This page provides step-by-step guidance for the approval of new programmes by change, to be offered by the University on all campuses.
New programmes by change includes existing programmes where curriculum change, either a significant change at one time point or incremental change over time, has led to, effectively, a new programme. It also includes programmes involved in the Curriculum Transformation Programme (CTP).
The purpose of the approval process is to ensure that appropriate academic standards are set and maintained, and that programmes offered to students make available learning opportunities which enable the intended learning outcomes to be achieved.
For more information about making changes to programmes of study via the annual curriculum review cycle, please consult the following:
Changes to programme specifications
Closing or suspending a programme
To meet the responsibility for academic standards and quality of learning opportunities, please consult the following:
UK Quality Code for Higher Education Advice and Guidance – Course Design and Development
And where applicable:
QAA Characteristic Statements
QAA Subject Benchmark Statements
Additionally, for more information about the University's minimum expectations relating to teaching and learning, please consult the following:
Minimum expectations for levels of teaching and learning activity
New programme by change process
Changes to existing programmes of study can be made annually during the annual curriculum review cycle and can be made without the need for reapproval of the whole programme.
However, significant changes to the curriculum as described below, will require approval of the programme of study as a new programme; referred to as 'new programme by change'. This is to ensure academic quality continues to be maintained after initial approval of the programme. Schools planning significant changes to their programmes should consult with the CAAT team to discuss their plans and be appropriately advised. Schools that submit significant changes through the curriculum review cycle which should follow the new programme by change process will be contacted and advised accordingly.
The new programme by change process is a more condensed version of the new programme approval process; not requiring endorsement or a business case. These steps are set out below. These should be read in conjunction with the new programme by change process flow charts, which can be accessed here:
Please note, colleagues in UNM and UNNC complete each of the required steps for new programme by change but vary the order of completion due to local campus structures. These are reflected in the flow charts.
To help Schools understand whether proposed changes to existing programmes of study will require approval as a new programme, the following guidance has been developed.
New Programme Approval Scenarios and Requirments
| Scenario|| New programme approval required|
|Revising existing programmes via the Curriculum Transformation Programme (CTP)
||This would be considered a new programme by change for approval purposes
|Changes to programme learning outcomes
||This may be considered a new programme by change for approval purposes if the changes to programme learning outcomes significantly alter the skills and knowledge that a student will have acquired and what students will be able to do upon successful completion of their studies.
|Changes to the programme structure
This may be considered a new programme by change for approval purposes if:
There are significant revisions to a programme’s core modules either in one year or acroos the whole programme. For example, if more than half of core modules are changing. However this does depend on the mix of core and optional modules. Revisions to core modules might include:
- Adding/removing modules
- Moving modules within the programme structure
- Replacing old modules with new ones
- Replacing old modules with new ones of a different credit value
- Increasing/decreasing the core/optional credit split
- There are significant revisions to optionality. This will be particularly important for programmes which have a higher ratio of optional to core modules, or those that use restricted or alternative groups of modules
Not all proposed programme changes may fit neatly into one of the above scenarios because they may include changes to multiple elements which change the programme significantly from what was originally approved. Schools should seek advice from the Curriculum Approvals and Advisory Team (CAAT) before proceeding with the new programme by change process.
For further advice and guidance about new programmes by change, please contact:
1. School and Faculty endorsement
Includes: role of Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor; role of School committees
It is not necessary to get School and Faculty endorsement for a new programme by change.
It will be necessary to show that the School has approved the curriculum changes with their School education and student experience committees or equivalent in the usual manner.
2. Completion of programme outline form
Includes: Curriculum Approvals and Advisory Team (CAAT); review; circulation to colleagues; business planning
Schools must confirm their intentions to make significant changes to their programme by submitting brief details on the form below. This is to ensure that relevant university colleagues are aware of developments
New programmes by change MS Form
The data collected via the MS Forms will be reviewed by CAAT and shared with other internal stakeholders, as appropriate, for business planning purposes. Stakeholders include, but are not limited to:
- CTP Faculty Curriculum Design Managers (if participating in CTP)
- Teams within Registry and Academic Affairs
- Other teams as appropriate to the programme of study or campus
- Professional and Workbased Learning Team (if relevant)
The purpose of providing information at this stage is to understand the number of new or revised programmes in development to prepare for business partnering and business planning. CAAT will only follow up on submissions if content appears to deviate from regulations, has unusual delivery aspirations which may present problems operationally (i.e. compatibility with systems), or may present Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) regulation challenges. Queries at this stage need not hold up the progression of the programme change, but issues identified by CAAT should be considered and resolved as early as possible in the development stage to prevent having to unpick them later on in the process.
For more information about CAAT, please consult the following page:
Curriculum Approvals and Advisory Team (internal SharePoint)
3. Development of business case
A business case is not needed for new programme by change.
4. Approval of business case
A business case is not needed for new programme by change.
5. Development of curriculum documentation
Includes: business partner; CTP Team; programme specification; curriculum map
Upon receipt of the MSForm, the Curriculum Approvals and Advisory Team (CAAT) will assign a Business Partner to work with the School to assist in the development of their curriculum documentation (programme specification, module specifications and curriculum map). A Business Partner may be assigned earlier in the design process for those programmes involved with the Curriculum Transformation Programme (CTP).
The partnering process will ensure Schools receive appropriate and useful advice about University regulations and operability of programmes of study in any systems. CAAT will seek advice from relevant professional services colleagues on any areas which might need specialist input. For new programmes by change, the Marketing Team will be consulted to ensure compliance with Consumer and Markets Authority (CMA) guidance (UK only). Redesigned programmes involved in CTP will already have considered CMA compliance as part of the design process.
If the new programme also requires a partnership agreement, curriculum documentation should be submitted with the partnership agreement to the Partnership Operational Development Meeting (POD) so they can be considered together.
For more information about partnership approval process please consult the following:
Partnership and Placements
For more information concerning programme specifications, please consult the following:
Programme specification guidance
For more information concerning module specifications, please consult the following:
Module specification guidance
The Business Partner from CAAT will confirm with the School when all paperwork is complete and meets the required standard to proceed to the next stage.
6. Consultation on curriculum documentation
Includes: internal stakeholders; consultation period
The Curriculum Approvals and Advisory Team (CAAT) will make available the curriculum documentation (programme specification, module specifications, curriculum map) to a wide range of internal stakeholders across the University, including Schools, Faculties and Professional Services Departments, for a two-week period for scrutiny. This is an interactive process which allows stakeholders to post comments/queries for the School to address. The School should ensure any comments/queries raised by stakeholders during this consultation process are responded to in a timely manner and addressed to the stakeholder’s satisfaction to avoid delays in approval. This is the final opportunity for stakeholder queries to be raised.
Any unresolved issues raised during the consultation period will be referred to a Programme Review Panel for consideration and approval (see section 7).
7. Programme approval
Includes: programme review panel; apprenticeships
Programmes of study which have no unresolved issues from the consultation with stakeholders, and do not present any challenging operational or regulatory issues, will be approved by the Associate Director (Curriculum & Timetabling) or the Senior Manager (Head of Curriculum) on behalf of Quality and Standards Committee (QSC).
All other programmes will be put forward for consideration at the next available Programme Review Panel. Panel dates are published prior to the start of the academic year, with around six meetings scheduled in each academic year. Representatives from the School are expected to attend the Programme Review Panel to respond to questions.
The completed curriculum documentation (programme specification, module specifications, and curriculum map) should be submitted to CAAT at least one month prior to the Programme Review Panel to allow time to complete the two-week Stakeholder Consultation and for the Programme Review Panel to consider the documentation in advance.
For panel dates for the 2023/24 session, please consult the following:
Programme Review Panel Dates (internal SharePoint)
Colleagues in UNM and UNNC will require a further approval from local authorities before a programme is launched. In UNM approval is required from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). In UNNC approval is required from the Ministry of Education (MOE).
7.1 Timeline for approval and CMA considerations (UK only)
To meet the university’s UKs publishing deadlines for the undergraduate and postgraduate prospectus, and to achieve a full cycle of marketing, Schools should aim for their programme to be developed and approved ahead of the publishing deadlines in the table below.
UK Publishing deadlines for UG and PGT programmes
||31 January in the calendar year before students commence the course (ahead of publication of the online prospectus in March)
||31 May in the calendar year before students commence the course (ahead of publication of the online prospectus in July)
For further advice and guidance about timelines for approval, please email:
There may be occasions when Schools request the introduction of a new programme by change after the release of the online prospectus. Each request will be carefully considered by CAAT, Marketing, Admissions, the Legal team and other key individuals in the University as appropriate. For new programmes by change the main consideration would be risks relating to Consumer and Markets Authority (CMA) guidance, and specifically changing curriculum information which is material to prospective student decisions. In these circumstances the Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor (FPVC) or FPVC nominee will be presented with information about potential recruitment or CMA risks and asked to decide whether to proceed as planned or delay, weighing up the benefits against the outlined potential risks. In the case of new programmes by change, if the Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor (FPVC) or FPVC nominee agrees to proceed, then a timeline for approval and subsequent communication with prospective students will be agreed by all parties.
7.2 Latest dates for programme approval (all campuses)
The latest possible dates for programme approval are detailed in the table below. Colleagues should consider building in ‘slack’ to their development timelines to allow for possible delays, for example if the Programme Review Panel ask for major revisions to be submitted to the next panel or if the stakeholder consultation surfaces issues which need time to be resolved. We recommend colleagues aim for one or two panels earlier than the latest possible dates to ensure programmes are approved in time for planned start dates.
Latest dates for obtaining university approval for new programmes
|Require UCAS recruitment ||Require timetabling||Latest date for university approval |
31 July in the calendar year before students commence the course
||31 January in the same calendar year students commence the course
||31 July in the same calendar year students commence the course
7.3 Programme review panel
The Programme Review Panel at a minimum will consist of two QSC members, one of which will take the role of Chair, and senior representation from the Curriculum Approvals and Advisory Team (CAAT): Associate Director (Curriculum, Timetabling, PGR) or the Senior Manager (Head of Curriculum). The academic lead(s) for the programme of study being considered will be expected to attend the panel and answer any queries put to them. Other colleagues may be invited to attend the panel if they have noted issues on the business case or during the consultation that are yet to be resolved.
In considering the curriculum documentation, the Programme Review Panel will:
- Make a judgement on any issues that fall outside the current scope of the Quality Manual.
- Review the operability of the proposed new programme, considering stakeholder feedback in relation to this.
- Consider the key academic aspects of programme specification – that is, the learning outcomes and how they will be taught and assessed. This consideration will be largely limited to ensuring that the learning outcomes are appropriate to the level of qualification being awarded.
- Ensure that there has been adequate consultation with other affected Schools, and that any comments or objections from these other Schools have been appropriately addressed.
- Ensure that the overall programme has coherence in terms of logic in structure, intellectual integrity and assessment methods being aligned with programme content, learning outcomes and learning and teaching activities.
The Panel can either:
- Approve (either outright or with minor changes which can be returned for final approval by Chair’s Action within an agreed timeframe)
- Ask for major revisions to be submitted to a future panel
- Reject the proposal
Programmes approved at the panel, or with amends subject to Chair’s action, will be created in the student records system, UCAS codes created (if applicable) and opened for marketing/recruitment.
Students may not be registered on a programme until the programme has been approved.
The decision of the Programme Review Panel will be communicated by CAAT to the School and other university stakeholders. Programme and module specifications will be published online in the Online Course Catalogue, which then becomes the definitive record.