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Education Quality and Policy Office


This guidance relates to Triposes, MPhils, MSt, MRes programmes or other postgraduate courses and other certificates and diplomas.

In the context of this guidance 'substantial revisions' include:

  • the introduction of one or more new teaching areas to a course
  • changes to current provision which have resource implications for the Faculty or Department (and School)

On this page:

Initial consultation

To minimise the likelihood of hold-ups later in the approval process it is essential that consultation with the Council of the School and Educational and Student Policy starts as early as possible.



Main interests

All proposals

Council of the School

Student numbers, resources, financial viability and strategic planning

Educational and Student Policy

Development of proposal, legislative matters and general advice

University Draftsman

Drafting of regulations (Educational and Student Policy will liaise with the Draftsman on your behalf)

Students (via staff/student liaison committee or reps etc)

Student views and provision of student support

Directors of Studies (where appropriate)

Implications for College teaching

External advisers with appropriate subject expertise

Independent and objective assessment of the proposals

University and national guidance:

Is the proposal consistent with national guidance?

Is the standard appropriate?

If new written exams are to be introduced

Student Registry

Logistics and exam arrangements

Postgraduate courses

Graduate Admissions Office

Admission arrangements, bursaries and graduate student numbers

If borrowing or sharing arrangements will be affected

Relevant Faculties/Departments

Impact on current arrangements

Accredited courses

Relevant Professional, Regulatory or Statutory Body

Curriculum coverage

As necessary

Other stakeholders (e.g. employers)


Matters to include in proposals

Further guidance and a proforma which institutions are required to complete when proposing a new graduate course are provided here. There is no proforma for new or substantially revised undergraduate courses but proposals for new programmes would be expected to cover (proposals for substantial revisions to courses will vary depending on the nature of the changes):

Main details:

  • title of new/amended course
  • teaching institution
  • contact details of person making application
  • proposed date of course launch
  • course duration

Rationale for the proposed changes:

  • course objectives
  • evidence of demonstrable need
  • rationale for any overlap or duplication of provision with existing University courses
  • fit with Faculty/Department and School strategic plans (including reputational enhancement and financial sustainability)
  • development of the proposal (bodies consulted/reference points considered) and approval secured to date

Course overview:

  • programme structure
  • teaching methods
  • assessment methods
  • student support arrangements and accessibility
  • learning outcomes, graduate employability and destinations
  • proposed accreditation details (if appropriate)
  • proposed sharing and borrowing arrangements with other courses (if appropriate) or collaboration with bodies or institutions outside the University


  • anticipated demand for the course (numbers and quality) and likely ratio of UK/EU and international students
  • proposed admission numbers (plus minimum to make course financially viable and maximum cohort size)
  • entry requirements

Resource implications

  • new or additional teaching, supervision and assessment
  • implications for the availability of resources on other courses
  • provision of administrative support
  • impact on learning resource (library, IT facilities etc)
  • 'additional' costs e.g. field trips or specialist equipment (plus when and how will these be made known to potential students)

Management of the course:

  • how the course will be monitored, evaluated and reviewed, and on what timescale
  • arrangements for student, and where appropriate, employer feedback (other monitoring should include the use of External Examiners and the views of any Professional, Regulatory and Statutory Bodies).

Other required documents

  • [For new courses] a five year business plan, as the General Board will expect an assurance that the relevant Council of the School has approved the plan and is prepared to underwrite any resource implications (including the adequate provision of teaching officers and support staff).
  • A supporting statement from an external adviser with appropriate subject expertise. It will be for the Faculty/Department to determine who to approach to provide this support, but they might, for example, be a member of an existing External Advisory Committee, or an academic colleague from another institution who might be nominated as an external examiner if the new course were to be approved.
  • A completed programme specification, most of the information for which can be drawn from the proposal.
  • Draft Regulations for new courses or amended versions of existing regulations for substantially revised courses.
  • [For graduate courses] a completed proforma including the financial template.

Approval route and timescale

The lead-in time for a new course is likely to be a minimum of two years (and quite possibly three) between first raising the idea and admitting the first students. Commitments to current students, and students who have been accepted through the admissions processes, should also be considered. In a best-case scenario, if a proposal is first raised in the Michaelmas Term, it is unlikely that the necessary internal processes will be completed at least until the end of the Easter Term. However it is difficult to give a precise timetable, as each case is different and dependent on many variables.

It is also important to note that the Undergraduate Prospectus is produced some 18 months in advance and that therefore it is important to keep Cambridge Admissions Office informed of developments. It is hoped that the processes outlined in the table below, together with the list of key dates following, should be of assistance in developing proposals. The Postgraduate Prospectus is only available online and so it may be possible to shorten the timescale.

Educational and Student Policy will advise on the most appropriate route for each proposal but in general it would be as follows:



Necessary paperwork

Main interests

First steps for all proposals

Relevant Faculty/Department Committees, e.g.

  • Academic Committee
  • Degree Committee
  • Directors of Studies Committee


Draft regulations

Business case

Whole proposal

Faculty Board


Draft regulations

Business case

Programme specification

Whole proposal

Council of the School (or sub-committee as appropriate)


Draft regulations

Business case

Resource implications and financial viability

Student numbers, MPhil cap

Strategic planning

Senior Tutors' Committee via its Standing Committee on Education (may not be necessary for all courses)

Cover letter with pared down version of proposal highlighting issues likely to be of interest to Colleges

Student numbers

Admissions procedures

Anticipated impact on the Colleges

[For undergraduate courses supervision arrangements]

Next steps if a Report is not needed (eg a new MPhil, MSt or MRes)

General Board's Education Committee


Business case (for information)

Programme specification

Pedagogic rationale for the course

Student support (staff contact time etc)

Learning resources (library, computing etc)

General Board


Education Committee minute

Whole proposal

Once the General Board have approved the proposal a Notice will be published in the Reporter and the Faculty/Department can start to publicise the course.  The General Board will undertake a full review of all new courses following the completion of the initial cohort.  The timing of the review will be agreed with the Faculty/Department; for more information see the New Course Review Process.

Next steps if a Report is needed (eg major restructure of a Tripos or a new Tripos, or a new type of Master's degree)

General Board's Education Committee

Proposal (plus cover letter explaining rationale for separate award)

Business case (for information)

Draft Report (plus appended regulations)

Programme specification

Pedagogic rationale for the course

Student support (staff contact time etc)

Learning resources (library, computing etc)

Case for new award

General Board

Draft Report (plus appended regulations) signed by members of the Faculty Board

Education Committee minute

Whole proposal

Council (via its Business Committee)

Signed Draft Report (plus appended regulations)

Whole proposal, but particular consideration is likely to be given to the rationale for establishing a new degree and a strong case will need to be made.

Once the Council has approved the proposal the Report will be published in the Reporter and then discussed. If no objections are raised a Grace will be submitted and then approved (this normally takes 4-6 weeks). Once the Grace has been approved the Faculty/Department can start to publicise the course.  The General Board will undertake a full review of all new courses following the completion of the initial cohort.  The timing of the review will be agreed with the Faculty/Department; for more information see the New Course Review Process.

For MSts the Institute of Continuing Education approval by Strategic Committee will also be required. Further guidance is available in the MSt Handbook.

About Reports

Educational and Student Policy will advise if a Report is needed for your proposal. A Report of the General Board/Council will always be required if a new Tripos or graduate degree is proposed as a Grace will be needed to include the new award in Statutes. Major changes to existing awards may require a Report of the Faculty Board.

Educational and Student Policy will help you draft the Report and will advise what should be included. Recent examples published in the Reporter include:

Key committee dates