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Course and subject management

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Course/Subject Committee and Course/Subject Director

Once a course has been approved, a course committee is formally established (see Terms of Reference) and a Course Director appointed (see Duties).  It is the responsibility of the Course Director working with the course committee and in particular those designated as Module Co-ordinators (see Duties and Responsibilities) to ensure the effective management of the course.

The course committee is responsible for the ongoing administration of the course, including, where applicable, placement in accordance with the University's Code of Practice and Guide to Good Practice, and study abroad in accordance with the Policy for Quality Assurance in respect of Study Abroad (see Policies).  The course committee also undertakes University quality assurance procedures with respect to the course and associated modules.

For certain provision, these course-based arrangements are adapted to take account of the subject-focused development in undergraduate Honours degree provision (see Regulatory Framework).  Subject-based management, encompassing Single Honours, Major, Main and/or Minor strands in an undergraduate subject, is the responsibility of a Subject Committee and a Subject Director.  A Campus Coordinating Group, comprising Subject Directors led by a campus Director of Combined Studies, addresses cross-subject matters.  These arrangements were approved by Senate in October 2002.

There are separate listings of approved combinations for Coleraine, Jordanstown and Magee.

Student Charter

The University's Student Charter and its seven associate charters set out the University's commitments to students and its expectations of them.

Student Support and Guidance

The course or subject committee is expected to put in place, in accordance with University and Faculty policies, arrangements for student support and guidance, in particular

  • student induction, and monitoring attendance
  • studies advice and access to staff
  • student consultation

Guidelines on Student Induction were endorsed by the Teaching and Learning Committee in May 2002, a policy on transition in June 2005, and a protocol on monitoring attendance in May 2004 (see Policies).The University issues all students with a University Handbook.  In addition, a course or subject handbook, deriving from the evaluation document, should be provided to students and supplemented as appropriate by detailed module information. The Centre for Higher Education Research and Practice has developed a template. There is an indicative list of information which should also be provided in module handouts.

A course support area for each course is available in the VLE, Blackboard Learn, to assist communication with students.

Studies Advice

An adviser of studies is allocated to each student.  The University has a Code of Practice for Advisers of Studies.  (Guidance on implementing the Code has been provided to Faculties for implementation from 2012/13.) Feedback by lecturing staff is a regular feature of course delivery.  Students should be made aware of arrangements for individual access to staff outside scheduled teaching, in person and by email.  While staff are not expected to be available 'on demand', all Faculties expect contact details to be provided and information on availability to be indicated on office doors and in appropriate documentation.

Staff/Student Consultation

For full-time provision (other than fully online), the University requires either the establishment of a staff/student consultative committee or student representation on the course/subject committee (with at least two students per year group); the use of both is recognised as best practice.  Such committees meet at least once each semester and are expected to include substantive items relating to teaching and learning on their agenda.

The following matters are expected to be standing items on the agenda: teaching and learning, assessment, studies advice, employer engagement, health and safety.  The annual report of the external examiner and response are discussed with student representatives.

For part-time courses, where formal committees may be less practicable, course/subject committees should develop an appropriate method of consultation, eg by email circulation, online discussion board, meetings with students, outcomes of meetings with advisers of studies or module tutors.  A summary of issues raised must be formally minuted at course/subject committees and appropriate feedback provided to students.

Consultation with students is required for any proposal to amend a course during its period of approval.

Nominated academic staff, Student Advocates, support the implementation of the Partnership Framework with the Students' Union.

Further information on staff/student consultation and guidance on good practice is available from Quality Enhancement's website. The Students' Union supports the development of course representatives and has a role description for course representatives based on that endorsed by Teaching and Learning Committee in February 2007.  A credit-bearing short course module for representatives was introduced in 2008.

External Examiners

The course/subject committee nominates to the Faculty Board external examiner(s) for appointment.  The Faculty Board makes its recommendations to the Academic Standards and Quality Enhancement Committee which, if endorsed, are approved by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) on behalf of Council.

The criteria for appointment, the duties of external examiners and expectations regarding their participation in assessment processes are set out in the Code of Practice for External Examining and the External Examiners' Handbook.

The External Examiner receives a copy of the course/subject document and other material from the course/subject director.

The Campus Coordinating Group nominates a Chief External Examiner in respect of awards deriving from combinations of undergraduate honours subjects.

Board of Examiners

The course committee, with the external examiners, becomes the Board of Examiners for the course and as such determines the assessment results and academic progression of students, and makes recommendations for awards to Senate.

For undergraduate Major/Minor, Joint or Combined (three minor) Honours degrees, a two-tier system operates.  The subject committee and the subject external examiners form the subject Board of Examiners which determines assessment results (and progress decisions and award recommendations for Single Honours degree students) and forwards these to the Campus Progress and Award Board.  This comprises Subject Directors and the Chief External Examiner.  It reviews performance in all modules in the subjects taken and makes progress decisions and forwards award recommendations to Senate.