Updated May 2013
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For guidance on reviewing research postgraduate programmes, please see the Guidelines for Annual Programme Review for Research Programmes (APR(R)).
Please note that the use of the word 'school' in this document also relates to departments or centres.
These notes of guidance apply to all programmes which lead to the following awards, including those taught at partner institutions:
1. Purpose of Annual Programme Review for Taught Programmes
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 the effectiveness of a programme or programmes and the extent to which aims, objects and /or learning outcomes are being achieved;
b) considering any relevant external comments on the wider aspects of the programme(s), including those of external examiners and, where appropriate, employers;
c) considering feedback from students obtained through school student questionnaires, the NSS (National Student Survey (UG)) and any other internal and/or external surveys;
d) encouraging and disseminating good practice by providing feedback to Faculty Quality Enhancement Teams (FQETs);
e) providing input into 5-yearly school reviews and external quality assurance visits;
f) providing an opportunity to update programme specifications and unit forms and therefore keeping this information current and accurate;
g) initiating the planning of consequent changes to units and/or programmes.
1.2 Annual Programme Review (APR) should be undertaken for every taught undergraduate and postgraduate programme. This includes Pathway Certificates, Certificates of Higher Education, Diplomas of Higher Education and all programmes within a collaborative partnership (for the latter see also sections 1.4, 3.6).
1.3 APR should be undertaken for all programmes which are in the process of teaching out, including for the final year of the programme(s), using the separate template provided for teaching out programmes. In these circumstances the APR should focus on the student experience and how any specific issues encountered as a result of teaching out have been addressed.
1.4 A unit of review (and therefore the review report) may consist of a school, a department, a suitable grouping of cognate programmes or a single programme. A school may therefore choose to produce a number of APR reports. However, programmes that are delivered through educational partnerships and distance learning programmes must be reviewed individually and a separate APR report produced. Careful consideration should be given as to the rationale for grouping other programmes for the purposes of annual review. Where a set of programmes is grouped together, measures should be taken to ensure that the process still enables effective scrutiny of any specific issues arising for individual programmes (for example, by ensuring adequate representation at the APR meeting).
1.5 Where a school contributes towards a number of joint programmes (e.g. French and German, French and Italian etc.) these ‘halves’ of programmes may be reviewed as a group of cognate programmes.
2. Timing and submission
2.1 The University deadline for submission of all APR reports is 31st JANUARY. The purpose of this deadline is to ensure that annual programme review takes place in a consistent cycle across the university and that suitable information is available to FQETs at the time of making their visits. Any requests for an extension should be made at the earliest possible opportunity, via email to ESU at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that these can be considered well in advance of the deadline.
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 FQET.
2.3 Late submissions will be reported first to the Faculty Dean and then to the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education.
3. Outline of Procedure
3.1 The value of Annual Programme Review lies in the opportunity for schools to reflect on all aspects of their teaching. Normally APR meetings take place during the autumn term. 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 Heads of School or their nominees (e.g. Directors of Teaching & Learning) are responsible for ensuring that designated school staff have clear responsibility for carrying out APR, with respect to all programmes within the school. Unless otherwise specified, it will normally be the responsibility of the Programme Director to ensure the preparation of documentation for APR (see 6.4 of the Guidelines for Programme Directors).
3.3 The school should gather feedback on its taught undergraduate and postgraduate programmes from external examiners, students and staff. Documents should be circulated to meeting participants in sufficient time before the meeting and should normally include:
a) external examiners' reports from the previous year, and any reports from the current year which have been received (and school responses). If reports have not been received external examiners will normally have made verbal comments at exam boards which should be taken into account;
b) student feedback on units and programmes (quantitative and qualitative, with quantitative analysis);
c) quantitative and qualitative results from the NSS and any other internal and/or external surveys;
d) staff feedback on units;
e) a standard set of statistical information provided by ESU for the relevant year to enable monitoring of student intake, progress and exit data. The information is provided from the central student record system (SITS).
f) programme specifications (as shown in the Programme Catalogue, including the sections of descriptive text: www.bris.ac.uk/esu/unitprogcat/);
g) unit specifications (as shown in the Unit Catalogue, see above);
h) any other information relevant to the programmes in that year, e.g. the last FQET visit report, school review report, Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body accreditation report(s);
i) any overview and reflections on the peer observation process (see www.bris.ac.uk/esu/facultyadvice/policy/peer_obs_guide.doc);
j) minutes of the Board(s) of Examiners meeting.
3.4 All elements are then discussed at an appropriate school meeting, e.g. a dedicated APR meeting or a dedicated section of a teaching and learning committee meeting. The APR report template (see section 4 below) should be referred to during the APR meeting to ensure that all relevant matters are covered.
3.5 It is important that the APR constitutes a collective reflection on the programme(s) and not the views of a particular individual or information simply compiled from a range of other meetings held throughout the period.
3.6 Attendees of the APR meeting will typically include the Director of Teaching and Learning, Programme and Unit Directors, and student school representatives (not an exhaustive list). Where programme(s) to be reviewed are delivered through an educational partnership, it must be ensured that appropriate representatives of all partners contribute to the APR meeting.
3.7 Where student representatives attend the main APR meeting, schools may have a Reserved section of the meeting agenda for any discussions to be attended by staff members only.
3.8 The meeting should also revisit the previous year’s APR report and review the outcomes arising from it.
4. The Report
4.1 The report of the APR meeting should be prepared using the standard APR(T) template for taught programmes or the template for teaching out programmes, as appropriate, in order to ensure that all issues relevant to APR have been covered and to enable ease of reference to particular issues in the APR report during subsequent quality enhancement processes (e.g. FQET visits, School Reviews). It should include a list of the programme(s) reviewed, 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 include within the report a brief summary of strategic issues (see Section 4 of the APR template). This may, if relevant, include drawing attention to significant learning facilities and resources such as library resources, C&IT provision, lecture, seminar and laboratory space.
4.3 Copies of all external examiner reports and school responses discussed at the meeting (see 3.3a) should be appended to the APR report.
4.4 The APR report should include references to other documents where appropriate, although it is not necessary to append these additional documents to the report.
4.5 ESU maintains a shared folder (\\mis-app1.admin.bris.ac.uk\Users\APRand-ExEx) in which are stored read-only copies of APR reports received in the last three years and the statistics supplied by ESU for APR meetings. FQET Chairs and faculties use this folder to access APR reports prior to FQET visits. Requests to be given access to this folder should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Follow-up Action
5.1 The outcomes of the APR must be reported to students. 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 The APR report with appendices (see 4.3-4.4) 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 FQETs.
5.3 The outcomes of APR feed into the work of the FQETs, which will consider APR 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.
5.4 The APR report should specify any actions identified as a result of the review discussions, who will follow up on these, and within what timeframe.
5.5 The actions taken as a result of APR should also be considered during APR the following academic year.