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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education


​​​​​QAA terms explained

This glossary explains terms that are frequently used in our work and publications.

Click on the appropriate letter(s) to find​​​ your required explanation.​

This glossary is also available in Welsh. Mae'r eirfa hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg​​.

  • sandwich course

    ​​A programme of study that includes a significant time - normally a year - spent studying away from the university or college (typically in a work-based setting).​
  • second marking

    ​​As the name implies, a second stage of marking, which may be for checking, sampling or moderation purposes. See also double marking.​
  • self-evaluation document

    ​​(SED) A report submitted by a higher education provider, assessing its own performance, to be used as evidence in a QAA review.​

  • semester

    Either of the parts of an academic year that is divided into two for purposes of teaching and assessment (in contrast to division into terms).

  • serial arrangement

    ​​The situation arising when a delivery organisation that is responsible for programmes franchised to it (or validated) by a degree-awarding body enters into a separate arrangement with a third party to deliver those entire programmes. 

  • standard

  • statutory body

    ​​An organisation set up through Act of Parliament that has a legal requirement to oversee a particular profession (for example, the General Medical Council). See also regulatory body.​
  • student engagement

    ​​Communicating with students and involving them in how the standards and quality of their higher education are set and maintained.​

  • student submission

    A report submitted by students at a provider of UK higher education to be used as evidence in a QAA review.

  • subject benchmark statement

    A published statement (part of the Quality Code, Part A) that sets out what knowledge, understanding, abilities and skills are expected of those graduating in each of the main subject areas, and explains what gives that particular discipline its coherence and identity. The statements are consistent with the relevant generic qualification descriptors.

  • summative assessment

    ​​Formal assessment of students' work, contributing to the final result. See also formative assessment.​

  • Summative Review

    ​​A review by QAA of higher education provision delivered within a further education college, with published findings. It normally follows on from an earlier investigation stage known as Developmental Engagement.​

  • support provider

    An organisation, other than the degree-awarding body, that supplies resources or facilities to support student learning. This may be a higher education provider without degree-awarding powers, a degree-awarding body other than that granting the award (for example in the context of some federal structures), an employer or another organisation approved by the degree-awarding body.

  • synoptic assessment

    ​​Assessment through a task that requires students to draw on different elements of their learning and show their accumulated knowledge and breadth and depth of understanding, as well as the ability to integrate and apply their learning.​