UCL Programme Specifications - Guidance Notes on Completing a Programme Specification for an Undergraduate or Taught Postgraduate Programme

Academic Services contact for initial enquiries - Sandra Hinton (s.hinton@ucl.ac.uk)

Please note: At UCL, programme specifications form part of - and have been explicitly designed to facilitate - our internal programme approval, quality monitoring and review processes. They are not intended to be, or designed to act as, primarily a source of information for students, potential students, employers or other external stakeholders - relevant information for these various stakeholders is provided in more appropriate and accessible formats, e.g., the UCL prospectuses, departmental handbooks, programme guides, course outlines, many of which are available online. However, as programme specifications are publicly available, you should ensure that students and external stakeholders can easily access the full range of information available. Therefore you should always provide within the programme specification a web address or other link to where more detailed information about the programme can be obtained.

Programme Specifications for all UCL taught programmes are available online here.

These guidance notes are intended to assist in writing a programme specification for an undergraduate or taught postgraduate programme. On this page you will also find worked examples which are intended to assist you in the creation of your programme specification. Please note that these are examples only and do not reflect the programmes as they currently exist. As it offers an opportunity for a programme team to reflect on the aims and outcomes of their programme, the creation of a programme specification is envisaged as an academic, rather than an administrative activity.

For single-subject undergraduate programmes (e.g. BA (Hons) Scandinavian Studies) a single programme specification should be completed for that subject. For combined studies programmes (e.g. BA Scandinavian Studies with Management Studies) a programme specification should be created for each element of that particular combination. Inter-departmental and inter-faculty programmes (e.g. BSc Natural Sciences, BA European Social and Political Studies) should complete a discrete programme specification for the whole programme. Examples of the types of taught programmes are:

  • BA
  • BSc
  • MSci
  • MA
  • MSc
  • Postgraduate Diploma

The notes that follow relate to the sections of the programme specification template and are a guide to filling in each section. The UCL Programme Specification template specifies institutional-level core reporting requirements, which individual faculties may, if they so wish, supplement in order to reflect the particular nature of their provision or to include particular information of relevance e.g., in vocationally-oriented subjects.

1. Programme Title

1.1 The subject title of the programme, e.g. “BA (Hons) Scandinavian Studies”, “MA Renaissance Studies”.

1.2 If filling out a programme specification for an award which has stages within it, please state all possible awards.

2. Final Award

2.1 Give the title of the degree or other award in abbreviated form, e.g. MA, MSci, BSc.

2.2 Please state all awards within the programme, e.g. MA, Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate.

3. UCAS Code (JACS code)

3.1 This is only for undergraduate programmes and is the UCAS Code allocated to the programme. This is known as the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS) Code, e.g. “F700”.

4. Cohorts

4.1 Please state the cohort to which the programme specification is applicable – e.g. ‘from session 2012-13 intake onwards'

5. Awarding Institution/body

5.1 This will normally be “University College London”.

6. Teaching Institution

6.1 This will normally be “University College London”. However you should list any external organisations or institutions involved in the delivery of teaching on the programme. If relevant, please include all UCL departments (other than the parent department) involved in the delivery of teaching on the programme.

7. Faculty

7.1 Please state the Faculty that owns the programme.

8. Parent Department

8.1 Please state the department (or other academic unit as appropriate) responsible for the administration of the programme.

9. Departmental web page address

9.1 Please insert a link to the departmental web page address here, if applicable.

10. Methods of study e.g.: FT/PT

10.1 State the different methods of study e.g. full-time, part-time, distance learning, flexible, modular.

11. Criteria for admission to the programme

11.1 This information should be the same as your entry in the relevant UCL prospectus. This should be checked before completing the entry.

12. Length of the Programme

12.1 For the above methods of study indicate the expected length of study for the main award, part-time versions of the main award and any subsidiary awards.

13. Level on Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ)

13.1 The FHEQ has been designed to ensure a consistent use of qualification titles across the HE sector. In considering the appropriate level for a qualification the following should have been considered:

  • the relationship between the intended outcomes of the programme and the expectations set out in the qualification descriptors;
  • whether there is a sufficient volume of assessed study that will demonstrate that the learning outcomes have been achieved; and
  • whether the design of the curriculum and assessments is such that all students following the programme have the opportunity to achieve and demonstrate the intended outcomes.

13.2 For more information and a map of the various levels of the framework please see here.

14. Relevant QAA Subject Benchmark Group(s)

14.1 Working closely with the sector, QAA has published subject benchmark statements for a range of disciplines to set out clearly the academic characteristics and standards of UK programmes. Some benchmark statements combine or make reference to professional standards required by external professional or regulatory bodies in the discipline. Please state the relevant QAA Benchmarking statement (see here). If no benchmarking statement exists for the programme please state “not applicable”.

15. Brief outline of the structure of the programme and its assessment methods

15.1 Here you may insert a link to the relevant page of your departmental/faculty website where details of the structure of the programme/the course handbook may be found.

16. Board of Examiners

16.1 Please give the full title of the Board of Examiners for the programme – e.g. “Board of Examiners in Scandinavian Studies”. Please do not also list individual members of staff or external examiners.

17. Professional Body Accreditation (if applicable)

17.1 This is any professional or statutory body that accredits the programme, e.g. "The Law Society", "Royal Institute of British Architects".

18. Educational Aims of the Programme This programme aims to develop the student's interest in and knowledge and understanding of .....

18.1 Please specify the broad aims of the programme. This could be the same as an entry in your programme handbook, for example.

18.2 These aims should reflect the subject benchmark, university aims and individual programme aims. In writing aims you should consider the way in which the programme addresses the interests of students, employers, sponsors and professional bodies. Please see the worked example programme specifications for how to identify relevance to benchmarks, etc.

19. Programme Outcomes (including Teaching, Learning and Assessment Strategies)

19.1 In the first column specify the learning outcomes for the programme(s). Reference points should include the subject benchmark (if one exists), qualification descriptors (see the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications), professional body requirements etc. The column is split into four sections – Knowledge and Understanding, Intellectual Skills and Attributes and Practical Skills/Attributes and Transferable Skills/attributes.

19.2 In the second column, state the learning and teaching methods used to enable students to achieve these outcomes. You may want to highlight which outcomes are achieved by which methods (see examples).

19.3 Also in the second column, state the assessment methods/strategies used to test that a student has achieved these outcomes. You may wish to highlight which outcomes are measured by each type of assessment.

19.4 Whilst looking at learning, teaching and assessment methods, you may wish to consider the following:

(a) How the learning and teaching methods in the programme relate to the Department/Faculty and the UCL learning and teaching strategies.
(b) Whether the programme embeds elements of teamwork, peer assessment, oral presentation and other skills alongside acquisition of subject knowledge and understanding.
(c) The assessment pattern from level to level, e.g. which marks will contribute to the final result, marking schemes and pass marks. If this information is held in detail on relevant departmental /faculty websites please insert links to these.
(d) Details of assessment, e.g. length of projects, type of examination, etc.
(e) Study abroad and work placements, how student progress is monitored and how these aspects contribute to the programme overall.

20. Programme Organiser(s)

20.1 The name of the member(s) of staff responsible for the programme.

21. Date of Production/Date of Review

21.1 This should be the date on which the programme specification was originally developed and any subsequent dates where revisions to the programme content were made. Programme specifications are part of UCL's Annual Monitoring (AM) process and Programme Directors/ Organisers are asked as part of the AM process, to record the date at which the programme specification was reviewed (even of no changes were made) as part of this process.

21.2 The Guidelines state that the Programme Director/Programme Organiser should, in their annual monitoring report, ‘comment on any structural changes to the programme which have been made in the preceding year which might necessitate an updating of the existing programme specification. Even where no changes have been made, Programme Directors/Programme Organisers are invited to review the programme specification and consider how it might usefully be refreshed'.

If you have any further queries on completing your programme specification, please contact Sandra Hinton in Academic Services (Telephone - 020 7679 8590; Internal extension - 28590; Fax - 020 7679 8595).


Page editors: Rachel Port (r.port@ucl.ac.uk); Sandra Hinton (s.hinton@ucl.ac.uk)