Modifying an Existing Programme

The University employs a risk-based approach to modifications; for this reason they are categorised as exceptional, major, or minor, based on the scale and potential impact of the proposed change on students.

The type of modification indicates the level of approval required. Therefore, minor modifications are (as a minimum) approved by the relevant School authority and reported to the College Quality Assurance and Approval Committee (CQAAC). Major modifications are approved by CQAAC, whereas exceptional modifications require University level verification, in addition to CQAAC and College Board approval (if the latter is deemed necessary).

A modified programme specification should be submitted alongside the programme modification form, to ensure the record of the programme remains accurate and up-to-date, as well as any related module level documentation (e.g. associated module proposals, modifications, or withdrawals).

If the modification will result in a new Distance Learning programme or Degree Apprenticeship then the relevant checklist should be completed, in addition to the relevant Approval in Principle (AiP) form. An AiP is also required if an exceptional modification is being used to create a new Collaborative Provision programme or programme that will run at the Dubai campus (see the page on creating a new programme for more information). Note that the AiP must be approved before the exceptional programme modification form is submitted.

If the only change that is being made to the programme is the addition of a placement (e.g. a year or semester abroad) then the relevant placement proposal form should be submitted (with a revised specification and module proposal) in place of the programme modification form.

When making changes to programmes, please ensure you consult the Competitions and Markets Authority guidance as well as the Policy on Consultation with Students and its related guidance.

Guidance and Forms 

Classification of Modifications

It is important to be aware that this should be used as a guide only; whilst the approval process and commitment to quality assurance and enhancement apply consistently across all programmes, there may be programme specific components that will affect the classification of the proposed modification. Please contact the relevant College Academic Policy Partner (CAPP) at the earliest opportunity to discuss the proposed modification for further advice and assistance.

Please note that, particularly where a modification is being submitted after the relevant deadline, Competition and Markets Authority guidance may need to be taken into account for any modification, regardless of the category, although it is very likely to be relevant to exceptional and major modifications and less likely to apply to minor modifications. In the case of all modifications, colleagues are asked to consider whether the proposed change is going to make a difference to something that prospective/current students are expecting to experience and, if it is, to make an appropriate risk-based decision about whether to proceed with the change, whether/how to communicate with prospective/current students, etc. The CMA guidance about making changes to programmes includes more detail regarding this decision-making process.

Exceptional Modifications (University level approval)

Exceptional modifications in some instances may require the completion of the Appendix, which should be discussed with your College Academic Policy Partner.

Exceptional modifications must be approved by the School Education Committee and College Quality Assurance and Approval Committee. Following this, the Deputy Director of Education and College Academic Policy Partner are to determine whether College Board scrutiny is needed (ensuring that the College Director of Education is aware if it is required). The paperwork will then be referred to the Chair of the University Quality Assurance Committee (UQAC) for verification, via the College Academic Policy Partner.

This category of modifications includes the following:

1a. Modifications that result in the programme being materially different to the original programme, e.g. the creation of an exclusively Distance Learning version of an existing programme or the creation of a Degree Apprenticeship or Transnational Education version of an existing programme (using the programme modification form).

1b. Addition or withdrawal of a placement to an existing programme (such as a year abroad, or industrial placement) (using the placement proposal form).

1c. Addition of research descriptor title to a postgraduate research programme (using the programme modification form).

1d. Any modification affecting or resulting from a change to the accreditation status of the programme (i.e. if accreditation by a professional, statutory or regulatory body (PSRB) is gained or lost).

1e. Modifications for which there is no accepted practice or relevant University Regulation, Code of Practice or Guidance.

1f. Unavoidable in-session changes, to modules or to programmes. More guidance on what can reasonably be classed as ‘unavoidable’ is provided in the Policy on Consultation with Students and its associated guidance. Note that any changes made in-session (i.e. in the current academic year) are classed as exceptional, even if the change itself is minor.

Approval Route Diagram

New Approval Process Diagram - the image outlines the approval route for the PDNP, NPP, exceptional modifications, and programme withdrawals/suspensions/reactivations. All the information is also provided in the two sections below

Major Modifications (College level approval)

Major modifications refer to changes that are significant and may have implications across a number of areas, such as students' learning experience, completion rates, or satisfaction; internal resourcing; planning, etc. Some major modifications will result in the creation of a new programme code. Major modifications include the following:

2a. Withdrawal or introduction of compulsory modules, or other significant modification to the portfolio of compulsory modules available on the programme, including modification to assessments of compulsory modules if the modifications result in a significant change to the overall balance of methods of assessment on the programme.

2b. Introduction of elements of a new delivery mode, for example elements of Distance Learning or adding a flexible or part-time route.

2c. Any modification that might lead to a significant increase in the resource required to deliver a programme and/or the cost to students, for example introduction of a lab-based element or field trip.

2d. Significant modification to the programme title.

2e. Any modification that intends to, or may result in, an increase in the number of students registered on the programme (including making an alternative qualification directly admissible).

2f. Modification of the award, providing the new award is within the same Level in the Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies as the original award, whether directly admissible or not.

2g. Creation of an integrated master’s version of an existing bachelor’s programme, whether directly admissible or not.

2h. Creation of pathways within existing programmes (also see below for additional guidance).

2i. Addition of an intercalated year (e.g. Year in Computer Science).

Minor Modifications (School level approval minimum)

Minor modifications refer to changes that are largely of an administrative or operational nature and should not alter the fundamental character of the programme, i.e. they do not change the learning outcomes of the programme. Minor modifications should have minimal or no impact on students; in many cases current students will not be aware that any change has been made. The following would normally be considered minor modifications:

3a. Modification to the administrative details of a programme.

3b. Minor modification to the programme outcomes/aims/rationale in line with progress in the field.

3c. Addition or removal of optional modules to the portfolio of optional modules available to students. Removal of an optional module can be considered to be a minor change as long as the potential for its removal has been explicitly stated to students when making their decision to accept an offer of study at the institution.

Creating Pathways in Programmes

Creating pathways within a programme, like any other modification, requires a programme modification form, revised programme specification form, and any associated new module documentation.

Whether it is regarded as an exceptional or major modification depends on what sort of pathways you wish to create. The following are the feature of an exceptional modification:

  • Creating separate, directly admissible programmes, with distinct titles and programme codes.
  • The pathway would be shown on the students' transcripts.

The following would be classed as a major modification:

  • Having a generic title with pathways within it; students would only be admitted to that programme.

For major modifications, the programme specification should indicate the different pathways within the programme and the required modules.


Frequently Asked Questions 

The modification I want to make isn't included in the list of examples

Please contact your College Academic Policy Partner, who will be able to advise. Considerations that will be taken into account when ascertaining the classification of modification include the risk involved, whether additional resource is required, and the similarity in content to the existing programme. 

Are there any changes to programmes that do not require approval and/or a programme modification?

There are some small, administrative changes that do not require formal approval, e.g. changes to the programme lead or to the semester in which modules are delivered. These changes can be made via an email to the Curriculum Management Team (ideally with an updated programme specification). 

Moreover, amendments to the specification to clarify existing practice rather to make a change (e.g. adding information to the specification that are not currently captured on the specification) can normally also be made without the need for formal approval - please contact your College Academic Policy Partner for more information. 

How do I modify an existing collaborative programme?

Follow the normal programme modification process, ensuring you consult with the Head of Collaborative Provision (contact details for the Collaborative Provision Office here).

What are the rules for Tier 4 students and adding a placement to a programme?

  • A programme of study for Tier 4 (General) students (or Tier 4 Child students aged 16 or above) may include a work placement provided it is an integral and assessed part of the course.
  • Where the programme is at degree-level, the work placement must not be more than 50% of the total length of the course.
  • The University will be responsible for the student throughout the period of their work placement or year/semester abroad and must comply with all their sponsor duties during this time.
  • The University must continue to fulfil their sponsor duties to monitor the student while they are on their work placement or year/semester abroad.

If adding a placement to a programme, please ensure you refer to the Code of Practice on Placement Learning



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