Approved by Education Committee, June 2011; Updated June 2012
Also available as a pdf document
For guidance on reviewing taught programmes, please see the Guidelines for Annual Programme Review for Taught Programmes (APR(T)).
Please note use of the word school in this document and its appendices also relates to departments and centres.
1.1 The purpose of Annual Programme Review is to improve the quality of the programmes offered by the University, through:
a) providing an opportunity to review all postgraduate research programmes within a school / faculty;
b) considering any relevant external comments on the wider aspects of the programme(s), including those of external examiners and, where appropriate, employers;
c) encouraging and disseminating good practice by providing feedback to Faculty Quality Enhancement Teams;
d) providing input into 5-yearly school reviews and external quality assurance visits.
1.2 Annual Programme Review should be undertaken for all postgraduate research programmes. This includes PhD, MPhil, professional doctorates, Masters by Research etc, a full list of the programmes subject to these Guidelines are at Appendix A. The unit of review will normally be the school although a faculty may choose to review its research programmes at faculty level if this is more appropriate and if it is feasible to cover the range of points at that level.
2.1 The University deadline for submission of all APR reports is 31st JANUARY. The purpose of this deadline is to give schools a full term to consider any significant changes they wish to make to their programmes.
2.2 APR reports with appendices must be submitted electronically to the Education Support Unit (ESU) at email@example.com. The ESU will disseminate the report to the relevant Faculty Officers and FQE Team.
2.3 Late submissions will be reported first to the Faculty Dean and then to the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education.
3.1 The value of Annual Programme Review lies in the opportunity for schools to reflect on the previous year. Normally APR meetings take place during the autumn term. This is intended to ensure that all the required information that informs the process is available and considered by relevant staff. This does not preclude any urgent action being taken, prior to APR, as and when the school becomes aware that change is required.
3.2 The school should gather together feedback on its postgraduate research programmes from examiners, students, and school staff. Documents considered as part of annual programme review should normally be:
a) any feedback from examiners of research students from the previous year;
b) any student feedback on research programmes;
c) any feedback from internal and/or external surveys;
d) comments from supervisors of research students;
e) statistical information from the previous year to enable monitoring of student intake, annual progress, and submission and completion rates. The information is provided where possible from the central student record system;
f) any other information relevant to the programmes in that year; e.g. school review report, Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body accreditation report/s;
g) minutes of relevant liaison meetings with postgraduate research students.
3.3 The above documents plus any other evidence about research postgraduate provision over the previous year are discussed at the appropriate school meeting, e.g. staff meeting or research committee. The discussion should include:
a) an overview of any procedures relating to research postgraduate students within the school / faculty;
b) an analysis of the statistics;
c) scrutiny of the annual progress review process;
d) analysis of research student skills development opportunities, including training to teach;
e) analysis of the support available to research students within the school / faculty, including evaluation of capacity to support the type and range of students and, where appropriate, their diverse needs.
3.4 Please refer to the University Regulations and Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes for an overview of areas for consideration and discussion during the meeting, www.bris.ac.uk/esu/pg/cop-research-degrees.html.
3.5 The meeting should also revisit the previous year’s APR report and review the outcomes arising from it
3.6 To minimise the number of meetings, research programmes may be reviewed at the same time as taught programmes.
3.7 APR meetings should use the checklist of items to be discussed to ensure that all relevant matters are covered (see Appendix B).
3.8 The tick-box coversheet found at Appendix C can be used to help ensure all relevant items have been discussed and reported.
4.1 The APR(R) report will constitute the detailed minutes of the relevant meeting. It should include the date of the meeting and a list of those attending. It should be obvious from the report that all elements have been discussed, the positive/negative issues raised and any outcomes/actions noted.
4.2 The Head of School should provide a brief summary of the strategic issues at the beginning of the report.
4.3 The APR(R) report should include references to other documents where appropriate.
4.4 The Head of School may, if necessary, provide a covering note drawing attention to significant overall items such as library resources, IT provision and laboratory space.
4.5 To ensure that all relevant areas are covered in the APR a tickbox coversheet can be appended to the APR, see Appendix C.
5.1 The outcomes of the APR(R) must be reported to students and their comments sought. The school should consider the best way to achieve this. This might be with a paper containing the highlights of the APR being received as an annual standing item at school committee meetings and Student Staff Liaison Committee meetings.
5.2 APR reports with appendices must be submitted electronically to the Education Support Unit (ESU) at firstname.lastname@example.org. The ESU will disseminate the report to the relevant Faculty Officers and FQE Team.
5.3 The outcomes of APR(R) feed into the work of the Faculty Quality Enhancement Team who will consider the reports before carrying out their annual visits to schools (see Guidelines for Faculty Quality Enhancement Teams). The annual FQET report will include reference to APR(R).
5.4 The actions taken as a result of APR(R) should also be considered during APR(R) the following academic year.
These guidelines apply to all programmes which lead to the following awards:
This checklist is provided to ensure that relevant matters are covered by the APR meeting. It is not a definitive list, and many other issues can be discussed at the same meeting. However, by addressing each of the points in the checklist and detailing the discussion and outcomes, the minutes form the APR report and meet the University requirements (see the Guidelines for APR for Research Programmes).
eg; PhD, MPhil. Please make clear exactly which students are covered by this review.
If the APR meeting is unable to consider any of the above due to information being unavailable, please note how this will be discussed when it does becomes available.