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The University of Southampton
Quality HandbookProgrammes and modules

Underpinning Educational Philosophy and Goals

Principles related to the Underpinning Educational Philosophy and Goals of Programmes

  1. Programmes should be underpinned by a programme strategy, pedagogic approach and clear principles which are informed by educational theory and practice and which are understood by the programme team and are communicated to and clarified with students.
  2. Programmes should comprise a coherent set of modules, each of which has a designated credit value and FHEQ level, arranged over the duration of the programme to appropriately scaffold students’ learning (including independent learning).
  3. Programmes should identify their modules as either core, compulsory or option and make any dependencies to other modules clear by identifying where modules are pre-requisite and/or co-requisite to other modules. 
  4. All undergraduate and integrated Masters’ programmes should have the potential to lead to honours. Intermediate exit awards are to be available as appropriate.
  5. Programmes should be designed based on the minimum number of credits for an award unless in exceptional circumstances and approved by AQSC, and only if the required programme outcomes cannot be accommodated within the minimum.
  6. The assessment requirements of a module should be proportionate to its credit value and level.
  7. Teaching staff should be appropriately qualified and/or be of an appropriate professional standing

Undergraduate Programmes

Postgraduate Programme

Articulation and Guidance

When programmes are being designed, programme leaders and their teams should start by considering the key purposes of the programme and associated modules, and specifically, the learning outcomes that they want students to be able to demonstrate and why.  It is important to look at the programme holistically and decide on programme level strategies and principles which are important for the programme and will, therefore, need to permeate the programme and its delivery. This should include consideration of programme level learning, teaching and assessment strategies and approaches. Any strategies, principles and guidelines at University, Faculty and School level will need to be factored in when discussing those aspects considered most important for the programme. 

Consideration of the exit point and required journey to get students successfully to the point of award should help programme teams to develop a curriculum which ensures the development of required and desired knowledge, understanding, skills and competencies through core and compulsory modules with optional choices complementing these.

Modules are the building blocks of the programme, and should be created to ensure that the programme learning outcomes are appropriately taught and assessed.

According to Thomas et al (2015) there is a “wide range of interpretations of Directed Independent Learning, however, in common with the literature, the approaches are all student-centred, and include differing degrees of direction – it is not simply something that happens when students go off to study on their own, but something related to their essential nature as enquirers, or to their needs as learners within their academic programme of study”.  As part of the validation process, programme teams should discuss what independent learning means for their discipline and the programme under design and they should articulate this throughout their documentation.  Independent learning and the nature of its assessment will be discussed as part of validation.

In principle, an inclusive approach to programme design should lessen the need for making adjustments for individual students, including disabled students although this does not preclude or replace the requirement for making reasonable adjustments.

Checklist and Questions

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