Approval of Validated Courses by qzfiLPA

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									Approval of Validated Courses and Changes to Validated Courses
This document provides guidance on the approval of validated courses for Schools, Committees
and Partners., It is expected to be used where a higher than normal level of scrutiny is required
such as:
              courses that have a component of work-based learning;
              courses where the curriculum, styles of teaching, delivery of teaching and
               assessment are not determined by Heriot-Watt but by the partner.


Introduction
The University has a number of partners that deliver validated programmes or courses. Validated
courses are courses where the curriculum, styles of teaching, delivery of teaching and assessment
are not determined by Heriot-Watt but by the partner. For these courses there are several points of
interaction with the University that relate to quality assurance.

        Approval of the course and approval of changes to the course

        Approval of, and approval of changes to the Operational Guide.

        Approval of the contract and the Operational Guide.

        Approval and re-approval of staff teaching on the course

        Annual monitoring through an Annual Validation Review involving staff of the partner and
         the University.

        Internal Audit on a three year cycle which re-approves the arrangements and permits
         ongoing delivery of the course

As part of the approval process the course of study and the academic aspects of the Operational
Guide have to be approved by the Postgraduate or Undergraduate Studies Committee on behalf of
Senate. This document provides guidance for Schools, Partners and the Studies Committees on
the approval process for validated courses, modules and academic operational matters, as well as
the approval of changes.


Responsibility and risk
The official documents recording the details for all courses that are designed and delivered by the
University, assume the reader has a working knowledge of the University. The constant
discussions between staff within the University means that academic staff who have worked in the
University for a few years will have detailed knowledge of styles of delivery, student ability,
approaches to learning, teaching and assessment. Both academic and support staff will also have
a detailed understanding of normal operational procedures relating to course organisation and
management including such activities as the role of the course committee, exam board, University
committees, staff student liaison committees and the roles of course leaders and other senior
academic staff who moderate and manage a course. This knowledge is supported by an Academic
Infrastructure comprising Regulations, Codes of Practice, Guidelines and Policies.

For modules that are to be part of normal courses an established academic member of staff may
state that the module is level 2 and there will be a shared understanding of the implications of that
statement and the type of evidence that will have been considered when reaching that judgement
without the need for detailed written evidence.

As a result, in Heriot-Watt, as with many old Universities but unlike many post 1992 universities,
there is considerable devolution of authority to individuals to deliver modules to an appropriate
standard and quality. HWU module descriptors are often only a page long and although they

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provide sufficient information for other staff in the same discipline in the same University they do
not always provide sufficient information for other academic staff in the university to verify that
judgement except when there is a very considerable difference between what is written and what is
expected. Cases where the written record is inconsistent with what is delivered are invariably a
result of poor writing rather than inappropriate intentions. An example is where as a module in a
postgraduate course is described as “Introduction to”.

For this reason, the approval of a module is devolved to a School. Schools are aware of this
internal culture and for this reason new staff or staff from other institutions (and particularly those
from overseas) will develop new modules under supervision until they have acquired a detailed
understanding of University norms.

However, if a module is designed, taught and assessed by staff in another institution then this
assumption of a shared understanding cannot be made. The University can only then be assured
that modules are of an appropriate standard and quality from scrutiny of written evidence provided
by the partner where the implicit information is made explicit. This explicit information can then be
scrutinised by appropriate academic staff to determine whether or not the course meets the normal
criteria used by the University.

Therefore, in order to approve modules and courses for validated activities, Heriot-Watt has to be
explicit about the criteria that are used for making the judgements recognising that many of the key
issues are implicit in the normal approval process. It also requires the University to be explicit
about the information that is to be provided in order to make the judgement. Finally, there has to be
a record of the approval process.

The consequence is that approval of a validated course is more detailed than a normal course.

Operational Guide
When courses are to be delivered on a HWU campus then the academic processes are already in
place and do not need to be described. When the course is validated the operational matters need
to be described and be approved at the same time as the course of study.

The Operational Guide should be a self contained document and include information on the
following:

        Admission criteria
        Enrolment, induction and registration
        Assessment strategy
        Pass and progression criteria
        Grading or marking criteria
        Assessment regulations
        Examination regulations
        Exam board processes
        Academic impropriatory, including plagiarism
        Appeals process
        Complaints process
        Quality assurance overview

Documentation to be provided by the Partner for the approval of a course
For the approval of a course of study the partner should provide the following
    An overview of the course, its intended market, the course objectives, the mode of learning
       and tuition, the style of assessment, the types of skill that students will acquire etc. This will
       typically be 5 pages long depending on the course.
    Entry qualifications of students and any particular exemptions that will be given for prior
       learning.
    A detailed description of each module with the curriculum, learning activities, description of
       teaching and learning styles, estimated number of contact hours for students, nature and

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         form of assessment, reading lists etc sufficient for an independent person to judge the
         number of hours of effort required to successfully complete the module and the SCQF level.
         The Module descriptor should include the Partners judgement of the SCQF level of each
         module and the credit value. This will typically be 2 – 3 pages for each module.
        An Operational Guide outlining how the course will be managed.

Module approval
A module here is taken to be the smallest self contained teaching unit. Most courses will comprise
a number of discrete modules.

When a student satisfactorily studies a module then the student will have demonstrated an amount
of learning at a particular SCQF level reported as so many credits at a specified level.

The number of credits is the number of hours a normal student will take to learn the subject divided
by 10 (10 hours equals 1 credit). This judgement can only be made by a subject specialist and
requires that the description of the module is sufficiently detailed to include all the various activities
that a student will undertake including lectures, tutorials, self study, practical exercises, reading,
group work etc. The level of detail required will be subject specific but will be far larger than is
provided in the standard HWU module descriptor and will typically be 2-3 pages of text.

The SCQF level of a module requires a description of the learning outcomes and needs to be
related back to the SCQF level descriptors (See Appendix 1 taken from the QAA website). The
learning outcomes also need to be related to assessment as it is important that the assessment
accurately determines whether or not the learning outcomes have been met.

The person responsible for reviewing a module will also have access to circumstantial evidence
provided in the course overview documents about the level including the expected entry
qualifications of the students that will study the module and the relationship between the module
being reviewed and other modules.

When reviewing a validated course a School should identify two experienced academics with
subject expertise to review each module to judge the academic level and credit volume. If there are
no subject specialists then an external specialist should work with an internal non-specialist to form
the judgement.

At the end of the module review there should be a signed statement stating the level and volume
recorded by the Course Summary Form (See Appendix 2).


Course Approval
After the individual Modules have been approved there needs to be a review of the course as a
whole. The course review should be a team of experienced academic staff (probably the same
staff who reviewed the individual modules) normally chaired by the Director of L&T in the School.

The purpose of the course review is
    To confirm that the module level review has been undertaken appropriately and to confirm
      the judgements of the module reviewers. Where the Module reviewers are unable to form a
      judgement then the course review panel should either make the judgement or else
      undertake activities that will allow the judgement to be made.
    To ensure that the individual modules together provide a coherent course of study which
      has sufficient credit at each level for the intended awards (See Appendix 1).
    To ensure that the course as a whole satisfies the expectations of the QAA benchmark
      statements and hence that the title of the award is an accurate descriptor of the course.
    To ensure that the transferable skills provide a coherent set of skills appropriate for the
      award.
    To review the teaching methods and administrative procedures to ensure that the course is
      likely to provide a proper learning experience with the necessary support.

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In addition to the information on each module, the review team should be provided with an
overview of the course, the intended approach to teaching, learning, assessment and student
support and details of the organisational management and rules and regulations relating to the
course. This may be a substantial document. (For example in the case of Study Group it was over
30 pages long).

At the end of the review the review team should formally record whether or not it approves the
course on the Course Summary Form. Where appropriate there should be a summary of the
discussion points to inform the discussions at the Studies Committee.


Operational Guide Approval
The course review team should also review the Operational Guide and formally record whether or
not it approves the document.


Studies Committee
The role of the Studies Committee is to approve on behalf of Senate the course(s) as validated
course(s) of the University and the Operational Guide. The judgements are the normal judgements
of the Committee but informed by the more detailed information provided by the Partner and the
evidence of detailed scrutiny by the School.

As in all judgements the Committee has the right to see any evidence and to question any prior
judgements. The purpose in providing detailed guidance to the School is not to replace the
judgement of the committee but rather to ensure that the information provided is relevant and
complete.



R. Craik
Aug 2008

Approved by Quality Enhancement and Standards Committee, 17 Dec 08




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Appendix 1
Extract from the Quality Assurance Framework available at:
http://www.qaa.ac.uk/academicinfrastructure/FHEQ/SCQF/2001/frameworkAnnex.asp

Qualification descriptors
The breadth and detail of the outcomes offered by any one qualification will reflect the particular purpose and
focus of the programme and will be set out in the programme specification. Reflecting the traditional breadth
of Scottish higher education, many programmes offer breadth through coverage of several subject areas.
Other programmes will focus on one or perhaps two subjects or professional areas. Clearly, in the former
case the range of knowledge in respect of any one subject will be less than where one or two subjects are
being pursued more exclusively. The qualification descriptors attempt to span this diversity. The qualification
descriptors for postgraduate qualifications are the same across the UK.

The Certificate of Higher Education
SHE level            1 ( SCQF level 7)
Credit definition    At least 120 credits of which a minimum of 90 are at SHE level 1 or higher

General
The Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) is available in a number of Scottish higher education
institutions typically as an exit award after the equivalent of one year of full-time study.
Some CertHEs are awarded for achievement over a breadth of subject areas while others focus on one
subject, in some cases with a strong vocational focus. The precise focus and outcomes will be identified in
the relevant programme specifications.

Characteristic outcomes of Certificates of Higher Education
   i.  An outline knowledge of the scope and main areas of the subject(s) and its links with related
       subjects and a more extensive knowledge of some of the key areas.
  ii.  An understanding of the major theories, principles and concepts.
 iii.  Familiarity with some of the routine materials, techniques and practices of the subject.
 iv.   Skills for the gathering, basic analysis, and presentation of routine information, ideas, concepts and
       quantitative and qualitative data within a clearly defined context. This will include the use of
       information and communications technology (ICT) as appropriate to the subject.

Typically, holders of the Certificate of Higher Education will be able to:
   a. use their knowledge of the subject and its techniques in a routine manner to evaluate and formulate
        a range of arguments and solutions to problems and issues of a routine nature;
   b. communicate the results of their study and other work accurately and reliably and within structured
        and coherent arguments;
   c. undertake further learning within a structured and managed environment;
   d. apply their subject-related and transferable skills in contexts where individuals may have some
        limited personal responsibility, but the criteria for decisions and the scope of the task are well
        defined.


The Diploma of Higher Education
SHE level          2 (SCQF level 8)
Credit definition  At least 240 credits of which a minimum of 90 are at SHE level 2 or higher

General
The Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) is typically offered after the equivalent of the first two years of full-
time higher education in Scotland.
Some DipHEs are awarded for achievement over a breadth of subject areas while others focus on one
subject, in some cases with a strong vocational focus. The precise focus and outcomes will be identified in
the relevant programme specifications.

Characteristic outcomes of the Diploma of Higher Education
   i.  A knowledge and understanding of the scope and main areas of the subject(s) and its interactions
       with related subjects. Detailed knowledge of some key areas which may include some knowledge of
       current issues in limited specialised areas.
  ii.  Familiarity and understanding of a range of the essential theories, principles and concepts and an
       awareness of major issues at the forefront of the subject(s).


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  iii.   Familiarity and effective deployment of essential/routine materials, techniques and practices of the
         subject(s).
  iv.    Skills for the gathering, critical analysis and presentation of information, ideas, concepts and/or
         quantitative and qualitative data that is core to the subject(s). This will include the use of ICT as
         appropriate to the subject(s).

Typically, holders of the Diploma of Higher Education will be able to:
   a. use their knowledge, understanding and skills to critically evaluate and formulate evidence-based
        arguments and identify solutions to clearly defined problems of a generally routine nature;
   b. communicate the results of their study and other work accurately and reliably using a range of
        specialist techniques;
   c. identify and address their own major learning needs within defined contexts and to undertake guided
        further learning in new areas;
   d. apply their subject-related and transferable skills in contexts where the scope of the task and the
        criteria for decisions are generally well defined but where some personal responsibility and initiative
        is required.


The Scottish Bachelors degree
SHE level            3 (SCQF 9)
Credit definition    At least 360 credits of which a minimum of 60 are at SHE level 3

General
The Scottish Bachelors (non-Honours) degree is typically achieved after the equivalent of three years of full-
time higher education. In the main, and depending on the subjects or professional area(s) studied, it is
awarded either a Bachelor of Science (BSc), or a Bachelor of Arts (BA). Although all degrees will exhibit a
balance of breadth and depth, some degrees will be highly focused while others will develop greater breadth
of outcomes. The particular characteristics of each degree will be articulated in the programme specification.
Many degrees which have a specific vocational focus carry recognition by the appropriate professional or
statutory body. In a small number of universities, in some faculties, this qualification is titled 'MA' (see
footnote to Annex 2). The Scottish Bachelors degree is a recognised 'normal' entry requirement to a number
of professions across the UK.

Characteristic outcomes of the degree
   i.  A broad and comparative knowledge of the general scope of the subject, its different areas and
       applications, and its interactions with related subjects. A detailed knowledge of a defined subject or a
       more limited coverage of a specialist area balanced by a wider range of study. In each case,
       specialised study will be informed by current developments in the subject.
  ii.  A critical understanding of the essential theories, principles and concepts of the subject(s) and of the
       ways in which these are developed through the main methods of enquiry in the subject. An
       awareness of the provisional nature of knowledge.
 iii.  Familiarity and competence in the use of routine materials, practices and skills and of a few that are
       more specialised, advanced and complex.
 iv.   Well developed skills for the gathering, evaluation, analysis and presentation of information, ideas,
       concepts and quantitative and/or qualitative data, drawing on a wide range of current sources. This
       will include the use of ICT as appropriate to the subject(s).

Typically, holders of the degree will be able to:
   a. use their knowledge, understanding and skills, in both identifying and analysing problems and issues
        and in formulating, evaluating and applying evidence-based solutions and arguments;
   b. communicate the results of their studies and other work accurately and reliably in a range of different
        contexts using the main specialist concepts, constructs and techniques of the subject(s);
   c. identify and address their own learning needs including being able to draw on a range of current
        research, development and professional materials;
   d. apply their subject and transferable skills to contexts where criteria for decisions and the scope of
        the task may be well defined but where personal responsibility, initiative and decision-making is also
        required.




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The Scottish Bachelors degree with Honours
SHE level      H (SCQF 10)
Credit         At least 480 credits of which a minimum of 180 are at SHE levels 3 and H including a
definition     minimum of 90 at SHE level H

General
The Scottish Bachelors degree with Honours is typically offered through the equivalent of four years of full-
time higher education. It is awarded mainly as either a Bachelor of Science (BSc Hons), or a Bachelor of Arts
(BA Hons). All Honours degrees will exhibit a balance of breadth and depth as will be clear from particular
programme specifications. Many Honours degrees will have a specific vocational focus, and in some cases
will carry recognition by the appropriate professional or statutory body. In a small number of universities, in
some faculties, this qualification is titled 'MA (Hons)' (see footnote to Annex 2). The Honours degree is the
recognised 'normal' entry requirement to postgraduate study and to many professions across the UK.

Characteristic outcomes of the degree with Honours
   i.  A systematic, extensive and comparative knowledge and understanding of the subject(s) as a whole
       and its links to related subject(s). A detailed knowledge of a few specialisms and developments,
       some of which are at, or informed by, the forefront of the subject.
  ii.  A critical understanding of the established theories, principles and concepts, and of a number of
       advanced and emerging issues at the forefront of the subject(s).
 iii.  A critical understanding of the uncertainty and limits of knowledge and how it is developed and an
       ability to deploy established techniques of analysis and enquiry within the subject.
 iv.   A comprehensive knowledge and familiarity with essential and advanced materials, techniques and
       skills including some at the forefront of the subject.
  v.   Skills in identifying information needs, and in the systematic gathering, analysis and interpretation of
       ideas, concepts and qualitative and quantitative data and information from a range of evaluated
       sources including current research, scholarly, and/or professional literature.

Typically, holders of the degree with Honours will be able to:
   a. a use their knowledge, understanding and skills in the systematic and critical assessment of a wide
        range of concepts, ideas, and data (that may be incomplete), and in both identifying and analysing
        complex problems and issues; demonstrating some originality and creativity in formulating,
        evaluating and applying
        evidence-based solutions and arguments;
   b. b communicate the results of their study and other work accurately and reliably using the full
        repertoire of the principal concepts and constructs of the subject(s);
   c. c systematically identify and address their own learning needs both in current and in new areas,
        making use of research, development and professional materials as appropriate, including those
        related to the forefront of developments;
   d. d apply their subject-related and transferable skills in contexts of a professional or equivalent nature
        where there is a requirement for:
             o the exercise of personal responsibility and initiative;
             o decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts;
             o the ability to undertake further developments of a professional or
                 equivalent nature.


Masters degrees
SHE level   M (SCQF level 11)
Credit      At least 180 credits of which a minimum of 150 are at SHE level M. For integrated Masters, at
definition  least 600 credits of which a minimum of 120 are at SHE level M. (Credit definitions do not
            normally apply to the MPhil - see Table 2.)

General
The Masters degree is available through several different routes: as a programme for graduates or
equivalent, through at least one year of full-time postgraduate study or an equivalent period of part-time
study; as a programme of typically the equivalent of five years' full-time study that integrates a period of
undergraduate study with the Masters degree.
The first of these typically leads to award of Master of Science or Master of Arts, depending on the subject
taken, but other titles are also used. Integrated programmes, frequently offered over the equivalent of five
years' full-time study, typically lead to a subject-specific qualification title (eg MEng) and are often linked to
professional/statutory body recognition.

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In the majority of cases, the Masters degree reflects a specialised knowledge and understanding of particular
areas, applications or levels of expertise in particular subject or professional areas. In some professional
areas, Masters degrees are linked to structures of continuing professional development.
Characteristic outcomes of Masters degrees
    i.  A systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new
        insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study,
        or area of professional practice.
   ii.  A comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced
        scholarship.
  iii.  Originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how
        established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the
        discipline.
  iv.   Conceptual understanding that enables the student:
           o     to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the
                 discipline; and
           o     to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose
                 new hypotheses.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:
   a. deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence
        of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist
        audiences;
   b. demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in
        planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;
   c. continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and develop new skills to a high level;
        and will have:
   d. the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
            o the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;
            o decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations; and
            o the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.


Qualification nomenclature
Public understanding of the achievements represented by higher education qualifications requires a
consistent use of qualification titles. The following guidelines are designed to assist institutions in achieving
consistency in the ways in which qualification titles convey information about the level, nature and subjects of
study.

Level
 The titles 'Honours', 'Master' and 'Doctor' should be used only for qualifications that meet the expectations
  of the qualification descriptors and credit definitions at SHE levels H, M, and D respectively.*
 Titles with the stem 'Postgraduate' (eg Postgraduate Diploma) should be restricted to qualifications which
  meet the expectations of the framework, and in particular relevant parts of the descriptors for qualifications
  at SHE level M or above.
 Titles with the stem 'Graduate' (eg Graduate Diploma) may be used for qualifications from programmes of
  study that typically require graduate entry or its equivalent, and which meet the expectations of the
  framework, and in particular relevant parts of the descriptors for qualifications at SHE level 3 or H.
Nature
 The title 'degree' should be used only for qualifications that meet the expectations of the qualification
  descriptor and credit definitions at SHE levels 3, H, M or D.
 When used with the stems 'Graduate' or 'Postgraduate', the title 'Certificate' should normally signify at
  least 60 credits and the title 'Diploma' should normally signify at least 120 credits.
Subject
 Qualification titles that reflect the subject focus of programmes of study in two disciplines (eg a joint
  Honours award) should consider nomenclatures based on:
     o 'A and B', where there is an approximately equal balance between two components;
     o 'A with B', for a major/minor combination where the minor subject accounts for at least a quarter of
        the programme.
 Qualification titles should not normally reflect more than three subject components. Where there are more
  than three significant components, the title 'Combined Studies' would be appropriate.
 A small number of universities in Scotland (including Heriot-Watt University) have a long tradition of
  labelling certain first degrees as 'MA'.


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Appendix 2
Course Summary form

Course Title

Name of award

Partner

Course Objectives


Module title                                          Partner              HWU judgement    Signature of
                                                      judgement                             Module
                                                                                            reviewer
                                                      SCQF        Credit   SCQF    Credit
                                                      level       rating   level   rating




The Module approval section should be signed when the lead reviewer is satisfied about all
aspects of the module.




Course team judgement
Signed by chair of Course Review
Panel
Date of approval



The Course Approval section should be signed when the Course Review panel is satisfied that the
course meets the SCQF requirements (they are the same as HWU guidelines) and that the course
provides a coherent course of study justifying the proposed named award and that the operational
guidelines, describing how the academic matters relating to the course will be delivered, are
suitable. Note that the operational matters are also considered by the Deputy Principal (Learning
and Teaching) when reviewing the Institution that will deliver the course and the guide will also
include a wide range of activities (eg registration, appeals, complaints, graduation,) which are not
the formal responsibility of the School or Studies Committees.




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