This Theme aims to help providers design and develop courses effectively, creating unique and market-attractive programmes through a culture of innovation, creativity and continuous improvement. Course design can be informed by feedback from a range of sources and reflect multidisciplinary research, contemporary industry practice, technological advancements and current affairs.
Expectations and Practices for Course Design and Development
Expectations for standards
The academic standards of courses meet the requirements of the relevant national qualifications framework.
The value of qualifications awarded to students at the point of qualification and over time is in line with sector-recognised standards.
Expectation for quality
Courses are well-designed, provide a high-quality academic experience for all students and enable a student’s achievement to be reliably assessed.
Core practices for standards
The provider ensures that the threshold standards for its qualifications are consistent with the relevant national qualifications frameworks.
Where a provider works in partnership with other organisations, it has in place effective arrangements to ensure that the standards of its awards are credible and secure irrespective of where or how courses are delivered or who delivers them.
The provider uses external expertise, assessment and classification processes that are reliable, fair and transparent.
Common practice for standards
The provider reviews its core practices for standards regularly and uses the outcomes to drive improvement and enhancement.
Core practices for quality
The provider designs and/or delivers high-quality courses.
The provider has sufficient appropriately qualified and skilled staff to deliver a high-quality academic experience.
The provider has sufficient and appropriate facilities, learning resources and student support services to deliver a high-quality academic experience.
Where a provider works in partnership with other organisations, it has in place effective arrangements to ensure that the academic experience is high-quality irrespective of where or how courses are delivered and who delivers them.
Common practices for quality
The provider reviews its core practices for quality regularly and uses the outcomes to drive improvement and enhancement.
The provider engages students individually and collectively in the development, assurance and enhancement of the quality of their educational experience.
- Strategic oversight ensures that course design, development and approval processes and outcomes remain consistent and transparent.
- Accessible and flexible processes for course design, development and approval facilitate continuous improvement of provision and are proportionate to risk.
- Internal guidance and external reference points are used in course design, development and approval.
- Feedback from internal and external stakeholders is used to inform course content.
- Development of staff, students and other participants enables effective engagement with the course design, development and approval processes.
- Course design, development and approval processes result in definitive course documents.
- Design, development and approval processes are reviewed and enhanced.
Credit and Qualification Frameworks
- The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF, 0.24MB) QAA, November 2014
- Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF)
- Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales
- The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (see SCQF Handbook, volumes 1 and 2)
- Framework for Qualifications in the European Higher Educations Area
- Guidance on academic credit arrangements in higher education in England (August 2008)
Award Specific Guidance
- Subject Benchmarks Statements, QAA
- Apprenticeship Standards, Insitutute for Apprenticeships
- Quality Assuring Apprenticeships in Higher Education: Current Approaches (PDF, 0.77MB), QAA
- The Office for Students advice and guidance on degree apprenticeships
- Foundation Degree Characteristics Statement (PDF, 0.19MB), QAA, 2015
- Master's Degree Characteristics Statement (PDF, 0.26MB), QAA, 2015
- Doctoral Degree Characteristics Statement (PDF, 0.41MB), QAA, 2015
- Credit Level Descriptors for Higher Education (PDF, 0.49MB), SEEC, 2016
- Skills Development Scotland Apprenticeships
- Enhancement Themes