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Education Quality and Policy Office

 

(page revised 13 August 2019)

This page outlines the types of changes you can make to taught courses, including process and timescale, and key points to consider.  Departments are strongly advised to contact your Liaison Officer at an early stage when considering changes, as they can give case-by-case advice on your proposal and ensure approval is granted smoothly.

Changes to Regulations

General Board Regulations

Each award-bearing course within the University is governed by Regulations in the University Statutes and Ordinances; you can find the current Regulations for undergraduate courses here, and find the current Regulations for postgraduate courses here.  The majority of course changes will fall into this category as the Regulations govern things like the content of papers/modules offered, modes of assessment, combinations that may be offered, etc. 

  • In all cases, changes to your General Board Regulations will require approval of the Academic Standards and Enhancement Committee (ASEC).
  • The timeline for introducing changes to your Regulations will vary, as it will depend on the extent of the change and what you have already published to prospective students about what will be available during the course.  Your Liaison Officer will be able to advise on an individual basis, and you may find further information in our CMA Compliance pages.
  • Changes must normally be approved by ASEC not later than the end of the Lent Term to take effect in the following Michaelmas Term.  In some cases, the lead time will be significantly longer and may be up to two years.  A waterfall approval diagram of committee dates relevant to course changes is available to inform changes, visit our Committee dates 2019-20 pages.
  • Late approval for changes will not normally be granted. 
  • If your change includes the suspension or withdrawal of a course, paper or module, please see the additional guidance below on Withdrawing or suspending papers and courses.

Faculty Board Regulations

Some General Board Regulations give Faculty Boards the power to publish minor changes independently, either as formal supplementary Regulations (a sub-set of the General Board Regulations) or as Notices in the Reporter.  This will always be explicitly stated in the General Board Regulations and a timeline for publication will be given.  If your change is one within the power of the Faculty Board to make, you may contact the Reporter Editor directly; however, you should copy your Liaison Officer to the correspondence, so that s/he can assist in publishing the change and keep current with your course content.

Changes to asessment rubric

As above, the mode of assessment (examination, coursework, etc.) is usually outlined in the General Board Regulations for each course, or provision made for publication of the mode in another fashion.  Even if the mode of assessment is not changing, any changes to the rubric, duration or timing of an assessment – for example, changing the length or weighting of a piece of coursework or splitting an examination into sections – must be published as a Form and Conduct Notice. 

  • A Form and Conduct Notice details how the assessment has changed in relation to the assessment in the previous year.  These Notices are designed to provide students who are revising using the previous year’s examination paper (or exemplar coursework) with a clear indication of changes. 
  • Form and Conduct Notices are prepared by the Faculty Board and sent to your EQP Liaison Officer for approval and publication in the Reporter
  • Deadlines for publishing Form and Conduct Notices are formally outlined in University Ordinances; for Easter Term assessments this will be the end of the Michaelmas Term. 

Publicising changes

All changes must be published in the Reporter.  Regulations, and the Notices which announce changes, should normally be drafted by the owning Faculty Board (or comparable body), although your Liaison Officer will be able to assist at any stage.  We will shortly publish on this page some examples to help.

Things to consider when planning course changes

In considering all requests for changes, the primary concerns will be that no student will be disadvantaged, and that no student has already been assured of teaching provision which is then removed or inadequately resourced.  This includes both current and prospective students, and requires careful consideration of what information has already been provided. 

  • ensure that changes are made with due consideration of and consultation with students, and that Directors of Studies and students are advised of proposed changes in good time;
  • ensure that any institutions sharing teaching on affected courses are consulted and notified in good time; it is the responsibility of the borrowing institution to ensure that the needs of its students continue to be met by the borrowed teaching after the change;
  • consult the Student Registry about any timetabling issues if extensive changes to examinations are proposed, noting that this may extend the timeline for approval.

Withdrawing or suspending courses and papers

Withdrawal or suspension of a course

  • The Degree Committee or Faculty Board will need to present a brief case to the Academic Standards and Enhancement Committee (ASEC) and provide documentation demonstrating support for the withdrawal from the relevant Council of the School. 
  • If permission is sought to temporarily suspend a course prior to re-advertising (for example, during periods of structural change), this will normally be granted only for 1-2 years. 
  • Cases of suspension as a result of resourcing or viability issues will not normally be granted without full support of the Academic and Financial Planning and Analysis team.

In no case will the Committee agree to withdraw a course when students have already been made an offer of admission. 

Withdrawal or suspension of a paper or module

Faculty Boards or Degree Committees may have strong reasons for the permanent or temporary withdrawal of papers or modules; such requests may be occasioned by staff taking leave or retiring, so that teaching can no longer be provided.  It is acknowledged that in practice, some degree of flexibility regarding course content will be necessary and, in a research-led institution, appropriate to ensure that teaching consistently reflects discipline developments. 

However, the Committee expects Faculty Boards and Degree Committees to have a sustainable model for teaching and to plan appropriately for research or family leave, particularly for core teaching. 

In no case should withdrawal or suspension be proposed when students have already begun preparation for the examination, bearing in mind prerequisites which may have limited student choice in earlier years.