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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

QAA publishes revised Subject Benchmark Statements

Date 29/09/2015

QAA has published revised Subject Benchmark Statements for Linguistics, Optometry, and Languages, Cultures and Societies.
Subject Benchmark Statements form part of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education. They set out expectations about standards of degrees in a range of subject areas, describing what gives a discipline its coherence and identity, and defining what can be expected of a graduate in terms of the abilities and skills needed to develop understanding or competence in the subject. QAA reviews Subject Benchmark Statements regularly to ensure that they remain current and useful.


The Linguistics Statement has been updated to reflect developments in the discipline, including the appearance of new technology, and the emergence of new sub-fields of Linguistics. A new subsection covering applications of linguistic analysis has also been added. The document has been made clearer, more balanced and more effective for current and prospective students, and for employers.


The revised Optometry Statement reflects changes affecting the optometry profession and students seeking entry to the profession. The GOC approved the introduction of new standards of practice for students, from 1 April 2016, and revised its handbook for the accreditation of optometry programmes, placing emphasis on the requirement for students to achieve core clinical competencies and requisite numbers and types of patient experience. The need for programmes to comply with these requirements is acknowledged and institutes are encouraged to adopt differing learning and teaching strategies to provide distinctive programmes of study, reflecting staff expertise.

Languages, Cultures and Societies

The changes to the Languages, Cultures and Societies Statement reflect the changing context for the study of languages in the UK and the development of new areas of provision. They include:

  • an amendment to the Statement title
  • recognition of its relevance for programmes in English as a second language
  • Celtic languages and British Sign Language
  • reference to the learning outcomes specified in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
  • Learning, Teaching and Assessment (CEFR)
  • reference to e-learning and digital literacy
  • an appendix listing typical degrees for which the Statement is a key reference.