheme for subject benchmark statements. The scheme seeks to ensure that criteria relating to subject sufficiency and distinction are met and that the process of developing a new subject benchmark statement is representative of the views of the subject community.

When we receive an expression of interest to develop a new statement, the proposal is evaluated against the recognition scheme criteria in consultation with subject experts and the Quality Code Steering Group. Enquiries surrounding the development of new statements should be directed to benchmarking@qaa.ac.uk.

Review of subject benchmark statements

We have committed to initiating a review of existing subject benchmark statements no later than five years after they were originally published and seven years after the first revision.

Subject benchmarking across Europe

Tuning Educational Structures in Europe (the 'Tuning' initiative), sponsored by the European Commission, seeks to identify generic and subject-specific competences for first-cycle degrees within the European Higher Education Area. Phase 1 covered 9 discipline areas; Phase 2 a further 15. These reference points, which address workload as well as learning outcomes, support the objectives of the Bologna Process.

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