Section K: Subject review


K1. The function of subject review

A subject review is the holistic consideration of the curriculum of the suite of taught courses which comprise that subject area and research activities with a view to:

  • Discuss issues relevant to and generated by the subject area team under review.
  • Consider curriculum development plans and broad proposals, which subsequently feed into the standard validation process as necessary.
  • Promote the discussion of quality enhancement and innovation in course delivery within the subject area.
  • Evaluate the operation of the subject area against the University regulations and quality procedures.
  • Consider research development plans and promote discussion of the quality of research degree provision.

The review is a helpful, consultative and supportive mechanism and includes internal, student and external academic and professional input.

Where there are no planned changes to taught courses, approval will be reconfirmed for the courses within the subject area as part of the subject review event.

Where there are planned changes to the taught courses the subject review discussions will inform the detailed development of course changes, which will be considered in accordance with the processes contained within Section B of the Quality Assurance Procedures for Taught Courses and Research Awards. Where necessary further comments would be sought from the external panel members involved in the subject review event.

Subject areas are determined by the Schools and are notionally based on HECoS subject classifications and will be reviewed at least once every five years in accordance with a schedule confirmed by UTLC. The URC will be notified of the review schedule once confirmed by UTLC.


K2. The process

Subject Reviews should normally:

  • Have been preceded by a Compliance Exercise arranged by Registry to evaluate the alignment of the subject area's activities with the University's regulations and procedures as detailed in Appendix C.
  • Be no longer than a day long and timed to ensure that teams are in a position to review their curriculum at a time that is sensible for course development and can be revalidated before the end of the academic year concerned.
  • Have external involvement: a panel member from outside the School, an external academic and an external representative from industry/the profession (to be approved by the PVC (Teaching and Learning)/ (Research and Enterprise) or nominee); and student representative, and where appropriate one external representative from industry. External members will have not had a close involvement with the University in the last three years.
  • Have been preceded by a meeting with students (taught & research) from across the Subject Area.
  • Include meetings with staff from across the range of provision.


K3. Documentation required for reviews

A self-evaluation document (SED) on the university’s template and supporting documentation should be submitted to Registry for distribution to the panel three weeks before the date of the review. The SED should provide:

  • An overview of curriculum developments and improvements and their drivers.
  • An identification of the key issues the team wants to explore as part of the review.
  • An overview of research activities and their drivers.

Evidence should be drawn from Student Panels, module evaluation, external examiner reports, peer observation of teaching, the Data Analysis meeting with CES and annual evaluation.

The self-evaluation document should be supported by:

  • The compliance exercise report together with the team’s response to that report.
  • Full set of Programme and Module Specification Documentation for the current courses delivered in the subject area.
  • Documentation following the Employability Data Review meeting.
  • Staff CVs for the subject area leader, course leaders, module leaders, all permanent teaching staff, professoriate and where relevant and possible all part- time hourly paid teaching staff.
  • The most recent annual evaluation reports (taught and research), including associated external examiner reports for taught provision and feedback forms for courses in the subject area.
  • Results of the most recent course evaluation exercises - plus the latest NSS and PRES results.
  • A summary of the most recent PSRB reports/engagements where relevant.
  • A sample course (taught and research provision) and module handbook.


K4. Reports of Subject Reviews

Following the review, Registry will normally produce a draft report for approval by the review panel which will be passed to the School within 4 weeks of the event.

The subject area team will draw up a formal response (with clear actions) to the report and arrange for both to be considered by the next available Course Committee and School Board. The report and School’s response should then be submitted to UTLC/URC.

Course teams should include specific proposals for the extent and timing of subsequent course or module changes as part of the formal response so that decisions regarding the nature of the event(s) can be determined.

Feedback on the review and action plan should be reported as part of the next annual evaluation cycle.