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This document forms part of the Academic Procedures series available at


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Context Foundation degrees (FDs) are distinctive from other Level I qualifications by the explicit and planned integration of employer involvement, work-based learning (WBL), accessibility, flexibility, progression to further study , and partnership within a single award. Foundation Degrees are designed as a qualification that supports and underpins progression directly to employment, or to further study in HE or in professional programmes. In designing and approving Foundation degrees, framework/programme teams and evaluation panels should ensure that the distinctive characteristics of FDs as summarised in this document are addressed. Framework/programme teams should also make reference to Academic Procedures B2 – Curriculum Design and Structure and B3 – Documentation for Framework and Programme Evaluation to inform the design and presentation of Foundation Degrees. Design principles Frames of reference To establish their distinctiveness, and to ensure that they fulfil the dual aims of underpinning progression to employment or to further study, all Foundation Degrees must be aligned with:    the University’s curriculum and credit structure; the QAA’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ), key sections of which are reproduced in Academic Procedures A1 – Academic Levels and Awards; the design principles established at national level by the QAA’s Foundation Degree Qualification Benchmark (FDQB).


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Awards The University offers two Foundation Degree award titles as defined in section A of Academic Policies and Regulations:  The Foundation Degree in Arts (FdA) is used for foundation degrees with a principal emphasis in art and design, the arts and humanities, media, business studies and social sciences. The Foundation Degree in Science (FdSc) is used for programmes where studies are substantially based on science, technology, engineering or mathematics and their applications.



Academic Procedure B5

September 2009

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Model structures The University has three standard models for the structure of Foundation Degrees. The choice of model must be based on academic considerations. Whichever model is adopted, appropriate student numbers, funding and resources must also be secured through consultation, very early in the framework/programme development process. Model FD1    160 Level C credits; 120 Level I credits; Progression to a Level H programme based on 120 Level I credits.


Model FD1, whilst pedagogically desirable in many contexts, incurs additional resource costs, which may be addressed through extended funding. This must be discussed with the Director of Partnerships and Widening Access in Registry, at the earliest possible stage of framework/programme development. 2.3.3 Model FD2    2.3.4 120 Level C credits; 120 Level I credits; Progression to a Level H programme based on a separately specified bridging programme (40 Level I credits).

Model FD3    120 Level C credits; 120 Level I credits; Progression to a Level H programme based on 120 Level I credits.

Use of model FD3 is subject to two conditions.  Programmes must conform to paragraph 20 of the QAA Foundation Degree Qualification Benchmark, which states that '. . . where the foundation degree has been closely designed with a particular honours progression route, it may be possible to provide progression directly to the final year of the bachelor's degree with honours'. Bearing in mind that Foundation degrees recruit very varied cohorts of students, substantial additional support for the development of their academic skills must be provided from the beginning of their Level C programme, normally through extended induction and academic tutorials, and measures for diagnostic and formative assessment. FD3 proposals must show that they are designed for a very close progression 'fit' with their Level H top-up route. The additional academic support required for FD3 may be provided in a number of ways, but should include extended induction and elements of diagnostic / formative assessment. This additional tutorial support must be written into the Framework/Programme Specification for an FD3 programme, in the Learning and Teaching section at Level C. At the validation or review of FD3 frameworks/programmes, the documents presented to the evaluation panel should




Academic Procedure B5

September 2009

include a statement explaining how the framework/programme team will provide and resource the additional academic support in Level C.

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Distinctive characteristics Employer involvement Employers must be involved in the design of Foundation degrees. The views of employers must be taken into account in the design of the framework/programme and its constituent units, through consultations with Sector Skills Councils (SSCs), other national, regional or local bodies representing industry or professions and specific local / regional employers. Where it does not already exist, it is desirable to form an Industrial Advisory Panel to assist and advise design teams. This Panel should continue to meet throughout the life of the Foundation degree, including the developmental stage where possible, to channel support for the delivery of the programme and to give advice for its enhancement. Following the University’s normal practice, panels for the validation and review of Foundation degrees must include at least one representative of employers, or a professional body. Evaluation panels will also expect to meet with employers involved with the programme through the periodic review process. Employers should also be involved in the delivery of the framework/programme. Work-based learning opportunities and facilities will normally be arranged with employers. For full-time students these arrangements will usually be based on placements. In part-time programmes the work-based learning elements are often provided by the students’ employers. Employers should also be involved as much as possible in the delivery of all units, for instance through guest speakers, simulation exercises, attendance at presentations, design of projects, and live case-studies. Employers may also be involved in the assessment of students, but difficulties in ensuring comparability of standards must be recognised. If employers give marks for assignments, the marking criteria must be established clearly at the outset, employers must be fully briefed to prepare them for this role, and all scripts/ outputs must be independently marked by an academic member of the framework/programme team. Best practice suggests that employers might inform the assessment process but that marks should be allocated by unit tutors. Work-based learning (WBL) Work-based learning is a distinctive and essential part of all FDs. Unless programmes are delivered partly or wholly in the workplace, they must include a WBL element, often but not necessarily at Level C, and normally with a tariff of 20 credits. Often this would be a separate WBL unit but work-based learning can also be incorporated in other units as long as this is reflected in the intended learning outcomes. WBL must have appropriate intended learning outcomes (ILOs) which ensure that this mode of learning is not to be confused with generalised work experience. Students’ learning in WBL units must be integrated into the rest of the programme as far as possible, for instance through student presentations, projects, case-studies and assignments. WBL units may be based on:    placements; students’ workplace experience, where part-time students are working in a relevant field during their programme of study; creation of a realistic workplace environment at the institution, or in another place (e.g. where the normal workplace is a studio).
Academic Procedure B5 September 2009






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Arrangements for the delivery and quality assurance of the assessment of WBL units must be clearly specified. The assessment strategy and methods must be clearly thought through and recorded in the unit specification. If employers are to be involved in assessment, appropriate briefing and moderation must be provided. Resource implications must be calculated and provided for. A WBL handbook for students, and a briefing manual for employers, should normally be provided. It is strongly recommended that the framework/programme team prepare and submit a WBL handbook to the evaluation panel to demonstrate how the work-based learning element will work. Progression to further study at Honours level All of the University’s Foundation degrees are designed in such a way as to underpin progression to Level H through a formal progression route which must be confirmed at validation and recorded in the Framework/Programme Specification. This integrated approach to curriculum design may include the development of a new or existing Level H programme, in which case reference should also be made to appropriate Subject Benchmark Statements. Whenever progression to a Bournemouth University programme is being considered, the Framework/Programme Specification and Unit Specifications for both programmes should be provided to allow the panel to map the intended learning outcomes and curricula and ensure seamless progression. Where a progression route is proposed to an award of another higher education institution, the framework/programme team must submit evidence that the receiving institution has considered and approved the arrangement. The key issue for consideration by validation panels is the academic skill-set to be provided for heterogeneous cohorts of students, many or all of whom may be less able academically at the point of entry, and the development of their ability to progress and eventually to study at Level H. It is possible to secure the students’ academic skills and understandings either by adding units at Level C (as an extended academic year), or through a separately specified bridging programme comprising additional units worth 40 credits at Level I, or through additional academic support in Level C (see section 2.3). In addition to academic progression routes, arrangements may be made for progression to professional programmes of study or industrial training. Such arrangements must also be confirmed at validation and recorded in the Framework/Programme Specification. Progression to Level H may require students to reach a specified level of performance, which may be expressed in terms of average marks across Level I units, or specified marks to be reached in a given number of units, or specified performance in named units. Progression arrangements establish the basis of students’ eligibility to progress to further study. They cannot and do not guarantee the availability of progression opportunities for individual students in a given year. Information given to students, and prospective students, should indicate that those who successfully complete the Foundation degree, with any performance requirements specified for a particular programme, may progress to a named programme of further study. A formal induction should be provided for students when they enter the University’s Level H programmes from a Foundation degree.

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Academic Procedure B5

September 2009

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