Report on the Programme Handbook Audit by Reileyfan


									  Summary Report on the Programme
          Handbook Audit

                               Michelle Garvey

             Inclusive Curriculum Development Officer

                          Trinity College Dublin
                                 April 2009

Trinity Inclusive Curriculum                     Telephone +353 (0) 87 9201209
Room 2054,                                       Facsimile +353 (0) 1 896 3672
Trinity College Dublin                           E-mail
Programme handbooks provide a vital source of information to the current
students and staff of a programme, as well as others both inside and outside
Trinity College Dublin (TCD). Thus, it is important to ensure that all handbooks
are created to a high standard. As such a handbook audit was undertaken as
part of the Trinity Inclusive Curriculum (TIC) project.

The TIC Project, a Strategic Innovation Funded project, aims to introduce
inclusive teaching, learning and assessment practices into the curricula of TCD
so as to enable all students, particularly those from non-traditional learning
backgrounds, to participate more fully in the academic life of TCD.

In phase one of this project (October 2008 - May 2009) a programme handbook
audit was identified as an area that would assist the project in achieving its core

A report with good practice suggestions was collated after reviewing a
representative sample of current handbooks and noting examples of good
practice. The adoption of the good practice suggestions contained within this
report can help dismantle barriers to student academic achievement in TCD, thus
increasing inclusivity.

Aims of the Programme Handbook Audit:
-   To assess the quality and standards of programme handbooks against
    College requirements and internal and external good practice.
-   To identify and disseminating good practice, and highlight areas for
-   To create a template to be used by programmes in the design and review of

Key Findings:
-   Many examples of good practice were noted, including study and
    assessment guidelines, service and facility information, and descriptions of
    academic expectations in third level.
-   73% of undergraduate courses included information on key texts.
-   41% of handbooks used accessible fonts.
-   38% of programmes gave full details of assessment dates while 33% gave
    details of grading criteria.
-   67% of handbooks gave contact details for all relevant staff, 16% gave
    contact details for administration only, and 16% gave no contact details for
-   16% of programme handbooks included programme outcomes and 30%
    included module learning outcomes.
-   23% of programmes included a full explanation of ECTS (European Credit
    Transfer System).
-   23% of programmes included a guide to referencing.
-   Twelve handbooks out of sixty-one surveyed could not be located and there
    is no consistency regarding where online programme handbooks are located.
-   There was out of date information in at least 18% of handbooks, including old
    faculty names, 608 pre-fixes in contact details, and broken web links.

TCD Requirements
College has specified that all programme handbooks should include the following
minimum information as per ‘Assessment and Examination Procedures for
Undergraduate Degree and Diploma/Certificate Courses’, Senior Lecturer, 2002.
1. Each programme should have a programme handbook published annually.
    This must include:
          a. an outline of the structure and content for each year of the

          b. a statement of course requirements for each year;
          c. clearly described details of assessment and examination
             arrangements, including marking conventions and grade
             descriptors, for each year of the course,;
          d. the full statement of College's policy on plagiarism (see Calendar,
             General Regulations and Information, §63 - §71).
2. A hard copy of the handbook must be available from the school/departmental
   office (or, where appropriate, course administrative office) to all students
   registered for the course.
3. Programme handbooks should be reviewed and updated in their entirety on
   an annual basis to ensure accuracy.
          a. This is the responsibility of the Director of Teaching and
             Learning/Course Coordinator.
4. A statement noting that in the event of any conflict or inconsistency arising
   between the General Regulations published in the University Calendar and
   information contained in programme handbooks, the Calendar will prevail.

Good Practice Suggestions
1. Use the handbook template accompanying this document as the basis for
   future programme handbooks and handbook updates.
          a. Include all relevant information in the programme handbook, rather
              than splitting it between a programme and school handbook.
2. Ensure that the hard copy of the programme handbook is identical to the
   online version.
3. Ensure that where programme handbooks take the form of web pages, they
   follow accessibility guidelines and are print friendly.
4. Agree a location for storing links to handbooks across TCD to ensure easy
          a. Ensure handbooks are available online to prospective students as
             well as current students.

            b. Ensure handbooks are available within three clicks from the TCD
5. Provide all research students (e.g. MLitt/PhD) with a handbook detailing
   relevant information for research students within their school.
6. For larger courses, where it would be cumbersome to include modules for all
   four years within one handbook, there could be a separate handbook for each
            a. Store all four handbooks together online and clearly label for ease
               of reference.
7. Adopt of a school/department wide standardised referencing style and include
   clear guidelines to this style within the handbook.

Accessible Information Guidelines. Trinity College Dublin. Found at Last accessed 09/02/09.

Senior Lecturer's Office (2002), Assessment and Examination Procedures
for Undergraduate Degree and Diploma/Certificate Courses. Trinity College
Dublin. Accessed April 2009, available from:

Appendix - Programme Handbook Template

         Trinity College Dublin

     Full Title of Programme Here

     School/Faculty and Relevant
         Years e.g. 2008/09

Please note that a word version of this document is
available from state where on request.

Table of contents

Put Table of contents here

Throughout the handbook use san serif fonts (e.g. Verdana, Arial).

If possible use font 14 and larger. Do not go below 12.

Keep a word copy that can be distributed to students who may need

to manipulate the format to be able to clearly read it.

Follow clear print guidelines (see


A Note on this Handbook

Explain the role of the handbook in a student
friendly manner         (Include a statement to the effect that the

handbook does not supersede the University regulations in the
College Calendar)

For Example:
This handbook applies to all students taking [Programme name]
taught by the School of [insert]. It provides a guide to what is
expected of you on this programme, and the academic and personal
support available to you. Please retain for future reference.

The information provided in this handbook is accurate at time of
preparation. Any necessary revisions will be notified to students via
[give methods]. Please note that, in the event of any conflict or
inconsistency between the General Regulations published in the
University Calendar and information contained in course handbooks,
the provisions of the General Regulations will prevail.


Insert General Introduction/welcome from the
Head of School/Programme director.

The exact content is up to the discretion of the individual programme.

Staff Contacts
Give the Contact details of all academic and
administrative staff involved in the course.

Include e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and location of office
Give programme office opening hours.
Research interests are also useful to include, particularly at post-
graduate level as students will need to find a thesis topic and
Specify who is:
- Director of Teaching and Learning,
- Head of School/Programme,
- Programme Administrator,
- Any other important figures.

General School Information
Include any information regarding the
school/department that the student may need to

You may wish to include some of the following:

School History
School strengths/research interests
School specific facilities (e.g. subject library, computer lab).
Teaching term dates and timetable
School website and other relevant websites.
Location of notice boards
School mechanisms for student feedback
School structure and student representation

Any further information you may wish to add

Programme Overview

Insert at minimum the following:
Programme aims,
Programme Outcomes,
Programme structure including route options if applicable, and
mandatory and optional modules.

Options for Study Abroad if applicable,
Placement information if applicable,
Professional body/registration details if applicable.

Any further information you may wish to add.

Description of the European Credit
Transfer System (ECTS) (for example)
The ECTS is an academic credit transfer and accumulation
system representing the student workload required to achieve the
specified objectives of a study programme.

The ECTS weighting for a module is a measure of the student
input or workload required for that module, based on factors such
as the number of contact hours, the number and length of written or
verbally presented assessment exercises, class preparation and
private study time, laboratory classes, examinations, clinical
attendance, professional training placements, and so on as
appropriate. There is no intrinsic relationship between the credit
volume of a module and its level of difficulty.

In College, 1 ECTS unit is defined as 20-25 hours of student input
so a 10-credit module will be designed to require 200-250 hours of
student input including class contact time and assessments.

(Select as appropriate for handbook)
- The College norm for full-time study over one academic year at
   undergraduate level is 60 credits.
- The College norm for full-time study over one academic year at
   post-graduate Diploma level is 60 credits.

- The College norm for full-time study over one academic year at
   masters’ level is 90 credits (inclusive of the Masters research
   dissertation normally of 30 ECTS weight).
- The College norm for part-time study over two academic years at
   masters’ level is 120 credits (inclusive of the Masters research
   dissertation normally of 30 ECTS weight).

ECTS credits are awarded to a student only upon successful
completion of the course year. Progression from one year to the
next is determined by the course regulations. Students who fail a
year of their course will not obtain credit for that year even if they
have passed certain component courses. Exceptions to this rule are
one-year and part-year visiting students, who are awarded credit for
individual modules successfully completed.


For each module include the following
Module Information:

- Module title, module code, ECTS credits,
- Term in which module is being offered,
- Prerequisites, if applicable,
- Brief course description,
- Course aims,
- Learning Outcomes.

Teaching Information:

- Primary module instructor, details for primary mode of contact,
   office hours,
- Any other relevant staff e.g. lab assistants, TAs,
- Amount of class hours and expected learner guided hours,
- Class timetable if available (if not available at time of printing state how
   and when it will be confirmed),
- List of teaching methods employed (e.g. lectures, labs, PBL).

- List of key texts,
- Assessment methods and submission/exam dates – including
   weighting for each component as a percentage of the total mark.

Programme Regulations

Any relevant regulations including:

Assessment, submission and late penalty procedures,
Academic appeals and complaints procedures,
Criteria for progression,
Prizes and awards if applicable.

General Guidelines
Include any extra information that will be of help
to students
At minimum:
Referencing style (What style is to be used, and guidelines on how to use it),
Grading criteria (e.g. what constitutes a I, II.I etc.).

Other Good practice Suggestions:
Explanation of teaching methods (e.g. what is a tutorial/lecture/seminar etc.
and what is expected of students in each),
Study guidelines (how to study at third level, how it differs from second level),
Guidelines for main assessment techniques,
Rationale and use of Turnitin software (if applicable),
Dissertation guidelines.

Information on Resources

Good Practice Suggestion:
Give details of academic resources available to

  – Library facilities
  – IT facilities
  – Any others of relevance to the course?

Health and Safety

Include safety information here if applicable
Chemical safety if applicable,
Laboratory safety if applicable,
Field trip guidelines if applicable,
Out of hours' policy if applicable,

Student Supports
Good practice Suggestion
Include a brief description and contact details for
Services your students will find relevant for both
academic and personal support

Tutorial service,
Student Counselling Service, including Learning Support and
Disability Service,
Careers Advisory Service.

Any others you feel may be applicable to your students


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