Definitions of change

Definitions of Change


New units: New optional units are normally approved at School and then Faculty level whereas new mandatory units may also require University approval if they form part of a significant programme change. Programme structures need to be updated to reflect the addition of any new unit.

Changes to units and unit updating: It is possible to make some changes to your units for future academic years without requiring formal approval. The fields that can be updated are: teaching block, unit director, description, pre/co-requisites, open unit status and the key reading and references. Please see the separate web page on unit updating.


New programmes: Approval is required from the School, Faculty, Education Committee, Senate and Council.  In some very specific circumstances, a new programme may be deemed low risk (for example, adding a study abroad year to an existing undergraduate programme where the School already has experience of running such programmes) and in these cases a framework for considering low risk new programme proposals has been established framework.docx (Office document, 13kB)  Please consult your Faculty Education Director or AQPO if you have any queries about this.

Changes to programmes: There are some changes that you can make to your programmes for future academic years without requiring formal approval. The fields that can be updated are the Programme Director, Additional Information and the Source for Further Information - if you are making changes to these fields only, please contact

The relevant Faculty Education Director will decide if a change requires Faculty or University approval within the context of assessing the potential risks to the University. Below is a summary table of what criteria decide whether a change is high or low risk.

High risk changes: Those which have the potential to materially affect the student experience, compromise academic standards and/or expose the University to increased financial risk. The table below captures the majority of cases which are likely to come into this category.

 Financial riskRisk to the student experience and/or academic standards
1. Collaboration with another institution or organisation and/or delivery of a programme, or part of a programme, overseas. Yes Yes
2. A change to the mode of delivery of the programme (for example, the introduction of a part-time route, change to duration through moving from part time to part time variable or a move from face-to-face tuition to distance learning). Yes Yes
3. The addition, or significant* revision, of a work-based placement or study abroad element. Yes Yes
4. Significant changes to the types of assessment (for example, the introduction of substantial oral or group-based assessment in place of examinations or vice versa). This may have implications for staff workloads Yes
5. Changes to the programme title or award (e.g. changing an MA to an MSc). Yes (this may affect the market for a programme) Yes (there may be damage to reputation/standards if the programme/award does not adequately reflect the curriculum)

6. Major restructuring of a programme which:

a) results in significant changes to the intended learning outcomes and hence the programme specification, and/or a significant change in the amount of student choice within the programme;

b) has a material effect on student progression;

c) has a material effect on the award of marks and credits.



 * Significant – affects the programme aims, intended learning outcomes, assessment strategies or exit points.

Low risk changes:

Significant reduction of options for students will normally be considered as a high risk change.

A change to a programme is normally considered high risk if you make any other change to your programme not listed above. This primarily includes changes to:

Please note that for Joint Honours programmes, changes must be approved by all Schools and Faculties involved. The document Joint Hons Checklist (PDF, 186kB) should be consulted, particularly if you are proposing a new programme.