Section L: Thematic reviews


L1. The function of thematic reviews

Thematic Reviews are an open review to enhance practice across the Institution in a strategic area. They evaluate the strategic direction and performance of the theme across the University, to assess the area of work and its operation and to ensure appropriate quality assurance and enhancement arrangements are in place. The review will be concerned with both ‘fitness of purpose’ and ‘fitness for purpose’. Thematic reviews will normally take place once per year and the programme of themes for review will be determined by UTLC/URC.


L2. The content of thematic reviews

Thematic reviews allow close scrutiny of key areas and their operation across the University to allow attention to detail, and to links between different units, that other quality assurance processes may not produce. The aim of thematic reviews is to evaluate the area under consideration in relationship to university, service and School mission statements, aims and objectives, strategic plans and the external environment.

Thematic reviews will focus on an area’s relationship, as appropriate to the theme being reviewed, with:

  • quality assurance, management and enhancement issues;
  • teaching and learning, and assessment;
  • C&IT strategies;
  • University’s Strategic plans;
  • student retention, progression and achievement;
  • research and scholarly activity;
  • policies for staff development;
  • the articulation and assurance of standards;
  • external reports and annual evaluation;
  • links with professional bodies, employers, and other external organisations;
  • links between Schools and Services in the University;
  • customer care;
  • cost effectiveness.


L3. Documentation required for thematic reviews

The documentation submitted to thematic review panels should utilise existing documents wherever possible but should include the following:

  • Self-evaluation reports (not exceeding 4-6 sides of A4) from applicable services, highlighting current perceived strengths and achievements, matters requiring and receiving attention and focusing on the relevant issues listed in paragraph 2 above.
  • Self-evaluation reports from Schools (not exceeding 4-6 sides of A4) highlighting current perceived strengths and achievements, matters requiring and receiving attention and focusing on the issues listed in H2. above.
  • An append document of appropriate supporting information such as relevant regulations, procedures and policies relating to the theme.


L4. Appointment of thematic review panels

Thematic review panels are appointed to act on behalf of the Senate and report to it. The chair of the panel will normally be a senior academic member of staff. Full panel membership will be established by the Assistant Registrar (Quality Assurance), in consultation with the panel chair and will be approved by the PVC (Teaching and Learning)/ (Research & Enterprise). External membership of the panel will reflect the nature of the theme under consideration.

In addition to the chair, panels must normally comprise at least:

  • one senior member from a School in the University;
  • a senior member from a Service in the University;
  • a member of a major University Committee;
  • two external members who are recognised as having relevant expertise and who have not had a close association with the University over the previous three years;
  • a representative from the Students’ Union.


L5. Conduct of thematic reviews

The Assistant Registrar (Quality Assurance) will circulate the documentation for consideration by the panel. The panel may hold a pre-meeting to draw up a list of issues for consideration during the thematic review, a draft programme and allocation of responsibilities.

The programme for each review is determined by the chair of the panel and the Assistant Registrar in consultation with members of the panel and will normally include:

  • a meeting with key users/stakeholders;
  • a meeting with representatives of formally established committees or groups;
  • meeting(s) with a sample group of staff involved in the area;
  • meeting(s) with relevant support staff;
  • meeting(s) with a range of students undergraduate, taught postgraduate and research students and recent graduates (if appropriate);
  • inspection of facilities (if appropriate).


L6. Reports of thematic reviews

A detailed report of the event containing conclusions and recommendations will be produced and approved by the panel. The final report and its recommendations will be submitted to UTLC/URC for consideration and further action if necessary.


L7. Response by Schools or Services

In addition to recommendations made by the report. Schools or Services may be requested to prepare a report on the actions taken in response to the findings of the review. Responses must be submitted to UTLC/URC within one calendar year of the review