PROCEDURES FOR THE PERIODIC REVIEW OF COURSES LEADING TO
UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX AWARDS 1(except Writtle College)
Periodic Review is a quinquennial university level procedure designed to reapprove courses on the basis of an evaluation of the previous five years of their operation.
For partner institutions, Periodic Review is the process by which the University re-validates courses which lead to its awards.
1. Purposes of Periodic Review
; To review the continuing validity and relevance of course aims and intended learning
; To enable an external subject expert or experts to contribute advice on the course;
; To identify good practice for wider dissemination;
; To identify areas for enhancement;
; To audit the department's procedures for quality assurance and enhancement and the
maintenance of academic standards (or the procedures of collaborative partner
institutions as they apply to the courses under review);
; To report to the appropriate Faculty Board with a specific, reasoned recommendation
about the future of the course(s).
2. Structure of the Periodic Review
The Periodic Review normally consists of 2 stages: Stage 1 and Stage 2. Stage 1 is concerned with quality assurance and enhancement mechanisms within a
department/centre and the implementation of relevant University policy. Stage 2 concentrates on the review and reapproval of courses.
In the case of collaborative partners, Stage 1 may not take place if the institutional level generic review is deemed to have covered all those issues addressed by the Stage 1 questionnaire.
Subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching), some elements of a review may be forgone if a department has participated in an external audit in the same year in which they undergo Periodic Review.
Undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses will not normally be reviewed at the same Stage 2 event. Where undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses are being considered as part of the same Periodic Review, the Stage 2 meeting will be structured in such a way as to ensure that they are considered discretely.
3. Periodic Review Panels
Periodic Review Panels will be appointed by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) or Dean of Learning Partnership after consultation with the Department or partner institution principally responsible for the delivery of the course concerned. Each Panel is normally constituted as follows:
1 Approved by ASC May 2004 and by Senate June 2004.
; A Dean, or an alternative appointed at the request of the Dean(s) responsible for the
provision under review (in the Chair);
; At least one subject expert from outside the University and its partner institutions (in
the case of foundation degrees, there should be two external subject experts, one of 2whom should be an employer representative);
; At least one student representative (normally currently registered on one of the
courses - although a recent graduate of an undergraduate course who has progressed
to postgraduate study may alternatively be appointed);
; A member of the administrative staff of the Academic Section or Learning
Partnerships (Secretary of the Review);
; 2 members external to the Department concerned but internal to the
Additional members for courses delivered by collaborative partner institutions:
; 2 members of the University's teaching staff, where possible from a relevant subject
The departmental team should normally consist of:
; Head of Department principally concerned/Area Director/Head of Centre or, for
partner institutions, an appropriate senior officer of the institution delivering the
; Up to 3 members of staff involved in the delivery of the course(s) under review
(normally 3 teaching staff members, or 2 teaching staff members and the Executive
; A member of staff from the partner department in the case of a joint course
4. Arrangements applicable to particular categories of course
New courses (ie courses for which a New Course Approval Form has been submitted to a Faculty Board, or for which a Validation has been undertaken) will be reviewed in the next periodic review after they have run for two academic years from the first intake (undergraduate courses) or one academic year (taught postgraduate courses). During a periodic review, any key issues arising from new courses in the same discipline not yet covered by the full process may be recorded in a section "Issues arising from new courses" in the documentation submitted to the Review Committee.
Courses with no registered students
Courses which have no registered students at the time of their periodic review but which the department/ collaborative partner institution wishes to continue to offer to students should be included in the scope of the Periodic Review.
Departments/ partner institutions should consider whether courses which have had no registered students four years or more should be terminated.
Courses subject to professional, statutory or regulatory body (PSB) accreditation
2 Initial consultations with the unit responsible for the delivery of the course will establish the number of external subject specialists needed to cover the range of courses falling within a particular periodic review and which individuals might be approached to serve in this capacity. This decision may also be governed by the requirements of any accrediting Professional Statutory of Regulatory Body.
A recent review by a PSB does not remove the obligation to conduct periodic review. (However, papers prepared for accreditation might be re-used for periodic review: the Assistant Registrar (Quality) should be consulted on this in the first instance).
The Stage 1 questionnaire should be completed and returned to the QAEO in advance of the Stage 1 meeting. The questionnaire can be found on the quality web pages.
The most important document for the Stage 2 event is the Reflective Document provided by the department under review. This should take the form of a critical commentary cross-referenced to any other documentation provided and should identify those issues the department would find it helpful to explore in greater depth. The structure of the Reflective Document should correspond to the broad agenda themes for periodic review.
Additional documentation requirements in support of the Reflective Document can be found on the Quality web pages or, for collaborative partner institutions, in the Validation Handbook.
6. Meeting arrangements
Stage 1 precedes the main periodic review meeting (Stage 2) and does not involve the whole periodic review panel. The secretary to the periodic review and quality enhancement officer meet with the Head of Department or nominee, an academic member of staff with responsibility for QA&E and the departmental administrator to discuss departmental mechanisms for quality assurance and enhancement and implementation of University policy in relation to quality assurance.
A successful periodic review will be characterised by constructive dialogue, structured around the self-evaluation document provided by the head of the department under review. As a consequence, the course for each periodic review will be slightly different, in order to both meet the specific needs of the department and to address any particular issues or concerns the Panel has.
While the agenda is flexible, there are a number of broad themes which all periodic reviews should consider. An outline agenda and supporting guidelines will therefore be circulated, with the Periodic Review documentation, to the panel and to the departmental team at least 7 working days in advance of the Periodic Review meeting. The agenda for the meeting will be finalised by the panel and agreed with the departmental team, at the beginning of the Stage 2. A generic agenda example is available on the Quality web pages.
The Panel will need to be assured of the continuing rationale for the course(s) concerned and that the department has the necessary resource base for the continued successful running of the course(s). In addition the Panel would expect to be assured that issues identified through annual monitoring, including the comments of students and external examiners, and issues from other sources eg Professional and Statutory Body reports, have been addressed.
A meeting will normally be held with a group(s) of students registered (or previously registered) on the courses under review. The departmental team will not be present for this part of the review.
7. Reporting arrangements
The secretary and Assistant Registrar (Quality) complete a Stage 1 report based upon the Stage 1 checklist and submit this, with any recommendations, to the Chair of the periodic review. The report from Stage 1 of the periodic review is included in the documentation for Stage 2 of the process.
The report resulting from Stage 1 is valid for 5 years, subject to any recommendations being met.
A report will be completed using the Periodic Review report proforma.
The Periodic Review report should be received by the appropriate Faculty Board.
In addition, the Dean may refer particular reports for consideration by the appropriate School Board if they raise University-wide issues.
Assistant Registrar (Quality)
May 2004 – updated with changes to terminology August 2008