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The University of Southampton
Quality Handbook

Programme Lead

This Programme Lead Role Description has been developed to provide a generic guide to the key aspects of the role. It is not intended to be prescriptive and may be adapted by schools and faculties depending on local needs and priorities. We recommend using the role descriptor when recruiting new Programme Leads to provide a shared understanding of the role for expressions of interest and ensure that the role is sufficiently resourced. It may also be used by Programme Leads to guide activity in the role and plan professional development.’

Programme Lead Role Description


The quality assurance expectations of the Programme Lead role are detailed in various locations in the Quality Handbook.  This page collates the most relevant of these, but should not be considered an exhaustive list.  The information in the tabs below is generic and its interpretation and implementation may differ across Schools and Faculties. 

Some Schools and Faculties may offer additional resources and guidance for staff, have different reporting structures, or set alternative deadlines to meet their governance needs.  Advice should be sought from the Faculty CQA team in the first instance.

Board of Examiners

The expectation is that there must be a person present at the Board with responsibility for the Programme(s) being discussed. This is usually the Programme Lead. The Director of Programmes (where applicable) may undertake this role if the Programme Lead is exceptionally unable to attend the Board of Examiners meeting and the Director of Programmes is not chairing the meeting. The role of the Programme Lead is to provide information on the delivery and management of the programme and the assessment processes during the year.

In the case of collaborative taught programmes, it is the responsibility of the Faculty to ensure that a Board of Examiners is constituted which includes appropriate representation of academic colleagues from all partner institutions involved in the programmes. It is normally expected that the ‘programme lead’, or other similar officer, from each partner institution shall be a member of the Board of Examiners together with all University internal examiners for the programme and the University-appointed external examiner.

It is recognised that one person could be undertaking more than one role at the Board of Examiners, for example, the Examinations Officer could also be a Module Lead but this should be minimised. The roles of the Chair, the Examinations Officer and the Programme Lead should be undertaken by three different people.

If a Programme Lead is exceptionally unable to attend a Board of Examiners meeting, a person with appropriate experience of the relevant programme and approved by the Deputy Head of School (Education) may attend in their place.

Policy and Procedures for Boards of Examiners for Taught Programmes – Membership, Responsibilities and Operation

Recognition of Prior Learning

Contacts for RPL within each Faculty must be clearly identified. These contacts may be Programme/Pathway Leads or other roles with a wider Faculty remit.

Recognition of Prior Learning Policy

The Academic Link Tutor may be the Director of Programmes or the Programme Leader.

The Collaboration Sponsor is normally a member of staff in a senior position and could be for example a Head of Academic Unit, a Director of Programmes or a Programme Lead.

Collaborative Provision Policy

To receive and respond to queries about academic issues, examination papers, dates of Board of Examiners meetings, accessing online systems and payment of fees and expenses.

To receive and respond to the External Examiners Report in line with the procedures detailed in the Quality Handbook.

Fitness to Practise (where relevant)

Anyone concerned about the behaviour, health and/or professional conduct of a student has the right to raise their concern. Usually the concern will be taken to the Programme Lead or relevant academic staff member.

When a student is withdrawn from practice/programme this will be confirmed to him/her in writing normally within 5 working days. In the case of the former, the Programme Lead will notify the student of the concerns.

To act as a member of a Fitness to Practise Panel for another School.

Fitness to Practise

Programme Approval and Review

The programme team is led by the Deputy Head of School (Education) and includes the key members of academic staff within the discipline who will develop and deliver the programme.

Programme Closure

The programme must continue to be actively managed and subject to the University's QME requirements of module survey, annual module and programme monitoring and external examining. A Programme Lead must also be appointed for the duration of the teach-out phase.

External Advisors

When programme developments fall into the categories described above, the Programme Lead/Director of Programmes is required to nominate, for approval by the Deputy Head of School (Education) on behalf of the School an External Advisor.

On notification that the External Advisor has been approved, the Programme Lead/Director of Programmes, with support from the CQA Team, will contact the External Advisor to inform them of their appointment and outline their duties.

The Programme Lead/Director of Programmes, with support from the CQA Team, will brief the External Advisor about the University’s academic standards as well as providing more general context for the programme development.

External Advisors can expect to receive a response to each point raised and each recommendation made, which, if necessary, will include reasons for not accepting any recommendation. The Approval Panel will look for evidence that the Programme Lead/Director of Programmes has responded to each of the External Advisor points and recommendations.

Mid-module Feedback

The module leader, under the direction of the Programme Lead and School Programmes Committee (SPC) is responsible for running the mid-module feedback exercise.

Academic Student Representation Policy

Guidance on mid-module feedback

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