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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

The UK Quality Code for Higher Education

​​​​​​​​​​​Subject Benchmark Statements

Subject Benchmark Statements are part of the Quality Code - Part A: Setting and maintaining academic standards.

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 are available for:

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.

We regularly consult on new Subject Benchmark Statements and invite comments​ from anyone who might be interested in them. For further information, please check our consultations section periodically.

​​​Review of Statements

​We are committed to initiating a review of existing honours and master's degree Subject Benchmark Statements no later than five years after they were originally developed or seven years following a first review. For further information on the most recent ​review of all Benchmark Statements ​see Subject Benchmark review 2013-16​.​

How are new Statements develop​​ed?

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. The Steering Group was established to take strategic oversight of the development of the Quality Code. It was made up of representatives from higher education sector bodies across the UK. The Steering Group meets twice a year, in autumn and spring. 

Enquiries surrounding the develo​pment of new statements should be directed to QAA enquires.​

Subject benchmarking across Europe

Tuning Educational Structures in Europe (opens in new window)​ (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 to establish compatibility of qualifications across Europe​.

Further information

If you would like to know more, or if you are a subject representative wishing to be involved in the benchmarking process, please contact us.