Quality Manual

External advice in programme approval

This page contains guidance in relation to external advice in programme approval. Its content is primarily directed at staff but may also be of interest to students across all of the UK, China and Malaysia campuses.

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Includes: external advice from academic peers; role of external advisor

External guidance must be sought by schools when developing new programmes. This would consist of guidance from some, or all, of the following groups:

  • External advisers who provide relevant information and guidance on current developments in the discipline(s)
  • Academic peers from other disciplines within the institution
  • Any programme partners, for example, institutions with which there are collaborative arrangements
  • Appropriate Professional, Regulatory and Statutory Bodies (PSRBs)
  • External sources and advisers who provide relevant information and guidance on current developments including, for example, in the workplace

External advice must be sought from an academic peer(s) ‘external to the institution’ when schools are developing new programmes. Where a new programme is aimed at preparing students for a particular profession, evidence of consultation with employers and/or professional bodies should also be provided.

Comments from the external adviser should be submitted along with the business case for consideration by the relevant Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor (PVC) as part of the approval process for new programmes of study.

For more information about the programme approval process and development of a business case, please consult the following:

Programme design, development and approval


What to request from the external adviser

The role of the external adviser is to provide independent and professionally objective advice to the school on the development of a new programme of study. The external adviser should be asked to comment on:

  • The existence of a market for the new programme
  • The likelihood of the programme recruiting to stated targets
  • The reasonableness of the resources required for the programme
  • The validity and relevance of the proposed programme with reference to external reference points (such as Subject Benchmark Statements)
  • The definition and appropriateness of standards in accordance with the level and title of the award
  • The relationship between the proposed programme and current research in the same area
  • The overall coherence and intellectual integrity of the programme
  • The relationship of the programme to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications
  • The relationship of the programme to any other external reference points

Template for the provision of external advice

For a template on the provision of external advice, please refer to the business case stage (section 3) of the new programme approval process, link below:

Programme design, development and approval

It is anticipated that the external adviser’s comments will provide constructive advice to the school and therefore they will be considered during the development of the programme. However, there may be instances when the school considers the comments but decides not to incorporate certain elements into the proposal.

For further information about external advice in relation to new programme approval, please contact          ss-curriculumadvice@nottingham.ac.uk Email

If you have any problems or queries relating to this page, please contact:

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This content was last modified on 12 April 2022

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