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Programme development and academic portfolio monitoring

At the University of Bradford, we are committed to providing a high-quality educational experience for all our students.

Through our programme monitoring, review and development processes, we strive to deliver/maintain this commitment and ensure that our programmes are well-designed and:

  • Provide all students with the support they need to succeed in and benefit from their University studies.
  • Enable the achievement of all students to be reliably assessed.
  • Deliver outcomes for students that are recognised by relevant sectors and employers.
  • Comply with relevant internal and external frameworks/standards.

Academic portfolio lifecycle

Development of new or modified courses at Bradford is managed as a continuous programme lifecycle across six Gateways: ideas, strategic alignment and market assessment ("phase 1"), student experience ("phase 2"), operationalisation and ongoing programme monitoring ("phase 3").

Phase 1: Business planning and approval

The first phase of programme development at Bradford is designed to ensure that new or significantly modified programmes are compatible with the University’s strategic objectives and priorities, that programmes in the area will provide value for money to students, and that adequate and appropriate resources are available to allow programmes to be promoted and delivered to a high standard.

After Phase 1: academic development

Following business approval, further work begins on the academic development of the programme, with input from academics, students, professionals, employers and other external experts. This development phase is in line with our internal and external reference points, and includes thinking about the vision and purpose of the programme, the intended learning outcomes, the learning, teaching and assessment strategies and how that links together to form a high-quality academic experience throughout a student's 'programme journey'.

Two business women reviewing a proposal in office at desk with computer - photo by @LinkedInSalesNavigator for Unsplash

Phase 2: Academic approval

The academic development work is then scrutinised at faculty and University level to ensure that the programme is academically coherent, the curriculum is relevant to the aims and learning outcomes of the programme and the standards of the award are appropriate.

After Phase 2: preparation for delivery

Following academic approval, further preparation for delivery of the new/modified programme can begin. This includes the development of teaching, learning and assessment materials and the set up of any operational and administrative processes relevant to the programme(s).

Meeting reviewing Bradford programme derived from photo by Leon for Unsplash

University of Bradford reference points for programme development

Monitoring and review of existing programmes

The monitoring approach for existing programmes at Bradford is a continuous data-driven cycle of review, development and enhancement.

Delivery and collection of data and feedback

During the delivery of our programmes, we collect a variety of data and feedback from different sources to help evaluate the effectiveness and quality of the student experience. We collect and review data regarding student recruitment, performance, retention, progression and attendance at module, programme, school/department, faculty and University level. We also collect feedback at all levels (e.g. module, programme etc.) from students, programme and faculty reps, Student Union Officers, tutors, External Examiners and other University teams to inform our programme monitoring/reviews.

3 archaeology students in a busy laboratory discussing a paper they are working from

Review and revise/plan

We monitor our programmes continually throughout the academic year by looking at relevant and available data and feedback. This culminates in an annual programme ‘health check’ which links to the monitoring at faculty and University level and leads to short-term, medium-term and longer-term development planning.

Such planning could include major modifications to programmes or the development of brand-new programmes. In these instances, faculties follow the development process outlined above.

A large bright green spotlight light in a TV studio. The walls are blue. At the bottom of the frame, a student, whose face is illuminated by the green light, is adjusting the angle of the spotlight.


Following the review and planning phase of programme monitoring, any changes or plans for enhancing the programme/modules are communicated to students, along with details about how it may affect their study plan/choices. At this stage, students are also informed of ways they can continue to feedback about their experiences on the programme to inform future monitoring and development.

Close up photo on a meeting participant's hands as they speak from notes - photo by on Unsplash

The programme specification

A programme specification is defined as "a definitive record of each programme or qualification approved and its intended learning outcomes" (QAA, 2014). These publically available documents should clearly show:

  • the intended learning outcomes of the programme
  • the teaching and learning methods that enable learners to achieve these outcomes and the assessment methods used to demonstrate their achievement
  • the relationship of the programme and its study elements to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications, and, where appropriate, subject benchmark statements.

Programme specifications for staff

A programme specification is required for all programmes. It must include learning outcomes for any interim or exit awards, in addition to the final/target award.

Faculties should ensure the programme specification is clear about any specific regulatory requirements or special requirements that must be met to gain the award, over and above successful completion of the modules; for example, placement requirements or professional body examinations.

The programme specification must address the themes and principles of the Bradford Curriculum, and be a reasonably true record of what will be delivered for the year listed.

Guidance on writing a programme specification is available, together with a template that includes standard paragraphs for inclusion in all specifications - contact your LTQE Faculty Business Partner or browse the links on this page.

Programme changes for students

Modules and course details may change, subject to the University's programme approval, monitoring and review procedures. The University reserves the right to alter or withdraw courses, services and facilities as described on our website without notice and to amend Ordinances, Regulations, fees and charges at any time. Students should enquire as to the up-to-date position when applying for their course of study and when re-enrolling.

With that said, the University will not make substantial changes to programmes as detailed in Programme Specifications without student consent, unless there is no alternative (such as if a provider closes, or a key resource is no longer safe to use).

We actively seek to change programmes as soon as possible where students through their Student Representatives and raise issues and concerns during Student-Staff Liaison Committees.

Management of Placements and Study Abroad

For reference only - programme staff guide (2015) and typology of how we embed placements and study abroad into the curriculum.

If you require this information in an alternative format, please contact our team. You can also read our Website Accessibility Statement.