PROGRAMME SPECIFICATION

From the end of February 2003 onwards, Guidance notes on completing programme specifications and two worked
 examples will be available on the Registry website: in the interim they can
               be obtained from Dee McLoughlin in the Registrar’s Division (

Programme title:                                        MA Academic Practice

Final award (BSc, MA etc):                              Certificate
(where stopping off points exist they should be         Graduate Diploma
detailed here and defined later in the document)
UCAS code:
(where applicable)
Intake cohort(s) to which this                          From January 2003 entry
programme specification is applicable:
(e.g. from 2001 intake onwards)

Awarding institution/body:                              University College London, University of London

Teaching institution:                                   University College London, University of London

Faculty:                                                Faculty of Social and Historial Sciences

Parent Department:                                      Education and Professional Development
(the department responsible for the administration of
the programme)
Web page address:                             
(if applicable)

Method of study:                                        Modular part time/flexible

Length of the programme:                                Certificate: 1 year, part-time (40 credits)
(please note any periods spent away from UCL, such      Graduate Diploma: 2-5 academic years, part time (flexible) (80
as study abroad or placements in industry)
                                                        Master’s Degree: 2-5 calendar years, part time (flexible) (120 credits)
Level on Framework for Higher
Education Qualifications (FHEQ)                         M
(see Guidance notes)
Relevant subject benchmark statement
(see Guidance notes)
Brief outline of the structure of the                   Students must take five modules to complete the masters. Modules
programme / its assessment:                             1-4 each will be assessed by a portfolio of approx 6,000 words or so.
(see guidance notes)                                    Module 5 will be assessed by means of a dissertation of 12,000 –
                                                        20,000 words in length. (Candidates for the module can also make an
                                                        oral presentation relating to the dissertation)

Board of Examiners:                                          i) Name of Board of Examiners:

                                                             MA in Academic Practice

                                                             ii) Name of External Examiner with overview of entire
                                                             programme :

                                                             Dr Melanie Walker

Professional body accreditation                              Accreditation by the ILTHE will be                        Date of next scheduled
                                                                                                                       accreditation visit:
(if applicable):                                             considered in due course


The programme is designed to support experienced staff who undertake academic roles in reviewing and
developing their academic practice, widely conceived to include learning, teaching, research, disciplinarity and
management. It is intended that those who complete the course will have developed:

1. An enhanced ability to investigate and criticially evaluate the nature of academic practices, the relationships
   between them and the ways in which they can be imporved.
2. An enhanced understanding of academic values, and of how these can be reflected in a coherent and
   consistent way in academic practice
3. An enhanced ability to make informed educational judgements and decisions
4. Strategies for effecting change in a variety of contexts


The programme provides opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding,
qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:

    If there is not currently an External with an overview of the entire programme, please leave this section blank.

                                       A: Knowledge and understanding

Knowledge and understanding of:                       Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

1. staff and student learning within                  Because its purpose is to support the continuing
   disciplines and academic                           professional development of experienced academic
   communities                                        staff, the programme is designed to have many of the
2. disciplinarity and the changing nature             characteristics of a research forum, rather than those of
   of knowledge                                       a traditional ‘taught’ masters course. Participants will be
3. the relationships between disciplinary             encouraged to take an enquiry-based approach to the
   research and teaching                              themes of the module; to collaborate in identifying
4. academic identities, commmunities,                 appropriate subjects and method for enquiry: to assist in
   practices and values                               the development of analyses and interpretations, and
5. the perspectives of different groups               critically to evaluate one another’s work-in-progress.
   with an interest in higher education               Consistent with this approach, although the module
6. higher education policy and practice               titles, outlines and proposed readings prescribe the
   at local, regional and national level              focus of enquiry, some aspects of the content for each
7. the role of academics and higher                   module will be negotiated collectively with the
   education in society                               participants at a preliminary meeting. Group meetings
8. strategies for effecting change in a               will involve many of the activities common to academic
   variety of contexts                                programmes, for example: seminar discussion of
                                                      readings; considerations of case-studies; presentations
                                                      of work-in-progress. However, there will also be scope
                                                      for negotiation of the particular forms which meetings
                                                      take and the various activities in which individuals
                                                      engage in undertaking their enquiries. Examples of
                                                      appropriate activities include: observation of teaching in
                                                      other disciplines; interviews with colleagues or students,
                                                      and shadowing colleagues. While a list of recommended
                                                      readings will be provided, as the course progresses,
                                                      participants also will be expected to contribute to this list.
                                                      Writing in a variety of forms (see below for examples)
                                                      will plan an integral part in the learning process for each
                                                      module. Guidance will be provided as to how various
                                                      forms of writing could be used in the compilation of a
                                                      portfolio for assessment.

                                                      The five modules are:
                                                      The nature of learning
                                                      Knowledge, research and the curriculum
                                                      Higher Education and academic identity
                                                      Professionalism in the academic community
                                                      Dissertation: an extended, individual enquiry

                                                      Each module will provide participants with opportunities
                                                      to develop their knowledge and understanding of most
                                                      or all of the elements 1-8 in the list above. However,
                                                      different sets of these elements will be the specific focus
                                                      of each module, depending on its theme.


                                                 B: Skills and other attributes

Intellectual (thinking) skills:                                  Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

Professional Academic Processes and
Abilities                                                        The course design is founded on the principle that the
Academic work is complex and varied. To                          tutors and participants in each cohort will negotiate
do it well, that is, to engage effectively in                    some aspects of the curriculum for each module, the
academic practice, requires the                                  activities undertaken in and between group meetings,
integration of expert knowledge and the                          and what is to be produced for assessment. The
ability to carry out the processes of                            principle of collegiality and the processes of negotiation
academic work in an accomplished                                 and collaboration, therefore, are central aspects of the
manner. The Masters degree is an                                 programme. At the outset of each module, tutors and
academic programme designed to                                   participants jointly will identify relevant issues, interests
support academic staff in reviewing and                          and concerns, establish priorities, apportion
developing their practice. It follows that                       responsibilities and plan actions. Moreover, tutors and
participants already will possess a range                        participants will be expected to engage in reflexive
of academic abilities and, in participating                      critical evaluation of these processes.
in the programme, will engage in activities
to which these are intrinsic. In articulating                    Engaging in the modules will require participants to
the aims of the programme, and the                               identify relevant sources; analyse, interpret and critically
abilities and processes it involves, we                          evaluate varied and often contending ideas in a variety
have found it helpful to refer to the skills                     of forms; frame problems, puzzles and dilemmas and
list provided as reference points in UCL                         examine alternative conceptualisations; explore
PIQs. However, we have concluded that,                           alternative practices; make judgements and decisions,
in the context of this course, it is difficult                   and communicate these processes to their peers orally
to separate skills from one another, from                        and in writing. More specifically, during the programme,
the contexts in which they are practised,                        participants will be encouraged to use a range of enquiry
and the knowledge that is inherent in their                      methods to investigate academic practice, including field
practice. *Accordingly, we have not                              investigations. Such enquiries will require sensitive and
attempted to distinguish between                                 meticulous observation, description and recording of
Intellectual, Practical and Transferable                         aspects of academic practice.
skills. Rather, we have sought to
identify the processes in which                                  These processes comprise the teaching, learning and
participants will engage, and the skills                         assessment activities for the programme. Moreover,
or abilities that are intrinsic to these                         because they are fundamental aspects of academic
processes.                                                       practice, they form a significant part of the substantive
                                                                 content. The ability to engage in these processes will not
                                                                 be ‘taught’ during the programme. However, reflexive
                                                                 critical evaluation of their conduct will be an integral part
                                                                 of programme activities. Thus the programme is
                                                                 designed to provide participants with opportunities to
                                                                 enhance their ability to engage in these processes in the
                                                                 context of academic practice and at a level appropriate
                                                                 to experienced academic staff.

                                                          **Each of the four themed modules will be assessed by
                                                          means of an enquiry portfolio consisting of, for example:
                                                          reflective journal entries: critical reviews of reading;
                                                          critical reflection on teaching events or other incidents;
                                                          interpretation of analysis of interviews with students or
                                                          colleagues, and drafts of papers intended for submissino
                                                          to academic journals. The extended professional
                                                          enquiry undertaken as the fifth, double module will be
                                                          present in the form of a dissertation, assessment of
                                                          which will include an oral examination. The different
                                                          forms of assessment will enable participants to
                                                          demonstrate their ability to engage effectively in the
                                                          processes refered to above orally and in a wide variety
                                                          of written forms.
                                          C: Skills and other attributes

Practical skills (able to):                                Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

See above *


                                                           See above**

                                          D: Skills and other attributes

Transferable skills (able to):                             Teaching/learning methods and strategies:

See above*


                                                           See above**

The following reference points were used in designing the programme:

   the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (;
   the relevant Subject Benchmark Statements (;
   the programme specifications for UCL degree programmes in relevant subjects (where applicable);
   College teaching and learning policies;
   staff research.

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the
learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if he/she takes
full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information on the learning outcomes,
content and teaching, learning and assessment methods of each course unit/module can be found in the
departmental course handbook. The accuracy of the information contained in this document is reviewed by the
College and may be checked by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.

Programme Organiser(s)                Professor Stephen Rowland


Date of production/revision:          September 2002/July 2007

Date approved by Head of    24 January 2002    Signed:

Date approved by Chair of   19 December 2001   Signed:
Departmental Teaching
Date approved by Faculty    5 February 2002    Signed by Chair:
Teaching Committee


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