Section B: Validation

 

B1. The validation of courses

Validation is the process by which a proposed course of study is approved as an award of the University. This includes short courses or modules as well as degree courses and might range from a proposal requiring the validation of a range of new modules to a relatively minor variant of an already validated course. Minor changes, such as a change to an existing module, are considered in the broader context of the course/s to which they contribute. Validation at the University of Huddersfield takes a risk-based approach.

A flowchart illustrating the University’s validation process and a summary of the validation timeline and its relationship to the marketing and recruitment cycle, can be found in Appendix B and Appendix C.

 

B2. Title of a Course of Study

The validation process will assess the suitability of the proposed course title. Where the title of a course of study is to appear on the award certificate, that title must be approved as part of the validation process and cannot be changed without reference to the Senate

Single subject titles may only be used where subsidiary studies are not substantial enough to merit special mention; however, if the main subject forms too small a proportion of the course to justify a single subject title, the formula ‘Subject A and/with Combined Studies’ may be used.

Where Schools are considering the validation of courses with more than one subject in the title, Section C of this Quality Assurance Procedures should be read in conjunction with this section.

 

B3. Proposing a course or module development

In order to progress a proposal for an amended or new module, route or course, the proposal, in most cases, will need to be added to the Validation Schedule. Schools should notify Registry of proposed course developments by submitting:

  • The Validation Proposal Form to its School QA contact for submission to Registry.
  • For new courses only: A supporting statement from the Director of Marketing, Communications and Student Recruitment confirming the course has been appropriately researched, does not adversely affect the University's funding position and where relevant meets current visa requirements (this is not required for requests to amend existing courses or for proposed routes through an existing course).

Registry will determine whether they are:

  • Developments requiring a University validation event; or
  • Developments to be validated at School level.

 

B3. Types of Validation events

There are four types of validation event:

  • University event (UVP);
  • School event (SAVP);
  • School event which has been enhanced by a representative of the University’s Teaching and Learning Committee as a member of the panel (SAVP+);
  • Fast-track event (new courses only).

The type of validation event held is determined by a number of factors:

  • The level of the course.
  • The structure.
  • Whether the proposal represents a new Subject area for the University.
  • The amount of new or substantially revised material to be considered (one third or more of the credits for the course would normally require a University event).
  • The level of risk associated with the proposed development.
  • The validation history of the course and experience of the team.
  • The professional context of the course and team.
  • The degree of novelty and innovation in the proposed changes. The experience of the school/subject/team.
  • The impact of the change on the overall course structure across all levels.
  • The extent of shared or cross-disciplinary delivery.

Further guidance on the validation process, can be found on the QA and Validation guidance web pages

 

B5. Documents required for validation

Documentation should be submitted to Registry for distribution to the validation panel a minimum of three weeks before the date of a University validation event to the School QA contact. A summary of the minimum documentation required for the validation of a new course or route for both School and University level events is provided below. Please use the Validation Checklist for full details and guidance.

Planning and resource approval documentation, including:

  • A statement from the Dean confirming that the new course/route has been costed and agreed by the Director of Estates and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
  • A statement from the Director of Computing and Library Services confirming all necessary computing and library facilities and resources are available.
  • Course management and staffing structure, including staff CVs (or a link to a staff profile that includes all the necessary information) for the course leader and all staff involved in delivery.
  • For new courses only: A supporting statement from the Director of Marketing, Communications and Student Recruitment confirming the course has been appropriately researched, does not adversely affect the University's funding position and where relevant meets current visa requirements (this is not required for requests to amend existing courses or for proposed routes through an existing course).

An introduction and rationale for the course, including:

  • An explanation of how the course fits into the existing portfolio of courses, how it will support the strategic plan for School and University, and clear evidence of viability.

Programme specification (PSD) with the following appendices:

  • Demonstration of how course learning outcomes map onto all modules .
  • Demonstration of how course learning outcomes map onto the relevant Subject Benchmark Statements (or QAA Characteristic Statement).
  • Demonstration of how personal development planning (PDP) maps onto modules and is progressed through the course.
  • Demonstration of how the modules map to the University Graduate Attributes (HGAs).
  • Demonstration of how course learning outcomes map onto any external Regulatory and/or Professional Body requirements (where appropriate).
  • Outline assessment schedule showing the nature of the assessments, their week of submission, clearly identifying the final assessment submission for the course.
  • For each intake, a delivery schedule for all modules (core, compulsory and optional) identifying the terms of delivery.
  • Confirmation of the weeks of the Main Course Assessment Boards for each intake and identification of the relevant CAB model in line with the CAB Models Guidance.

In addition:

  • All module specification documents (MSDs) that contribute to the course/s.
  • A full report of the School event and confirmation from the Chair of the School panel that any conditions have been met.
  • A completed Inclusive Design checklist (to be completed during the early stages of course design and in accordance with the guidance under the University’s Inclusivity framework for course design).
  • Confirmation of support from the external examiner in consideration of the new course/route development (SAVP or SAVP+ event only).
  • A draft copy of the course handbook.
  • A copy of the relevant coursefinder entry with any potential amendments marked-up to confirm of the identification of areas which have been impacted by Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) implications (course amendments only).

Following validation the programme and module specification/s must be published on the University records management system and declared as a record.

 

Validation of Cross-School Provision

Where courses are being developed across more than one School, the PVC (T&L) may allow a single School-level event to be held with SAVP representation from all schools involved in the development. The report from this event will be submitted to the SAVP of each school for approval.

 

B6. Preparing documentation for validation

Role of the School Board

School Board has oversight of validation documentation prepared by Course Committees, Course Leaders and Module Leaders to ensure it meets the defined requirements and standards necessary for review by a validation panel. School Board must also be satisfied that the design and delivery of proposed courses are compatible with the Teaching and Learning Strategy and any other relevant institutional policy and take an inclusive approach, consulting with Disability Services and utilising current equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) guidance as appropriate.

Role of the School Validation Panel prior to a University Validation

Documentation to be submitted for a University validation should first be subject to scrutiny by a panel within the School independent of the proposing team, and a written report of this should be made available to the University validation panel. If any conditions have been set, there should also be written confirmation that the Chair of the School event has seen and approved the revised documentation prior to its submission to the University event.

 

B7. Appointment of validation panels

University validation panels are appointed by Registry on behalf of the University’s Teaching and Learning Committee and include members with relevant expertise from both within and outside the University.

University validation panels will normally comprise 50% internal and 50% external members, excluding the Chair, who is an internal appointee, and the Registry representative. Internal membership comprises a School representative (normally the Chair of the SAVP event or appropriate SAVP nominee) (but who will not have had any previous involvement with the course) and a representative from another School to be appointed by Registry. External membership normally comprises two external members: one from industry, commerce, public service or the professions; and one from the higher education sector. CVs for the proposed external panel members must be approved by Registry on behalf of the PVC (T&L) in advance of a formal invitation being extended.

The external panel member from the higher education sector should not only be academically qualified and experienced in a field directly related to the course under consideration, but should also have knowledge of current trends and practices within quality assurance in UK HE. Qualifications would normally be expected to be a minimum of one FHEQ level above the level of the proposed course. They should not have had any involvement with the University of Huddersfield for at least the preceding three years or any connection that may compromise impartiality. The general principles under Section M3. Conflicts of Interest for External Examiners apply (except where specified otherwise in this section).

The external panel member from industry should currently (or have been very recently) employed at a middle or senior manager level within a sector directly related to the course under consideration. They should be able to evaluate the module and course learning outcomes in terms of the employability of successful graduates from the course in their own sector. Where they feel reasonable adjustments to the course would improve the employment prospects of graduates, they should be able to give constructive feedback to the panel. They should not have had any involvement with the University of Huddersfield for at least the preceding three years or any connection that may compromise impartiality.

It is the responsibility of the Registry to ensure that nominated external panel members have not had any connection with the University that could potentially compromise impartiality.

Enhanced school validation panels include a member of academic staff from another School acting on behalf of the University’s Teaching and Learning Committee. The Pro Vice- Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) or nominee on behalf of the Committee appoints the UTLC representative.

 

B8. Validation panel discussions and schedule

Validation panels are composed of experienced members of University staff and relevant external members who must be allowed to exercise their professional judgement as to matters which should be the subject of discussion during a validation event. The University expects, however, that panels will take note as a matter of course of:

  • The relevance of course aims, learning outcomes, structure, and assessment.
  • The relevance of module aims, learning outcomes, content, and assessment (including confirmation appropriate consultation with Disability Services has taken place).
  • The outcome and delivery of the course and modules, including the use of C&IT.
  • The inclusion and progression of PDP through the course and modules.
  • The relationship of staff expertise (research, consultancy/teaching) and staff development to the course under consideration.
  • The physical resources available to the course.
  • The alignment of the course with the University Teaching and Learning and Assessment and Feedback Strategies.
  • Inclusivity as identified by the University’s Inclusivity framework for course design.

The Validation Checklist provides further details for panel members on the points above.

Panels are encouraged to identify strengths as well as areas for development in the course(s) and modules under consideration.

Panels will be advised of any general institutional regulations or policies affecting the design and delivery courses and modules and will be asked to ensure compliance with those regulations or policies.

Panel members shall be provided with, and will be expected to familiarise themselves with:

It is the responsibility of Registry to ensure that external members have an accurate understanding of the University's procedures in relation to validation.

It is the responsibility of the Registry representative on the panel to draft a schedule for the University validation event, in consultation with the proposing team and panel Chair.

It is the responsibility of the SAVP secretary to draft a schedule for the enhanced school event, Chair in consultation with the panel Chair and UTLC representative.

In drawing up an agenda for discussion on the day, panels shall indicate any issues which require the attention of members of the senior management or colleagues responsible for central services.

Where panels are required to separate to conduct concurrent discussions it shall normally be the case that at least two members will be involved in any one area of discussion.

Where matters arise which relate to named postholders it is expected that panels will involve such postholders in discussions.

If panel members are requested to provide specialist reports as appendices, they should be notified in advance of an event and be asked to endeavour to return such reports within 28 days of an event. Such reports will normally be the responsibility of more than one member of a panel.

While oral reports on events may be made by the Chair of a panel to representatives of course committees, the definitive report is as presented to the University’s Teaching and Learning Committee.

The reports which panels produce must provide an indication of the nature of the discussions and of the views of the panel on issues relating to the course(s). Where the panel stipulates conditions which must be complied with and/or recommendations which must be carefully considered, these must be clearly defined in the report.

 

B9. Approving and responding to validation reports

The following procedure applies to university validation events:

  • The draft report is written and circulated to panel members for confirmation or amendment.
  • The draft report is circulated to the Dean or nominee so that any factual inaccuracies can be addressed.
  • The University’s Teaching and Learning Committee will receive and note the report as approved by panel members.
  • The report outcomes will be considered by the relevant Course Committee/s and a response to any recommendations or conditions will be prepared where appropriate. These should inform the response of the course team to the event outcomes.
  • The response will be presented to the Chair of the validation panel for approval on behalf of the panel.
  • The Dean will be responsible for ensuring that matters raised in a report are followed up, and for reporting to the University’s Teaching and Learning Committee when any problems arise.
  • It is expected that the implementation of any conditions and recommendations will feature in the subsequent annual evaluation reports of the Course Committee.

The following procedure applies to new courses/routes validated at school validation events and all enhanced School validation events:

  • The School Board will determine procedures for progressing reports of School validation panels ensuring these are consonant with the procedure for university validation reports.
  • The Dean will ensure that an approved report in the standard format is presented to the University’s Teaching and Learning Committee.
  • A signed statement from the Chair of the School validation panel will be sent to the Registry to confirm that any conditions set have been met.

The following procedure applies when notifying changes approved at a school validation event to:

  • course/route title;
  • mode of delivery or attendance;
  • new campus delivery location.

A signed statement from the Chair of the School validation panel will be sent to the Registry to confirm that any conditions set have been met.

 

B10. Appealing against the outcome of a validation event

If the School Board believes there is cause for appeal against the outcome of a validation event, it may appeal to the University’s Teaching and Learning Committee clearly stating the grounds for appeal. The Committee will establish a small group of different composition to the original panel to consider the matter.

 

B11. Changes to validated courses and modules

Changes to course documents

Course teams may find it desirable or necessary to make changes to programme specifications. The University’s Teaching and Learning Committee has empowered School Validation Panels to approve minor changes to existing courses (please see Validation Principles and Guidance for more details on the different levels of changes). Confirmation of consideration of changes at course committee and by the external examiner must be included in the documentation submitted for approval.

In line with University CMA Guidance February 2016 on the application of comsumer law for students, where a proposed change would constitute a material change, the following must be submitted with the documentation:

  • Confirmation of consultation with current students and a brief summary of how that consultation was undertaken.
  • Confirmation of the receipt of 100% positive affirmation from all current students impacted by the proposed change.

If, following a reasonable consultation period and reasonable efforts to obtain positive affirmation, there have been no material objections from the students but it has not been possible to obtain 100% positive affirmation from all affected students, then the proposed change may still be approved, providing that the documentation includes a completed CMA Risk Assessment.

The Chair of the SAVP is responsible for confirming that changes to existing courses do not raise issues which require escalation to the University’s Teaching and Learning Committee. In addition, the Chair of the SAVP is responsible for confirming that resources (including C&LS resources) are in place for the proposed courses.

 

Changes to module documents

School Validation Panels can act on behalf of School Board to review and approve changes to modules or proposed new modules for use within validated courses. A Outline Proposal - Key Details Form should be completed and the validation event level reviewed in the normal way if there are any implications for course documentation (in keeping with the Validation Principles and Guidance). All changes to modules should be considered within the broader context of the courses to which they contribute both operationally and pedagogically. 

New modules contributing to a course that is being reviewed at a University validation event will be considered for approval by the University validation panel.

Confirmation of consideration of changes to modules at course committee and support from the external examiner must be included in the documentation submitted for approval.

In line with University CMA Guidance February 2016 on the application of consumer law for students, where a proposed change would constitute a material change, the following must be submitted with the documentation:

  • Confirmation of consultation with current students and a brief summary of how that consultation was undertaken.
  • Confirmation of the receipt of 100% positive affirmation from all current students impacted by the proposed change.

If following a reasonable consultation period and reasonable efforts to obtain positive affirmation, there have been no material objections from the students but it has not been possible to obtain 100% positive affirmation from all affected students, then the proposed change may still be approved, providing that the documentation includes a completed CMA Risk Assessment.

The Chair of the school event is responsible for confirming the changes to existing modules do not raise issues which require escalation to the University’s Teaching and Learning Committee. In addition, the Chair of the school event is responsible for confirming that resources (including C&LS resources) are in place for the proposed courses.

 

B12. Periodic review of validation activity

Registry will conduct an annual quality appraisal of SAVP activity for reporting to the University Teaching and Learning Committee. Schools should draw up an action plan in response to the review report. The review report and School action plan should be considered and discussed at the second SAVP meeting of each academic session or as near as possible to this meeting.

 

B13. Termination of courses

Where courses are to be discontinued an exit strategy should be drawn up by the course team, which identifies all relevant information relating to the course closure. The exit strategy should be approved by the School's Management/ Executive Committee and monitored via the School Teaching and Learning Committee. For more information please see our guidance on .