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The University of Southampton
Quality HandbookProgrammes and modules

Learning Outcomes

Principles relating to Learning Outcomes

  1. Programmes should have clearly defined aims and learning outcomes specifying what a student should have achieved by the end of the programme.  These should be made explicit in the programme specification.
  2. Assessment of student learning should be specifically designed to give students the opportunity to demonstrate achievement of the relevant programme learning outcomes
  3. Programme information should show the alignment between the programme and module learning outcomes.
  4. As part of programme revalidation all programme teams should review the programme aims and programme learning outcomes, followed by module level learning outcomes, making amendments where required, to ensure the programme is current, relevant and appropriate for the following validation period.
  5. Exit awards for PGT programmes should have positively defined learning outcomes.

Articulation and Guidance

It is important that programme aims and learning outcomes help staff and students to understand what the programme delivers and assesses.  They articulate the knowledge, understanding, skills and competencies which will be developed, learnt and assessed on the programme by the point of completion or if a student exits early. Learning outcomes should be easily understood by students and potentially by others (e.g. employers) and hence should be articulated in such a way as to be easily understandable and not unnecessarily complex. Learning outcomes must be assessed and too many of them make this difficult to achieve. Programme developers and leads are encouraged to ensure that the number of learning outcomes on programmes and modules is minimised to an effective but efficient number.

Assessment of programme level learning outcomes can only be guaranteed for all students through the core and compulsory modules. In light of this programme teams are required to undertake a mapping process as part of programme validation to ensure that it is clear where modules contribute to the demonstration and achievement of programme level learning outcomes. Programme leads should then review and monitor the impact of any proposed module changes on the overall assessment of a programme’s learning outcomes during the period between validation events in order to ensure continued and appropriate assessment of the programme’s learning outcomes is maintained.

Students may leave a programme, for a variety of reasons, without enough credits to attain the full award.  University exit awards are detailed in the CAT Scheme, however for Level 7 intermediate exit award learning outcomes should be positively defined.[1]

During programme development and review the mapping table will highlight any issues which may arise if students exit the programme without the full award (e.g. if there are any learning outcomes which won’t have been assessed if a student does not progress through to full award).

Programme teams should aim to negate any such issues and ensure that students are able to appropriately demonstrate the required learning outcomes at every possible exit point from the programme.


[1] A requirement from the 2015 Higher Education Review.

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