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BSc_Hons_ Multimedia Development


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                                Validation Report

1.   Event Details

     Name of                             BSc (Hons) Multimedia Development

     Date of event                       31 May 2007

     Proposed date of                    September 2007
     course(s)/programme(s) start

     Name of University event            Professor Robert Newton

     Name of University internal Panel   Dr Alan Wise

     Name of external Panel              Mr Derrick Duncan
                                         Dr Patrick Walder

     Name of external Panel              Not applicable
     member(s) attending for a
     Professional, Statutory or
     Regulatory Body

     Name of administrative support      Dr Clare Parks
     staff from Academic Affairs

     Name of observers attending the     None

2.   Scope of Event

                                                             Yes      No
     New course(s)/programme(s)                               

     Major change to existing course(s)/programme(s)                  

     Other (specify)                                                  
3.   Confirmation of Meetings Held

                                                               Yes    No    N/A
     Senior management staff with responsibility for            
     resources for the course(s)/programme(s) (Dean
     and Acting Head of School)

     Course/Programme Development Team                          

     Placements providers and educators                                

     Current students                                                         

     Others (Please specify)                                           

4.   Confirmation of Facilities/Resources and Materials Inspected

                                                                      Yes    No

     Library1                                                                 

     Computing and Information Technology facilities                   

     Specialist teaching accommodation                                 

     Virtual Campus                                                           

     Other (Please specify)                                                   

      The Library had re-located to temporary accommodation in St Andrew Street, prior
     to re-location to the new facility being developed within the St Andrew Street

5.   Summary of Areas Discussed in Meetings

     The Panel covered a number of areas in discussions, guided by the University
     Documentation Evaluation Form, as detailed below. Reference to section 6 of the
     report identifies areas where the Panel believed there was scope for further
     development (recommendations) and aspects that were particularly noteworthy
     (commendations). Section 6 also details the areas that the Panel required to be
     addressed before course delivery could commence (conditions).

     Rationale and Demand
      The background to the development of the course, its relationship to other
       courses in the Undergraduate Computing Programme and the School’s desire for
       the course to provide: an appropriate entry point at Stage 3 for applicants who
       possess an HND Multimedia qualification (contributing to the University’s Degree
       link ambitions), and a flexible framework for internal transfers from students
       undertaking other courses in the Undergraduate Computing Programme.
      The likelihood of achieving the projected intake of 10 students and future plans
       for marketing to help grow the course intake.
 Likely future demand from HE students working towards HND Multimedia
  qualifications (predominantly from Aberdeen College and Banff and Buchan
  College but possibly also from Moray College and Angus College).
 Shift in market trends from more hardcore technical computing qualifications to
  more applied computing qualifications, such as multimedia.
 The local market and potential threats from competitors (Aberdeen University).
 The possibility of opening up markets further into mainland Europe, for example
  France and Poland.
 The proportion of students staying to complete Honours; the Course Team
  indicated that the majority of students would stay for two years to complete
  their Honours Degree.
 The use of a telephone survey of multimedia and graphics employers to
  determine the technical and transferable skills mix, which employers would be
  seeking in a multimedia graduate.
 The possibility of developing a part time route for the course, which might
  appeal to prospective students.

Admission and Intake
 Whilst it would be possible for students to transfer from the Multimedia
  Development course to the Information Systems Technology (IST) course, the
  Course Team believed that this would be unlikely unless the students were
  looking to change careers. The IST course was really focused on databases and
  information generally and aimed at producing graduates who were likely to
  manage information service departments in organisations.

Course/Programme Aims and Outcomes
 Use of the term “information systems”, particularly in the aims specified in
  section 4 of the Detailed Course Descriptor (DCD) and whether this was
  appropriate in terms of best representing the subject area.

Structure and Content
 The distinctiveness of the course compared to other courses in the School of
  Computing’s Undergraduate Computing Programme.
 Erroneous reference to module CM2013 Professional Development in Computing
  in sections 7 and 10 of the DCD; this was not a module that contributed to the
  BSc (Hons) Multimedia Development course [refer condition 6.2(iv)].
 Plans to develop existing links with Gray’s School of Art to enhance the art and
  design content of the course by offering electives in this area and further
  developing computing staff expertise in graphics and multimedia [refer
  commendation 6.4(ii)].
 The multimedia content of the course and the lack of content on audio and video
  production [refer condition 6.2(ii)].
 The range and appropriateness of elective modules offered on the course [refer
  condition 6.2(i) and recommendation 6.3(i)].
 Module titles and the use of these to attract students [refer recommendation
 The Course Team confirmed that the placement was an optional extra, which did
  not form part of the credit for the BSc (Hons) Multimedia Development course
  but would appear on the student’s transcript, if successfully completed. This
  approach to placement was the same across all the School’s undergraduate
  courses except for the BSc (Hons) Computer Science, which did operate a formal
  placement sandwich year. Difficulties in ensuring the equality of student
  experience for the short 15 credit placement module had dissuaded the Course
  Team from making the placement a formal part of the award.
 The mix of credit levels for 2+2 courses and the need to comply with the
  University’s Regulations on credit virement. The Course Team confirmed that
       CM2004 Design Principles and Context was a Semester 2 rather than a Semester
       1 elective and required re-badging as an SCQF level 9 module [refer condition
      Accuracy of pre-requisite information presented in the Module Descriptors [refer
       condition 6.2(iii)].
      The appropriateness of content of CM4044 Interactive 3D Graphics to the course
       [refer recommendation 6.3(v)].
      The use of professional development awards for software packages (such as
       Adobe, Flash and Photoshop). The School had made the decision to drop these
       from course curricula two years ago as they were driving the School in a
       direction in which it did not want to go.

      The relationship between delivery of CM3032 Project Management in a
       Computing Environment and CM3056 Interactive Multimedia and the clever use
       of integrated assessment to gauge student performance.
      The appropriateness of examination as a method of assessment for CM4017
       Advanced Multimedia Development [refer recommendation 6.3(iv)].

     Support for the Course
      Resources to support the course were considered to be very satisfactory.
      Shift of staff skills away from hard core technological computing subjects to
       more applied disciplines [refer recommendation 6.3(iii)].
      Student access to course material outside of the University through the Virtual
       Campus (to be run on Moodle from Session 2007/08).

     Organisation and Management
      The mechanism for allocation of projects under CM4004 Information Systems

      The possibility of future British Computer Society (BCS) accreditation was
       discussed but this would place certain restrictions on course content and would
       limit freedom in terms of delivering multimedia elements.

6.   Event Outcomes

6.1 Conclusions

     The Panel wished to recommend approval of the BSc (Hons) Multimedia
     Development subject to normal University quality assurance arrangements.

     Approval was subject to four conditions, all of which were to be met by Friday 6
     July 2007. The response to conditions one and two to be reviewed by the external
     members of the Panel. The response to conditions three and four to be reviewed by
     the Convener of the Panel.

6.2 Conditions

     (i)   Provide a list of electives, which can be offered on the proposed
           course, clearly indicating their SCQF level, and the stage at which they
           are offered and a brief rationale for the inclusion of each elective
The Panel questioned whether it would be possible to increase the scope of elective
choices by offering modules from other areas such as The Aberdeen Business
School and Gray’s School of Art. The Team indicated that with regard to the latter,
module sharing was difficult because of resource constraints within Gray’s and also
because the School operated quite a different modular approach to the rest of the
University (the School operated very large project based modules, which
sometimes spanned the entire academic session – this is why the School of
Computing developed its own modules, which were serviced by Gray’s School of

The Panel found some of the elective choices rather odd, for example, EN4800
Science of Management, and asked the Course Team to comment on the selection
of electives. The Team stated that it had found selecting electives challenging.
There were more elective modules that the Team wanted to make available, than
could be supported/fitted in to the University’s module and timetabling structures.
The Team stated that the electives currently specified in the DCD would not
necessarily be those that actually ran when the course was delivered, in particular
CM4001 Applications of Data Mining, CM4907 Applied Cryptography and Secure
Systems, CM4010 Mobile Computing were unlikely to be offered. With respect to
EN4800 specifically, the Course Team highlighted that this module had run
successfully for some time; for some students the module provided an opportunity
to explore management and business areas as these may be relevant to their
future careers. The Course Team stated that the elective modules simply provided
a flavour of what could be offered to students and that further elective options
would be developed over a longer period.

Whilst accepting that there were factors that constrained the actual delivery of
electives (for example viable student numbers), the Panel was concerned that the
documentation did not accurately detail the electives that were going to be
available. This was an issue because it was important that students did not receive
misleading information about the course and what it offered.

(ii) Provide a core module, which is primarily focused around video/audio

There was considerable discussion around the multimedia content of the course,
particularly student expectations and the efforts of the Course Team to provide a
course, which provided a balance between students learning technical skills and
nurturing creative talents in students. Specifically, the Panel was concerned that
there was a lack of content around audio and video production techniques. The
Course Team identified modules where there was an element of content relating to
audio and visual input:

 CM2012 2D Animation (core module) – students would work on group projects
  and be able to work with media such as sound;
 CM3012 Component Based Software Development (core module) – the Course
  Team intended to integrate audio manipulation into this module;
 CM3056 Interactive Multimedia (core module) – students would have the
  opportunity to create and edit sound and video;
 CM3009 Perception and Visualisation (core module) – this provided the
  opportunity for students to display and control media types, although the Panel
  perceived this as being predominantly visual;
    CM4016 Developing Enterprise Systems (core module) – students would be
     involved in developing a fully functioning web site, for example for a pop group,
     and this would involve the use of audio and video manipulation;
    CM4004 Information Systems Project (core module) – through this major piece
     of work at Stage 4, students would be able to create their own audio and video.
     Students would have access to a digital video camera, Apple Mac PCs and Adobe
     Premiere software.

   Students also got together in groups to make video podcasts and although these
   were not a formally assessed element of the course, they did provide another
   vehicle for students to participate in audio and video manipulation.

   Despite this further elucidation of creative content, the Panel was not reassured on
   this matter. The Panel was concerned that covering audio and video production
   over a number of modules, and in different ways, would not give students the best
   learning experience. The Panel’s view was that as this was such an important
   aspect of the course, it should be delivered through a core module that was largely
   focused on audio and video production.

   (iii) Revise Module Descriptors to accurately reflect pre-requisites for

   The pre-requisites section of the Module Descriptors were not accurate. For
   example, CM4000 Data Visualisation and Analysis listed CM3063 Interactive 2D
   Graphics and CM2006 Interface Design as pre-requisites but CM3063 was not a
   module offered on the course. The use of “or equivalent” in such cases would
   overcome the problem but the Course Team was advised to review all Module
   Descriptors to ensure accuracy.

   (iv) Remove all references to the CM2013 Professional Development in
        Computing module from the Detailed Course Descriptor (Sections 7
        and 10).

   CM2013 Professional Development in Computing was not a module that contributed
   to the BSc (Hons) Multimedia Development course and reference to this was

6.3 Recommendations

   (i) Reconsider the policy of offering an elective in each semester, in the
       context of this 2+2 course arrangement.

   The Panel questioned the Team about the mechanism and timing of students’
   elective selections. The Panel was informed that students chose their Stage 4
   Semester 1 electives in April during Stage 3. For Stage 4 Semester 2 modules,
   students made their choice in November, during Semester 1. Students were
   permitted to change electives provided this was within two weeks of the elective
   starting. Students were given as much information as possible so they were making
   a properly informed choice and knew what they were signing up to. Students would
   not be able to undertake electives where they did not have the pre-requisite
For students coming directly in to Stage 3, the Course Team explained that they
made the elective choice for the student, based on the student’s background and
experience. The Team confirmed that this approach was used by the School for
other degree link courses and it worked well. The Panel questioned whether use of
electives at Stage 3 was appropriate since students did not really have a free
choice regarding elective modules and suggested that this should be re-considered
by the Course Team.

(ii) Consider the appropriateness of module titles with a view to ensuring
     they better reflect content, particularly module CM4004 Information
     Systems Project.

During discussions with the Course Team it was evident that several modules were
shared with other courses within the School’s Undergraduate Computing
Programme. Whilst there were obvious advantages to module sharing across
courses, one disadvantage highlighted by the Panel was that a module title chosen
for one course may be less appealing/attractive to students on another course; this
was an important marketing consideration. The Course Team confirmed that
module CM4004 Information Systems Project was essentially the same as the
CM4018 Honours Individual Project, undertaken by other undergraduate computing
students (all students had to produce a project report, a project deliverable, e.g. a
database, and also make a presentation). As the module formed part of the BSc
(Hons) Computer Science course, which was accredited by the British Computer
Society (BCS), the module had to conform to certain BCS requirements. These
requirements were too constraining for the Multimedia Development course, hence
the need for a different title. The Panel appreciated these challenges and
constraints but believed it to be worthwhile reviewing module titles so they were
attractive to different student groups.

(iii) Consider a more formal staff development plan to supplement the
      work shadowing to prepare staff for delivery of the applied multimedia
      development subjects.

In discussions with the Course Team, it was apparent that staff in the School had
been undertaking work shadowing to help move the staff skills set away from the
more hard core technological computing subjects towards the more applied
disciplines. The Panel wished to encourage the Course Team to persist with these
endeavours but to seek to prepare staff in a more formalised manner ready for
delivery of the new Multimedia Development course.

(iv) Review the appropriateness of an examination as a method of
     assessment for module CM4017 Advanced Multimedia Development.

In reviewing the content and learning outcomes for module CM4017 Advanced
Multimedia Development, the Panel was of the view that the examination was not
necessarily an appropriate assessment for what the module was trying to achieve.

(v) Consider substituting CM4044 Interactive 3D Graphics with an elective
    module, which is less mathematically focused and more closely
    aligned to the skills and background of students being admitted to the
    After scrutinising the Module Descriptor and discussing module content and student
    activity with the Course Team, the Panel was not convinced that this module was
    appropriate for the target audience. The Panel did not believe that “interactivity”
    (from the module title) was evidenced in the module and viewed it as being
    predominantly mathematically focused.

6.4 Commendations

    (i)   The enthusiasm of the core Course Development Team and willingness
          to engage in constructive dialogue with the Panel.

    The above was clearly evidenced in formal discussions with the Panel during the
    validation event.

     (ii) Proposed enhancements to the linkages with Gray’s School of Art to
          provide productive synergies in relation to developing the Multimedia
          Development course.

    The School of Computing already had links with Gray’s School of Art and it saw the
    multimedia course development as a route to further develop these links. For
    example, the Schools had worked together in trying to gauge the market for
    multimedia qualifications. In addition, it was anticipated that as the course matured
    there would be an increasing art and design element, provided through electives.
    Currently there were some computing elective modules offered, which had service
    teaching input from Gray’s School of Art (e.g. CM2004 Design Principles and
    Context) and computing staff were quite heavily involved in teaching Gray's
    students. The School understood, and was sensitive to, the different style of
    pedagogy and assessment required for art and design students. The Course Team
    was looking to develop a module that would simulate a multidisciplinary team
    approach, which would involve multimedia students working alongside art and
    design students. The Team looked forward to this, anticipating that Gray’s students
    would stimulate the creative flair of multimedia students, which would lead to some
    innovative and exciting student work. Computing staff saw the opportunity not only
    to provide hard technical skills but also to provide input on more transferable skills
    areas such as layout and presentation of information. Computing staff also saw the
    links with Gray’s as a means to enhance computing staff expertise in graphics and
    multimedia. The Panel was impressed with the Course Team’s enthusiasm and
    plans to further develop these rich links with Gray’s School of Art.

August 2007

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