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Section 2: Approval of New Taught Programmes

Published for 2022-23


2. Approval of New Taught Programmes2.3 Outline Approval
2.1 Timelines for the Approval of Taught Programmes2.4 Final Approval
2.2 Initial Programme Development 

2. Approval of New Taught Programmes

1.New taught programmes are approved by the UCL Education Committee under powers delegated from the UCL Academic Board. The Education Committee is advised by the Programme and Module Approval Panels (PMAP).
2.Programme planning is the first phase with new proposals considered through the Student Numbers Planning process with the mandate for further development granted by Financial Performance Committee. Design, development and approval takes place in two stages: Outline Approval, which is granted by the relevant Faculty Teaching Committee; Final Approval, which is granted by the Education Committee.
3.Faculties and Departments may adopt local practices in addition to those outlined below, such as the involvement of additional committees or the Vice-Dean(s) Education. However, PMAP will continue to require sign-off from the named individuals and groups listed in the Programme Proposal form.

2.1 Timelines for the Approval of Taught Programmes

1.For marketing of programmes to be given the best opportunity to attract the highest quality students, for programmes to be included in the prospectus, and for UCL to uphold its responsibilities with respect to consumer protection legislation, the following deadlines are essential:
 a)For undergraduate programmes:
Final Approval should be achieved not later than November of the calendar year two years prior to the intended start of a programme (22 months in advance of a September start).
 b)For postgraduate programmes:
Final Approval should be achieved not later than the end of June in the year prior to the intended start of a programme (15 months in advance of a September start).
2.Where it has not been possible to meet the deadlines outlined above, final approval must be achieved not later than the end of September in the year prior to the intended start of a programme (12 months in advance of a September start).
3.While these are the very latest deadlines, programme initiators should be encouraged to begin work on programme development and Outline Approval much earlier to give sufficient time for: effective competition/market appraisal (both within and outside of UCL); development and approval of the business case; obtaining Faculty approval. Programme initiators should aspire to the timelines outlined in Annex 7.1.1: Detailed timelines for Programme Approval and Amendment.
4.Prior to embarking on the process towards outline approval, the full business case for new programme proposals including the additional student numbers must be considered as part of the Student Numbers Planning (SNP) process and approved by the Financial Performance Committee (FPC). The FPC meets regularly throughout the year and the specific date for FPC consideration of any given programme will be agreed with the VP (Strategy) normally as part of the SNP meeting in July. This is a new requirement from 2022/23.
5.Programme initiators should note that FPC approval is required prior to the consideration of Outline Approval at a PMAP meeting. New programme proposals at Outline Approval Stage must be submitted no less than 10 working days in advance of a meeting. Submissions received later than 10 working days in advance of a meeting will be considered at a subsequent meeting of the Panel. A comprehensive list of the dates on which PMAP will meet in 2022-23, as well as the corresponding paper deadlines, can be found in Annex 7.1.2: PMAP 2022-23: Meeting Dates and Paper Deadlines.

2.2 Initial Programme Development

1.The intention to develop a new programme should be reflected in the relevant department’s strategic plan and should be included in the Faculty's strategic operating plan. This ensures that any projected increase in student numbers and/or required funding for staffing and learning resources is anticipated.
2.In addition, new programmes and their planned student numbers should be included in the student numbers planning submission as part of the annual Student Numbers Planning exercise. In year changes to student intake plans can be made using the Change Request process.
3.Programme initiators must consider how their programme contributes to the achievement of UCL’s strategic aims and objectives as detailed in: UCL 2034; the Education Strategy 2022-27 and the Global Engagement Strategy as well as considering how the programme will embed equality, diversity and inclusion.
4.A programme proposal is usually initiated and developed at department level, in close consultation with relevant members of staff in the Faculty (usually the Faculty Tutor). Programme initiators should consult with the following relevant parties or documents when developing their programme proposal:
  
  • Head of Department;
  • Faculty Dean (or nominee such as Vice Dean Education);
  • Faculty Tutor;
  • The MarComms team in Office of the Vice-President (External Engagement), including the Director of Faculty Marketing; the Faculty Head of Marketing and Communications and Departmental colleagues responsible for Communications and Marketing;
  • Departmental colleagues and colleagues in other cognate disciplines;
  • Current or former students studying in cognate areas;
  • School Finance Director;
  • UCL Planning team;
  • UCL Estates team;
  • UCL Arena Centre – for advice on learning, teaching and assessment practice;
  • Library Services;
  • Digital Education;
  • Online and Lifelong Learning;
  • Study Abroad Office and Visa Compliance team - for programmes with an optional or compulsory period of study abroad;
  • Placement Information Pack for programmes that include an optional or compulsory period of placement (For further information on the pack, please refer to Chapter 8 of the 2022-23 UCL Academic Manual);
  • Academic Partnerships Review Group (APRG) – for programmes that will be delivered in partnership with others;
  • UCL Apprenticeships Steering Group – for Level 7 / Masters apprenticeship programmes. (For further information on Level 7 / Masters apprenticeships, please refer to Chapter 11 of the 2022-23 UCL Academic Manual);
  • External colleagues and members of industry;
  • Any professional, statutory or regulatory bodies;
  • The UK Quality Code for Higher Education, developed by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for Higher Education;
  • The Office for Students (OfS) advice and guidance; 
  • Other relevant central services (such as Academic Services).

2.2.1 Programme Structure

1.Information on the level, structure and components of a programme of study, as well as a list of the approved qualifications, and their threshold requirements, can be found in Chapter 7, Part A: Qualifications and Credit Framework.
2.Information on programme length and modes of attendance can be found in Chapter 3, Registration Framework for Taught programmes
3.Assessment, progression, award and classification should follow the regulations set out in Chapter 4, Assessment Framework for Taught Programmes.
4.Where a programme is made up of multiple routes or pathways leading to different named qualifications, the programme diet and statements of aims and learning outcomes must be clear for each.
5.Interim qualifications are available for all UCL programmes. It is possible to offer these interim qualifications as programmes of study, either connected to a larger award or as standalone programmes. In such cases, a programme summary must be maintained for each programme.

2.2.2 Material programme information

1.During the development stage, programme initiators should be mindful of the need to provide clear, accessible and accurate information to prospective and current students on the purpose, structure and aims of their programme.
2.Additionally, UCL is obliged, under the Quality Code and under consumer protection legislation, to provide clear and accurate information to prospective students and offer holders. Therefore, programme initiators must identify the following when designing a new programme:
 a)the level of the programme within the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications;
 b)the intended qualification and any interim qualifications;
 c)the programme title;
 d)the overall credit value;
 e)the programme’s aims, objectives and learning outcomes (with reference to relevant subject benchmark statements);
 f)the entry requirements (both academic and non-academic);
 g)the programme’s structure, including the number and type of contact hours, any compulsory modules, an indication of likely optional modules and the expected workload;
 h)the overall methods of assessment (both formative and summative);
 i)the duration of the programme and its modes of study;
 j)the location(s) of study, including where relevant, any distance learning;
 k)whether the programme could be accredited by a PSRB;
 l)whether the programme will be offered in partnership with others;
 m)whether the programme will have a period in placement or study abroad;
 n)an initial assessment of the tuition fees to be charged (in consultation with the Dean or nominee);
 o)any additional costs to students (such as field trips or material costs);
 p)any barriers to accessibility and how these could be mitigated.
3.The required documents for programme proposals provide space for the programme initiator to record this information.

2.2.3 Business plan and market research

1.As detailed in 2.2 Initial Programme Development Section 4, all programme proposals require approval by the Faculty and the Financial Performance Committee (FPC) prior to consideration of Outline Approval by the Department, the Faculty and PMAP and prior to completion of the detailed programme proposal. Documents required by FPC and as part of the SNP process can be found at the UCL Planning Team Sharepoint and are:
 a) The Faculty Portfolio Plan which contextualises the new programme
 b) The New Programme Impact Assessment, including consideration of potential programme overlap or duplication, the implications for the student experience and information on the likely impact on central UCL resources including teaching space and regulatory support other admin costs.
 c) The Faculty Business Case Financial Planning Tool template (Annex 7.2.1), detailing the anticipated student numbers, the expected income and any additional staffing, learning resources or other additional costs that may be incurred within the Faculty. 
 d)Evidence of market research. The completion of the Market Research Question Set (in Annex 7.2.2) leads to a structured discussion with the Director of Faculty Marketing and Faculty Head of Marketing and Communications on new programme rationale, evidence of demand, competition, proposed content, and graduate outcomes, with a series of recommended actions identified and agreed by the Director of Faculty Marketing
2.Templates for these documents will be released annually as part of the Student Numbers Planning process and Faculty submissions will be considered as part of the SNP process involving the Faculty Tutor/ Vice-Dean Education, Dean of Faculty and School Finance Director. The SNP process will enable updates to new programmes and numbers at additional points during the year. 
3.Programme proposals must complete the full business case (as above), including market research prior to developing the programme. Programmes that cannot demonstrate full business case viability and marketability will not be considered for outline approval. 

2.2.4 Programme development with the UCL Arena Centre

1.Programme initiators for all taught programmes must contact the UCL Arena Centre to discuss their programme proposal, in accordance with the timelines provided in Annex 7.1.1
2.Initiators are strongly encouraged to attend a programme development workshop through UCL Arena Centre. This workshop, developed with input from Marketing and Communications and Careers, will support programme initiators in the preparation of programme approval  documentation.  
3.Programme initiators should not enrol on the workshop until the Business case and market research have been signed off.
4.Programme initiators can find further information at Annex 7.2.3 and should take account of the  UCL Assessment Load Model  which can be found at the Education Planning pages of the UCL Teaching and Learning portal.

2.3 Outline Approval

1.Outline approval is confirmed at Faculty level prior to consideration at PMAP and requires sign off from the Head of Department; DTC Chair; Dean of Faculty; School Finance Director and FTC Chair. In order to confirm outline approval, reviewers must satisfy themselves that:
 a) The proposal is included in and/or is in line with department and faculty level strategic operating plans, and student numbers plans;
 b) The business case is appropriate, is backed by reliable market research and has accounted for all associated costs;
 c) The proposed programme will not directly compete with other programmes of study operating in the Faculty or elsewhere in UCL;
 d)The programme initiator(s) have sought or are in the process of seeking advice and guidance from relevant professional services teams or academic colleagues;
 e) That the proposed curriculum is current, appropriate for the level of study and is in line with the relevant subject benchmark statements;
 f) The constituent modules are suitable for the programme, the assessment is appropriately balanced across the modules and any new modules have been reviewed by an external scrutineer;
 g)The proposed programme of study is in line with relevant UCL strategies, such as UCL 2034, the Education Strategy 2022-27 and the Global Engagement Strategy;
 h)If the proposed programme constitutes additional growth in student numbers, there is sufficient space, staffing and resource to accommodate this and that comments from UCL Estates have been taken into account;
 i)Proposals to make use of modules from other programmes of study, departments or faculties have been discussed and agreed with the relevant Head(s) of Departments and Faculty Tutor(s);
 j)Programme proposers for all taught programme proposals have discussed the proposal with the UCL Arena Centre and, where advised, attended a workshop through the Arena Centre on programme development.
2.In addition, reviewers must not approve proposals until all paperwork has been correctly completed. This includes ensuring that:
 a) All documents have been signed in the appropriate place by the named role holder or approved delegate. This is crucial for audit purposes;
 b) All document fields have been completed with the appropriate information, including where relevant, an indication that the field is not applicable;
 c) The documents contain no errors or typographical errors;
 d)All information is presented in a clear and accessible format. This is particularly important when describing the programme structure or the assessment format.
3.Once satisfied, reviewers should provide feedback to the programme initiator on further developments that could be made to the proposal, in preparation for the submission of the programme proposal for consideration by PMAP.
4.Submission to PMAP for Outline approval is contingent on the sign off and approval of the programme business case by FPC. Programmes that do not get full business case viability and marketability approval will not be considered by PMAP for outline approval.

2.3.1 Information and Documentation required

1.Outline approval by PMAP will focus on academic and quality assurance aspects. A summary of the other minimum information and corresponding documentary evidence required for outline programme approval by PMAP, is provided below:
Summary of minimum information and corresponding documentary evidence required for outline programme approval

Category

Information required

Corresponding documentary evidence

Named Roles

Initiator, programme lead, external scrutineer (if known), other nominees

Programme Proposal Form (Annex 7.2.4)

Structure

Proposed start date

Location(s), level(s), mode(s) of study

Qualification title(s) and interim qualification(s), including proposed routes/pathways

Any programme specific entry requirements

New modules proposed and an indicative list of any existing modules

Draft programme summary (Annex 7.2.5)

Programme Diet Template (Annex 7.2.4)

Description

Programme Description (c. 500 words)

Programme Proposal Form (Annex 7.2.4)

Internal Partnerships

Description of intent to make use of existing modules, and other internal partnerships.

Evidence of approaches made to departments for any anticipated module or staff sharing. (This will usually take the form of email correspondence)

External Partnerships (essential if any partnership activity envisaged)

Name of the proposed academic partner.

Evidence of approaches to the academic partner.




Description of any year abroad or placement year, including how it will be organised and assessed.

 

 

 

 

 

Description of any Level 7 / Masters Apprenticeship programme, including how it will be organised, managed and assessed.

Draft Academic Partnership Proposal Form (for APRG). (For further information, refer to Chapter 8 of the 2022-23 UCL Academic Manual)

Evidence of discussion with Senior Policy Advisor (Academic Partnerships). (For further information, refer to Chapter 8 of the 2022-23 UCL Academic Manual)

Evidence of engagement with Placements Information Pack (for placements). (For further information, refer to Chapter 8 of the 2022-23 UCL Academic Manual)

Evidence of discussion with UCL’s Study Abroad Team (Annex 7.2.9 UG Affiliate / Study Abroad Programme checklist)

 

Evidence of discussion with, and endorsement from, the UCL Apprenticeships Steering Group.
Completion of the Level 7 / Masters Apprenticeship Feasibility Form (Annex 7.2.10) 

Externality

Statement on externality to date, and proposed externality in future development

Where relevant, evidence of discussion or engagement with external bodies or PSRBs.

Sign-off

DTC; Head of Department; Faculty Dean; FTC; School Finance Director.

With recommendations as appropriate

Programme Proposal Form. (Annex 7.2.4)


2.3.2 Outline approval process

1.Once approved by the Faculty, programme proposals must be submitted to the PMAP Secretary by the Faculty Tutor. These proposals are circulated to members of the Education Committee and relevant professional services teams and are considered at the next PMAP meeting.
2.PMAP  formally considers  the programme proposal at this stage.
3.Once granted, outline programme approval status is valid for 24 months. If the final programme proposal is not approved within this 24 month period, a new programme proposal must be submitted to FPC, the DTC, the FTC and PMAP.
4.Once outline approval is considered at a PMAP meeting, programmes may be advertised on departmental websites in the following format:
 a) Programme title and intended qualification;
 b)Aniticipated start date;
 c)A brief description of the programme content and structure omitting references to particular modules or credit values;
 d)

The following disclaimer:

Please note that this programme is still subject to final approval. As such, the content and structure of the programme is subject to change and may differ from the outline given here. As soon as the programme has been approved it will be advertised in its finalised form and applications will be taken on this basis. If you’d like to be notified when this programme has been approved and applications are open, please email [relevant departmental contact].

5.Once outline approval is given, the relevant team in Academic Services will complete the initial set-up the programme in the student information system and confirm with the department, faculty and relevant professional services teams when this has been done. They will then carry out the relevant tasks in their respective areas.

2.4 Final Approval

1.Final approval is confirmed by Education Committee and requires sign off from the Head of Department; DTC Chair; Dean of Faculty; FTC Chair and PMAP. To confirm final approval, reviewers at Faculty level must satisfy themselves that the criteria required for outline approval are still met. In addition, PMAP must satisfy itself that:
 a)The programme initiator(s) have consulted widely with colleagues from cognate departments to identify possibilities for module or resource sharing and that there is evidence of any agreements made;
 b)The programme initiator(s) have responded to the feedback provided at outline approval stage and made developments or amendments where appropriate;
 c)The proposed programme of study is in line with UCL’s regulations, particularly the Qualifications and Credit Framework, the Assessment Framework for Taught Programmes and the Registration Framework for Taught Programmes;
 d)The proposed programme of study is in line with relevant external benchmarks, such as the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications;
 e)That the material programme information (as required by Consumer Protection Legislation) is clear and easy to understand;
 fThe programme initiator(s) have discussed the proposal with current or prospective students and acted on their feedback;
 g)The proposal has been reviewed by an appropriately qualified external scrutineer;
 h)Agreements are in place for any proposed external partnerships.
2.Once approved by PMAP, a programme will normally begin admitting students. As such, PMAP must assure itself that the programme will not pose a risk to standards, the student experience or UCL’s reputation.

2.4.1 Information and Documentation required

1.A ‘Response to PMAP’ document will need to be completed and submitted with the final submission to PMAP, detailing how and where in the documentation previous issues raised by the Panel have been addressed. This document is issued to the initiator(s), by the Secretary to PMAP, once outline approval has been considered by PMAP.
2.A summary of the minimum information and corresponding documentary evidence, required for final programme approval is provided below:
Summary of the minimum information and corresponding documentary evidence, required for final programme approval

Category

Information required

Corresponding documentary evidence

Named Roles

Initiator, programme director, External Scrutineer, other nominees

Programme Proposal Form (Annex 7.2.4)

Material programme information

As outlined in section 2.2.2 

Programme Diet Template (Annex 7.2.5)

Module proposal forms (for all new modules) (Annex 7.3.1)

Programme Proposal Form (Annex 7.2.4)

Description

Programme Description (c. 1,000 words)

Confirmation of enclosures and processes completed with detail of changes made following Outline Programme Approval

Programme Proposal Form (Annex 7.2.4)

‘Response to PMAP’ document

Internal Partnerships

Confirmation of approval to make use of existing modules, and other internal partnerships

A signed statement confirming that the relevant Head(s) of Department(s) agree to proposed module or staff sharing. (This will usually take the form of email correspondence)

 

External Partnerships (essential if any partnership activity envisaged)

Confirmation of APRG approval (to be granted in advance of programme approval)

Draft Memorandum of Agreement with partner. (For further information, refer to Chapter 8 of the 2022-27 UCL Academic Manual)

Externality

Statement on externality used in development

External Scrutineer’s review and response (where relevant)

Note on engagement with Subject Benchmark Statements, Qualification Characteristics

Programme Proposal Form (Annex 7.2.4)

Completed External Scrutineer’s Report (Annex 7.2.7)

Evidence of External Scrutineer’s suitability (if not external examiner) such as academic CV. (Annex 7.2.8)

PSRB report (if appropriate)

Sign-off

Department TC; Head of Department;  Faculty Dean; Faculty TC; PMAP; Education Committee

Programme Proposal Form (Annex 7.2.4)


2.4.2 Final approval process

1.Once approved, the relevant team in Academic Services will finalise the set up of the programme in the student record system and confirm with the department, faculty and relevant professional services teams when this has been done. They will then carry out the relevant tasks in their respective areas.
2.Once the programme has been set up, it will usually open for applications at the earlierst opportunity. There may be occassions where this has to be delayed, for example, to await a signed memorandum of agreement.

2.4.3 Probationary review following Final approval

1.New taught  programmes will be reviewed after the first two years that the programme runs. If the programme is not on course to meet targets after two admission cycles, the programme team should consider action that might need to be taken in respect of programme design or marketing. After three admission cycles, Planning will review the programme against the business case to ensure that it is viable as demonstrated in the business case. Probationary Review can be found in Annex 7.2.11.