Guidance for drafting a contextual document Rationale, aims and market for the proposal Note Standards - course outcomes and level

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1 Guidance for drafting a contextual document 1.1 The following is expected for a proposal for a new course and so represents the maximum that will be expected within a contextual document. At the end of this supplement is an exemplar contextual document for a proposed major change to a course. a. Rationale, aims and market for the proposal: The reasons why the course is proposed (and the fit with University / College / School strategy), evidence for demand and need based upon the application of market intelligence, the intended 'destinations' of graduates, why the University is suitably placed to run it. The extent of consultation (both NTU and external) should be included, including a note of the contributions made, issues raised and the team s response to those points. This section should explain any collaborative provision (see Quality Handbook (QH) Section 10) or features such as elearning, placement and work-based learning, professional practice, flexible or distance learning components and other associated features (including professional body accreditation where applicable). Other special features about the course should be highlighted. Note While many of the above issues will have been aired during the Business Evaluation process, a Development and Approval Group (DAG) will wish to consider these from an academic approval perspective. b. Standards - course outcomes and level: How the team has ensured that the course outcomes are appropriate for the award and levels as defined in QH Section 2 or Section 3 and will secure the target attributes of the NTU graduate / postgraduate. A note on the fit to relevant Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) benchmarks (or, at postgraduate level, QAA s guidance on Master s Degree Characteristics) and/or Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) standards should be provided. The document should draw attention to any salient points about the course outcomes. c. Curriculum design and content: The document should go into greater detail than the Course Specification, describing why the curriculum has been organised in the way it has and how issues such as coherence, balance and progression have been built in. It must include interim level or award outcomes (and a fall back award(s) for an integrated master s course). Course teams should draw attention to key features of the curriculum, for example 'thematic' approaches or employment-related experience. The curriculum should prepare students for the world of work and enable the development of the target attributes of the NTU graduate / postgraduate. Any arrangements for September 2015 page 1

2 placement or work-based learning should be clearly set out and be consistent with University policy. The curriculum should reflect the School s teaching and learning strategy as appropriate and conform to the University s course structure requirements. Note Interim awards should have positive outcomes to reflect Academic Board s policy that no NTU award should be conferred simply for failure of the main course outcomes. However, a simple set of interim outcomes should be drafted to aid the academic judgement of Boards of Examiners making such awards. Since most Boards will want an interim award to be available to students irrespective of the combination of modules passed, the outcomes can be written broadly and in a way that demonstrates that the standard achieved is less than that had the candidate achieved the courses outcomes. d. Teaching, learning and assessment: The document describes the particular teaching, learning and assessment strategies that will be adopted. A curriculum map must be provided to show where the course outcomes are taught and assessed within the individual modules. An assessment schedule must be provided to show the volume and balance of assessment methods. The contextual document should explain where the course fits within the University s online learning and teaching policy and include a draft course assessment and feedback plan (see QH Section 15). e. Assessment regulations: The document should include reference to any special interpretations or dispensations sought, including the way in which classifications will be calculated. For non-degree courses, the full assessment regulation should be provided and meet the University's principles (see QH Section 16d). Where courses attract PSRB accreditation or recognition, the course team should indicate that the PSRB requirements have been taken into account (see QHS 5L). f. Admissions: This should include the nature of the target group, the knowledge, skills, aptitudes, experiences and personal qualities (person specification) demanded on admission and the arrangements for ensuring that admission decisions are fair, clear and explicit and implemented consistently by course teams; and recognise equality and diversity considerations. The section should include a note on whether issues such as widening participation and the recruitment of international students have been addressed. The course specification no longer contains detailed admissions information (this can be found on Course Finder), therefore admissions information should be provided here. g. Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL): The document should include any arrangements for the Accreditation of Prior (Experiential) Learning for entry with advanced standing. Where there will be a standard advanced entry route September 2015 page 2

3 for holders of a particular qualification, the details should be included in the proposal. h. Student support arrangements: The document should explain any special aspects of the arrangements for induction, academic guidance, welfare and pastoral support, and careers information and guidance. This will be particularly relevant in the context of part-time and flexible or distributed learning courses, and collaborative provision. i. Learning resources: Staff profiles should be provided together with an indication of which staff members will teach which modules and any plans for relevant staff research or Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The document should also explain any special aspects of the staff resources, physical facilities, equipment, learning resources, and Libraries and Learning Resources (LLR). (This will be particularly relevant in the context of part-time and flexible or distributed learning courses, and collaborative provision). Note While many of the above issues will have been aired during the Business Evaluation process, a DAG will wish to explore the learning resources from the perspective of the quality of the teaching and learning experience for students. j. Quality management: The document should explain any special aspects of the quality management of the course in terms of course leadership, annual reporting, operation of Boards of Examiners and the deployment of external examiners. This will be particularly relevant in the context of cross-school courses or collaborative provision (see QH Section 10). September 2015 page 3

4 Example of a CONTEXTUAL DOCUMENT for a major change to one or two aspects of an existing course BSc Hons Tram Engineering proposal to amend the course outcomes Rationale, aims and market for the proposal The course was first validated in 1993 and has been in continuous accreditation with the Institute of Tram Engineers since that date. The last accreditation visit took place in 2010 and the next one is due in Some changes to the course were made in 2010 following the publication of the Transport Engineering Subject Benchmark Statement and approved by the University. This proposal is to add an additional learning outcome: to appraise the international role of engineers and the impact of engineering solutions in a global context. This additional outcome embodies a benchmark outcome, but one which we felt we were unable to do full justice to in The subsequent development of a European placement opportunity through our Partnership in Europe scheme, the integration of a significant international dimension into the core modules Creative design engineering (levels 4 and 5), the final year module in International Tram Engineering and the ability to offer supervision in international projects following the appointment of Dr Piercemuller have all strengthened our hand in this area and given us the confidence to include this as an outcome that all students can attain. Standards course outcomes and level The new outcome will sit within the currently approved set of course outcomes: Analyse and evaluate the fundamental concepts, principles and theories of Structural, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (B); Apply knowledge and understanding of the essential facts, concepts, principles and theories of Tram Engineering (B); Design and implement solutions to Tram Engineering problems (B); Explain the role of the professional engineer in the field of Tram Engineering; Demonstrate an informed respect for the principles, values and ethics of Tram Engineering and the role of tram engineers in society (B); Locate Tram Engineering in a commercial and legal context and apply business and management principles relevant to tram engineers (B); Appraise the international role of engineers and the impact of engineering solutions in a global context (B). The introduction of the new outcome has no implications for the existing outcomes, which will all continue to be taught and assessed within the curriculum and need to be achieved by all students to satisfy the award requirements. September 2015 page 4

5 A curriculum map is attached as Appendix 1. Curriculum design and content The new module International Tram Engineering has been drawn up by the Module Leader in conjunction with teaching staff and has the support of the external examiner. During its development, the module s outcomes have been refined to align better with level 6 learning. The module specification is attached. The core modules in Creative Engineering Design have been modified following detailed consideration at a half-day course team meeting; this also included consideration of the project module to full integrate the new international dimension. Dr Piercemuller convened this meeting. The current and revised module specifications are attached showing the changes we have made. The arrangements for the European Placement conform to the University s Placement and Work-based Learning Policy and will be open to all students. Appendix 2 provides full details. Sign-off for the resource aspects of the development were achieved through the business planning process and put in place 12 months ago. The course specification (section 10) has been modified to emphasise the relevance of the international dimension. Teaching, learning and assessment The course specification (section 8) has been slightly modified to highlight the intended use of external professionals with international experience as visiting faculty on the course. This was highlighted as a strength of the provision in the accreditation visit and it ensures that students are continuously exposed to perspectives from a rapidly changing industry. Overall though, the proposals have no impact on our teaching, learning and assessment regime: the new and revised modules conform to this strategy. Furthermore, the team makes an assessment schedule available to students and we have paid very careful attention within the proposals to ensuring that students are not over-assessed and that their assessments are spread evenly updated Assessment Schedule provided as appendix 3. There are no implications for the broad parameters of the existing course assessment and feedback plan, but this will continue to be monitored. Assessment regulations The proposals have no implications for the currently approved assessment regulations. Admissions There is no change to this aspect of the course. September 2015 page 5

6 APL There is no change to this aspect of the course. Student support arrangements There are no modifications to this overall aspect of the course, although appendix 2 sets out some specific arrangements for the placement arrangements. These are in line with the requirements of the Placement and Work-based Learning Policy. Learning resources This development has been planned for three years as part of the School s Academic Plan. We received full College Management Team (CMT) approval for the appointment of Dr Piercemuller and for the introduction of the placement arrangements. The necessary Business Evaluation template is available on request. There are no outstanding matters relating to learning resources. Quality management There are no modifications to this overall aspect of the course. However, we appreciate that the international placement will require close monitoring appendix 2 provides full details. The proposals were approved by SASQC on 19 May (Please note that appendices 1, 2 and 3 are not attached for the purposes of this exemplar) September 2015 page 6

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