Quality Manual

Programme design, development and approval - UNUK

This page provides a step-by-step guide for the introduction of a new programme on the UK campus. Its content is primarily directed at staff but may also be of interest to students across the UK campus.

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This page provides guidance on the submission of new programmes to be offered by the University on the UK campus. 

The purpose of the approval process is to ensure that appropriate academic standards are set and maintained and that the programmes offered to students make available learning opportunities which enable the intended learning outcomes to be achieved.

For more information about changes to approved programmes, please consult the following:

Changes to programme specifications

Closing or suspending a programme


For more information about modules, please consult the following:



In order 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

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


Programme approval process

Includes: programme approval process flow chart

The process set out in the numbered sections below should be read in conjunction with the programme approval process flow chart, which can be accessed here:


1.   School and Faculty endorsement

Includes: role of Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor; role of School committees 

Endorsement should be sought at School level for development of a new programme of study (from Education and Student Experience Committee or other local equivalent), followed by endorsement from the Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor.

The School and Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor should give appropriate thought to School, Faculty and University level strategic priorities in considering merits of the new programme.

There may be local variations for seeking endorsement depending on School structures; however, at the end of this stage there should be clear support from both the School and the Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor to proceed to development of the business case.

Endorsement can be recorded via email or noted in committee minutes. 

All new programmes of study will require endorsement at School and Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor level.


2.   Completion of programme outline form

Includes: Curriculum Approvals and Advisory Team (CAAT); review; circulation to colleagues; business planning

Following School and Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor endorsement the School will be required to provide a brief overview of the new programme via a MS form, which can be accessed here:

Programme outline - MS form

This information will be received by the Curriculum Approvals and Advisory Team (CAAT) where it will be reviewed, logged, and shared with other internal teams, as appropriate, for business planning purposes, such as: 

  • Professional and Workbased Learning Team
  • Admissions
  • Marketing
  • New Programme Design Team
  • Registry and Academic Affairs
  • Other teams as appropriate to the programme of study

The purpose of this stage is to understand new programmes in development to allow for preparation of later partnering and business planning. CAAT will only follow up on submissions if content looks to deviate from regulations or has unusual delivery aspirations which may present problems operationally (i.e. compatibility with Campus Solutions). Exchanges at this stage need not hold up development of the business case, but advice from CAAT should be considered and incorporated.

For more information about CAAT, please consult the following page:

Curriculum Management


3.   Development of business case

Includes: apprenticeships; exceptions; programme level design; advice and recommendations; external advice

The School will be required to develop a business case for the new programme of study using the relevant template, which can be accessed here:

Apprenticeship programmes will receive support at this stage from the Professional and Workbased Learning Team.

The following new programmes of study do not require preparation of a full business case. For these new programmes of study, a separate form should be used: 

  • Programmes involving the addition of a placement year to an existing programme:

Request to introduce a placement or industrial year to an existing programme form  Microsoft Word 

  • Programmes involving no qualification award: 

Request to introduce a programme with no qualification form  Microsoft Word

  • Introduction of PG Cert or PG Dip where a masters programme already exists:

Introduction of PG Cert or PG Dip where masters programme already exists - MS form

  • Standard research degrees without significant resource implications or without a taught element: 

Request for a new research degree form  Microsoft Word

For further advice and guidance about development of the business case, please contact                          ss-curriculumadvice@nottingham.ac.uk Email


Programme level design

All new programmes should be developed drawing on good practice in programme design. From the 2021/22 academic year, some Schools developing new programmes will be invited to participate in the Programme Level Curriculum Design Pilot, which will help facilitate engagement with key stakeholders and consider a programme level approach as part of the design process. Those new programmes of study not directly involved in the pilot should still expect to receive useful tools and information to help inform development of their business cases.

Advice and recommendation

Schools are expected to proactively engage with internal and external parties for appropriate advice and guidance in developing their business case: engagement with internal and external parties should be recorded in the appropriate section of the business case. Engagement with students is also expected (see external advice section below).

An up-to-date list of internal contacts is available to assist with this process, which can be accesssed here:

Other sources of appropriate advice might include: 

  • Internal academic staff from related subject areas
  • Contacts made through partnerships with other educational institutions, industry, professional practice or through research collaborations
  • Contacts from academic subject associations and Advanced HE
  • Employers, for example, through industrial advisory boards
  • Organisations in communities with which the programme may be involved

Key stakeholders identified in the business case must complete the recommendation section, reporting any areas of concern which need addressing. Recommendation options for key stakeholders are:

  • 1 – Support
  • 2 – Support with amendments
  • 3 – Do not support

External advice

An external advice form must accompany all business case submissions, which can be accessed here:

For more information relating to external advice in the programme approval process, please consult the following:

External advice in programme approval


4.   Approval of business case

Includes: role of Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor; considerations; outcomes; apprenticeships

The completed business case and external advice form should be submitted by the School to the Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor for approval and sign off. 

If the new programme is also a partnership agreement, evidence of external agreements and Partnership Operational Meeting (POD) approval should also be included. 

The Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor is required to confirm intention to proceed with the new programme, giving full consideration to recommendations and feedback from stakeholders and external advice on the business case.

Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor approval of the business case is required for the School to proceed further in the programme approval process.

In seeking to determine whether a market for the programme exists and whether income and other benefits generated by a new programme will at least match the resources that it will consume, the Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor will consider, in conjunction with faculty-level committees, whether the newly proposed programme would compete with existing programmes within and outside the School and to what extent. One of the aims of a new programme should be to increase (or at least help to maintain) the overall intake of students to the University. In order to arrive at this judgement, the Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor may request additional information, or hold further discussions with the School.

The Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor has discretion to hold the business case at this stage until satisfied (i.e. if revisions, further development, evidence, or consultation is needed) or reject.

Apprenticeship programmes require further approval from the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education and Student Experience. 


Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor approved business cases and accompanying external advice form should be emailed to ss-curriculumadvice@nottingham.ac.uk Email

5.   Development of curriculum documentation 

Includes: business partner; Programme Level Curriculum Design Team; programme specification; curriculum map

Upon receipt of a Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor approved business case, 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 and curriculum map). The partnering process will ensure the School receives appropriate and useful advice about University regulations and operability of the programme of study in Campus Solutions. CAAT will seek advice on any areas which might need resolving and will also consult with the Programme Level Curriculum Design Team.

Programme specification

For more information concerning programme specifications, please consult the following:

Programme specification guidance

Curriculum map

It is essential that a curriculum map accompanies the programme specification. For more information, please consult the following examples:

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 programme specification, external advice and business case to key internal stakeholders for a two week period for comment.

This will be an interactive process which allows the School to respond directly to queries and make amends to curriculum documents as appropriate.

Responses from key stakeholders at this point are not mandated; however, stakeholders are strongly advised to satisfy themselves that any operational challenges are highlighted and resolved.

Schools should ensure any queries raised are responded to in a timely manner.


7.   Programme approval 

Includes: programme review panel; apprenticeships

Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor approved programmes, which have full stakeholder support and do not present any operational issues, may be approved and signed off by the Associate Director (Curriculum, Timetabling, PGR) or the Senior Manager (Head of Curriculum) on behalf of Quality and Standards Commitee (QSC).

Faculty approved programmes without full stakeholder support and/or those which present more challenging considerations will be put forward for discussion at the next available Programme Review Panel. Panel dates will be 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 address any questions from the panel. 

All apprenticeships programmes will be considered by a programme review panel.


For panel dates for the 2021/22 session, please consult the following:

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). Other colleagues may be invited as considered appropriate to the particular programme being approved or stakeholder feedback provided.

In considering the programme specification, the Programme Review Panel will:

  • Make a judgement on any issues which fall outside the current scope of the Quality Manual.
  • Consider the operability of the proposed new programme, taking into account stakeholder feedback in relation to this.
  • Consider the key academic aspects of programme specifications – that is, the learning outcomes and how they may 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 Campus Solutions, UCAS codes created (if applicable) and opened for marketing/recruitment.

Students may not be registered on a programme until the programme specification has been approved.

The decision of the Programme Review Panel will be communicated by CAAT to the School and other interested parties in the University. The programme specification will be published online in the Curriculum Catalogue, which then becomes the definitive record, and will make use of the data contained in the specification (for example, course structure) in University processes.

For further advice and guidance on the new programme approval process, please email:                                         ss-curriculumadvice@nottingham.ac.uk Email
This content was last modified on 28 September 2021

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