Annual Course Review provides a helpful framework for departments to formalise existing practice and to offer a formal vehicle for the consideration of External Examiners’ reports, student feedback (eg from SSLCs, module questionnaires), data on admission and progression, exam results and module literature. The idea of Annual Course Review is to draw together these issues so departments can take a holistic view of a course of study, to assist with the planning of future course developments and to provide core material for Strategic Departmental Review. The operation of the Annual Course Review process and the reports produced will be closely scrutinised during Strategic Departmental Review and, potentially, during external reviews of provision at subject, or institutional, level.
Deadlines for submission of annual course review reports.
Annual Course Review should take place as soon as possible after the Board of Examiners’ meeting for the particular course(s) of study. The exact timing is a matter for individual departments to decide, so long as the Review is conducted within a reasonable period after the Examination Board, while issues are still fresh in the mind. In the case of undergraduate courses, while many departments will wish to conduct Annual Course Review late in the summer vacation, some may hold the review early in the autumn term when staff (and students) are available and after External Examiners’ reports have been received. Annual reviews of postgraduate courses are likely to be undertaken later in the autumn term.
Responsibility for Annual Course Review
Each course (or group of courses) will have a designated course leader (convenor, director or co-ordinator) whose responsibility it is to ensure the organisation and conduct of the Annual Course Review.
Annual Review Meeting
Each year the course leader should convene a meeting of all members of staff with a substantial involvement in delivering the course(s) of study to discuss the progress of the course(s) during that year.
It is preferable, although not always necessary, to hold a separate, special Annual Course Review meeting. In some cases, particularly in smaller departments, where all staff teach on the course(s), it may be more sensible for the Review to take place at the departmental staff meeting. In larger departments, a separate review meeting may be held, which then reports to the Head of Department and the departmental teaching committee (or equivalent) or staff meeting.
Departments are strongly recommended to involve students in Annual Course Review, for example by inviting them to the relevant meeting. Such students might be SSLC representatives. It is otherwise important that student views of the course(s) are taken into account through consideration of feedback from sources such as SSLCs and module questionnaires. Departments are also encouraged to make the Annual Course Review report available to a SSLC meeting.
Documentation for the Review
The review meeting is expected to consider a range of documentation including:
- A summary of student feedback/module questionnaires
- Examination results
- External Examiners’ reports
- Recent Subject Review or external PSRB accreditation reports
- SSLC minutes and/or annual reports
- Module documentation for students (eg student handbooks, module handouts, reading lists)
- Previous year’s Annual Course Review report
- Data, including extracts from the Academic Statistics publication, on applications and registrations; information on non-completion and cohort analysis conducted at departmental level to identify reasons for non-completion and potential implications for departmental support mechanisms; degree classifications and first destination of students, for the last academic year
- Feedback from employers and/or other stakeholders periodically involved in curriculum design and review, where applicable
- The Course Specification(s) for the degree course(s)
- Relevant QAA Subject Benchmark Statements
Departments may wish to consider additional documentation as part of Annual Course Review.
Issues to be Addressed
The Annual Course Review report form seeks information in a number of areas which the review is expected to cover. This list is not intended to be prescriptive and it is open to departments to cover additional areas if they wish. Although not explicitly sought in the report form, departments are encouraged to include information on quality enhancement activities undertaken during the year and to include examples of best practice.
Following the Annual Course Review meeting, course leaders are required to produce a brief report on the review on the standard form covering the progress of the courses during the previous year and addressing areas for development in the forthcoming year.
The completed report should be submitted to the Head of Department. Once they are content with the report, if possible departments should then combine the reports of the Annual Course Reviews of all courses in the department into a single aggregated report, and submit this to the relevant Faculty Board. If it is not possible to provide an aggregated departmental-level report, then individual Annual Course Review reports should be sent to the Faculty Board. Reports from all departments are discussed by the Undergraduate and Graduate Studies Committees of Faculty Boards and points of best practice and areas of possible improvement identified.
Faculty Board Secretariats will then produce composite reports on Annual Course Reviews conducted within their Faculty indicating the principal issues arising, areas for improvement and examples of good practice. These composite reports are forwarded to the Boards of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies for consideration, as appropriate.
The Boards of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies are required to report formally to Academic Quality and Standards Committee (AQSC) that they have received all the Annual Review reports from their respective departments and that they have been thoroughly discussed. It is important therefore that all reports are submitted to the relevant Faculty Board on time. AQSC considers the composite reports produced by Faculty Board Secretariats together with the relevant Minutes from the Boards of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies.
A copy of each Annual Course Review report, together with a record of any follow-up action resulting from its consideration, should also be kept on file in the department for use in future Annual Course Reviews, the next Strategic Departmental Review, and in external reviews of provision at subject, or institutional, level.
Departments are strongly encouraged to provide aggregated departmental-level reports to Faculty Board meetings. Departmental-level reviews are likely to exceed the six page limit for individual course reports but should nevertheless follow the standard checklist. Departments will need to conduct separate reviews of undergraduate and postgraduate courses because of the different timings of the examination boards for each and the rather later arrival of External Examiners' reports for postgraduate degrees.
Annual Course Review serves as a useful means for two or more departments to consider the progress of joint degrees and to ensure that issues relating to the overall course are discussed. One method might be to hold a combined Annual Course Review meeting involving staff from both/all departments. In the case of ‘with’ degrees, the review could be co-ordinated by the course leader of the major subject, whereas course leaders for ‘and’ degrees might assume responsibility for Annual Course Review in alternate years. The resulting report should be submitted to both/all Heads of Department and staff meetings. Alternatively, each department may decide to review separately their own subject, in which case it is recommended that their report is sent to the Head of the other department for consideration.
2+2 and Part-time Degrees and Open Studies Certificates
Annual Course Review reports for these courses should follow the same format as departmental Annual Course Reviews and the reports should be submitted for the consideration of the Collaborative, Flexible and Distributed Learning Sub-Committee (CFDLSC) which is required to report to AQSC that it has received and discussed such reports.