Periodic Review of Courses


    This formal process evaluates a course or group of related courses to assure the continuing quality of provision in the department. The Periodic Review usually takes place every five years and is the basis for re-approval of the courses with effect from the following academic year. (See schedule of Periodic Review events.)

    Separate procedures exist for the Periodic Reviews of courses delivered at partner institutions. Please note that within these guidelines, the term ‘department’ refers to a Department, School or Centre.


    • To review the continuing validity and relevance of the stated aims and the intended learning outcomes of the course(s), in accordance with relevant internal and external reference points, including the QAA UK Quality Code for Higher Education.
    • To ensure that the awards conferred by the University are of an equivalent standard to comparable awards throughout the UK, and that threshold standards are being achieved. To ensure that students continue to be provided with learning opportunities of an appropriate quality.
    • To enable an external subject expert or experts to contribute advice on the course(s). To identify exceptional practice for wider dissemination. To identify areas for enhancement.
    • To audit the procedures for quality assurance and enhancement and the maintenance of academic standards as they apply to the course(s) under review.
    • To report to the appropriate Faculty Education Committee (FEC) with a specific, reasoned recommendation about the future of the course(s) under review. Approval of the Panel’s and FEC recommendation rests with Academic Quality and Standards Committee.


      Periodic Reviews are considered a good opportunity for reflection and enhancement - they enable the department to take a holistic view across programmes and levels (where appropriate), to take stock of the curriculum and developments within the subject, and to evaluate continuing relevance and currency.

      Periodic Reviews enable students to feed into and contribute to curriculum review and development.  They also provide an opportunity for further external and industry input, and to share ideas from other departments and faculties.

      Since 2021/22, the Periodic Review process now takes place across a longer timescale to enable a more collaborative approach between the panel, department and students involved.

      Overview and timeline

        Preparations for a Periodic Review usually start in the summer for events scheduled for the academic year ahead. The QUAD team arrange to meet with the department to brief colleagues on the expectations and documentation requirements. 

        Periodic Review Panel meetings usually take place across the autumn and spring terms in two stages. During Stage 1, the Panel meets with students and agrees key themes and questions which are sent to the department in preparation for Stage 2. Stage 2 usually takes place approximately 6 weeks after Stage 1 and consists of Panel meetings with the department team and any other groups as appropriate. Following the discussions, the Panel agree the outcome of the Periodic Review.

        During the feedback session with the department, the Chair will announce the outcome of the event and notify the team of any conditions and/or recommendations that should be addressed or considered. Commendations will also be highlighted.  A formal report is written by the secretary, and the outcome is reported through the University’s Committee structure. Departments are asked to provide a response to the conditions and recommendations approximately 8 weeks after the final Panel meeting and they are also asked to provide information about actions in response to Periodic Review via the Annual Review of Courses process. The department would also provide students with an executive summary of the Periodic Review outcome.

        The QUAD team have developed a timeline to give an overview of the activities that take place in preparation for a Periodic Review, including information on which teams are responsible for each activity.

        Arrangements applicable to particular categories of courses

        New courses

        New courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level will be reviewed in the next scheduled Periodic Review, irrespective of how long the course has been running. Including new courses within this process enables the department and Review Panel to reflect on the full range of courses and modules on offer, and helps to keep courses and modules logically grouped within the Periodic Review schedule.

        Any key issues arising from new courses should be highlighted in the documentation submitted to the Review Panel. The Periodic Review will reflect that the full set of data may not be available if the course/module has run for less than a year and this will be acknowledged in the discussions of the Panel.

        Courses with no registered students and suspended courses

        Periodic Reviews offer the opportunity to review courses which have been suspended or have no registered students, and to assess whether these courses should continue to be offered or discontinued. Any such courses should therefore be included in the scope of the Periodic Review, and a case made for whether they should continue to be offered, or discontinued.

        For courses which are no longer recruiting new students (discontinued courses), departments will have made arrangements to support any continuing students. Reference can be made to these courses in the Review documentation.

        Courses subject to professional, statutory or regulatory body (PSRB) accreditation

        Accreditation visits by a PSRB cannot replace the University’s obligation to conduct Periodic Review. However, Periodic Review schedules might be revised to align with a PSRB visit or papers prepared for accreditation might be re-used for Periodic Review. Alternatively, it might be possible to replace some elements of a Review, if a department has participated in an external audit in the same year in which they undergo Periodic Review.

        Any change would be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), and the Quality and Academic Development team should be consulted on this in the first instance.

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