Proposing, Modifying, and Withdrawing Modules

The below forms and guidance are to be used in the process of proposing, modifying, and withdrawing modules. Module proposal and modification forms must be submitted with a module specification form, which should be amended to show the changes in the case of modifications. For module withdrawals, no module specification is required. 

Each section below outlines the different approval routes: module proposals and withdrawals always require College-level approval in addition to School approval, whereas modifications in some Colleges only require School approval.

When making changes to the suite of modules offered to students, please ensure you adhere to the deadlines that have been established to comply with guidance created by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), usually the January before delivery for optional modules, and the June that is 15 months before delivery for compulsory modules.

Guidance and Forms 

Proposing New Modules

To create a new module, a module proposal form must be completed and accompanied by a module specification. The specification outlines the module’s content, including its learning outcomes and assessment.

All module proposals require approval by the School Education Committee (or equivalent) and then by the College Quality Assurance and Approval Committee (CQAAC), to ensure that any potential resource implications are thoroughly scrutinised.

Once approved by CQAAC, the proposal can be passed to the Curriculum Management Team so the module can be created in Banner; they will send a confirmation email once the module has been set up.

Modifying Existing Modules

To modify an existing module, a module modification form must be completed. This must be accompanied by the module’s current specification form, on which the required changes should be clearly marked, by either using tracked changes or striking through deletions and underlining insertions. This is so the Curriculum Management Team know which module information to alter in the Banner records system.

All module modifications need to be approved by the School Education Committee (or equivalent). Some Colleges also require approval by CQAAC (usually by Chair’s Action); please contact your College Academic Policy Partner if you are unsure of the practice in your College.

When making changes to modules, please ensure you adhere to the deadlines created to comply with guidance created by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). This is usually the January before delivery for optional modules, and the June that is 15 months before delivery for compulsory modules.

Not all changes require formal approval; changes to the semester in which the module is delivered and to the module lead can be made simply by emailing the Curriculum Management Team. Changes to formative assessment also do not require formal approval; any changes to formative assessment should be made by administrative staff in your School/Institute (a revised specification can be sent to CMT for their records once the changes have been made locally).

Withdrawing Existing Modules

This requires the completion of a module withdrawal form (and no module specification). It is possible to withdraw multiple modules using one withdrawal form, provided the rationale is the same, e.g. modules being withdrawn because they are consistently low-recruiting.  

All module withdrawals require approval by the School Education Committee (or equivalent) and CQAAC. 

Microcredentials

The University of Birmingham and FutureLearn are working together to deliver a new online microcredential short course portfolio targeting CPD topics in high demand.

If you have an idea for a microcredential please contact your College DL/Digital Lead and Director of Education. An Approval in Principle form will need to be completed and submitted to micro@contacts.bham.ac.uk for consideration by the Short Course & Microcredentials Steering Group.

Once the AiP is approved, the course can proceed to module approval using the Microcredential Proposal and Specification form (available below). If you have any questions, please email micro@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

Forms

Module Proposal/Modification and Specification form (DOC - 76KB)

Module Proposal/Modification form (DOC - 63KB) (for modules with existing specifications).

Module Withdrawal form (DOC - 54KB).

Microcredential Proposal form (DOC - 80KB).

Additional forms, including the Placement Proposal form to add a placement, e.g. a year/semester abroad or industrial placement, to a new or existing programme, can be found on the form bank. (If a year/semester abroad is being added, a module proposal and specification form must be completed in addition to the Placement Proposal form, as a module code will need to be generated for the placement).

  

Frequently Asked Questions

Making Changes to Modules

Do all changes need approval?

No, changes to the semester in which the module is delivered and to the module lead can be made simply by emailing the Curriculum Management Team. Changes to formative assessment also do not require formal approval; any changes to formative assessment should be made by administrative staff in your School/Institute (a revised specification can be sent to CMT for their records once the changes have been made locally).

Which changes will result in the creation of a new module code?

Changes to the module’s name, level (i.e. LC, LI, LH etc.), and credit value will result in the generation of a new module code. It is therefore imperative that the deadlines for module development are adhered to, as missing these deadlines could have implications not only for compliance with CMA guidance but also operationally, i.e. for timetabling. If a late change that will result in the generation of a new module code is being proposed, please consider whether the change can be postponed. 

What happens if I want to make a change to a module after the CMA deadline?

Meeting the CMA deadlines means that changes can be made without needing to consult students/applicants (although it is good practice to always consult students about changes to provision). If the deadlines (the end of Jan for optional modules, the end of June for compulsory modules) are missed, then consultation must take place with the following groups:

  • Current and prospective students - for changes to module title, credit value, level, contact hours, significant changes to learning outcomes, assessment (e.g. changing a module entirely assessed by an essay to be assessed by an exam), and significant changes to the module description, i.e. any changes that mean the module differs from what the student is/was expecting.
  • College Marketing need to be informed/consulted with to ensure that marketing literature, factsheets, and communications with students regarding the module/programme are updated - for changes to module title, credit value, level, contact hours, learning outcomes, assessment (if the change is significant), and module description.
  • Partner Schools/Colleges - for changes to module title, credit value, level, contact hours, learning outcomes, assessment, module description, and semester of delivery. (Consultation with other Schools/Colleges who offer the module on their programmes should always take place, regardless of when the change is being made).
  • Central Timetabling - if the change will generate a new module code (see above) or the semester of delivery is being changed. 
  • Central Exams - only for in-session changes, if assessment codes and exam room bookings need to be amended. 

Why do the forms require me to contact Taught/Research Student Administration?

Taught or Research Student Administration in Registry will be able to inform you of any students who have the right to retrieve a failure in any module that is being withdrawn. As students, in some instances, are permitted to defer reassessment, full withdrawal of the module might have to be delayed until they have exercised their right to a resit attempt.

What is an in-session change?

This is any change to a module or programme that takes place in the current academic session. As these changes carry a high risk, they require verification by the Chair of the University Quality Assurance Committee, following approval by the School and College (the same forms are used as normal). The rationale for any in-session changes needs to be very strong, e.g. making the change will have a clear benefit to the student experience. 

If I'm making the same change to a suite of modules do I have to submit separate modification forms?

No - one modification form can be used to cover numerous modules to explain the changes and rationale. Separate specifications are required, however.

Similarly, multiple modules can be withdrawn on one withdrawal form, if the rationale is the same.

Module Specifications

What is a pre-/co-requisite module?

A pre-requisite module is one that students must have taken in a previous academic session in order to be eligible to register on the later, higher module. (A pre-requisite module would not be a compulsory module, as students are registered on these automatically).

Note that students simply need to have attempted the pre-requisite module, rather than pass it. Failing a pre-requisite module would not have implications for progression and a student would not be required to wait for resits before registering on the higher module.

Schools can specifically mention in the programme requirements and progression documents that a particular module has to be passed if that is necessary because the knowledge cannot be obtained elsewhere during the year/will have detrimental effect on the following study. Alternatively, such modules could simply be made compulsory. 

A co-requisite module is a module on which students have to register at the same time as another module (in the same academic session), but not pass before undertaking the other, i.e. students cannot take one without the other. Again, these would not be compulsory modules as students are automatically registered on these. 

How do I record if my module has an exception from the semesterised teaching year structure?

The module specification form includes a question on whether the module has an approved exemption from Regulations, including exceptions relating to the semesterised teaching year structure. This structure requires modules to be generally 20 credits (with some exceptions) and to be taught and assessed in the same semester.

Some modules have approved exceptions, e.g. to allow them to have a different credit structure or to be delivered outside the normal semester structure. If a module has an approved exception, please detail this in the relevant section of the module specification (or if you're using an older template, simply add a row if required).

If the programme as a whole has an exception, this does not need to be detailed on each module specification; rather, it should be outlined in the relevant section of the programme specification. On the module specifications, simply write, e.g., ‘Approved programme level exception, see programme specification for details’.

If you wish to request a new exception, this will require the completion of a form with College and UoB-level approval. Your College Academic Policy Partner can provide guidance on this.

There is more information on the semesterised structure here.

How should I approach the contact hours section and how does this work for Distance Learning modules?

All modules, including those delivered via Distance Learning, should include a breakdown of contact hours, e.g. the number of hours in lectures, seminars etc. (hover over each type of contact on the module specification for a definition). 

Note that each credit amounts to 1 hour of 'student effort', so a 20 credit module should have 200 hours total, the majority of which will be made up of 'guided independent study', i.e. work undertaken by students outside contact hours, such as revision, work towards an essay, research etc. 

It is left to the module leader’s discretion as to what contact time is most appropriate for the subject. Some departments may have a standard number of contact hours across their modules to ensure consistency, e.g. 20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars for a UG module, but there is freedom with this as long as the total amount of student effort adds up to the correct number of hours for the credit value.

For modules delivered via Distance Learning, the total student effort should be stated as usual and module leaders should put contact hours and some freetext commentary in the individual contact hours boxes to explain how the module will be delivered (note the hours can be indicative only), e.g.:

  • Lecture: 'Approx. 10 hours of video lectures plus 19 hours of teaching material (1 hour per unit)'; '16 hours of content presented via Canvas, including video material'; '20 hours of online asynchronous lectures and online interactive activities'. 
  • Seminar: '4 hours of live seminar'; '8 online synchronous seminars with mandatory attendance'.
  • Tutorial: '3 hours, via online contact'; '12 hours of tutor support through discussion'; 'Students must attend 2 online synchronous assessment 'clinics''.
  • Project supervision: '8 hours supervision on dissertation project'.

The remaining hours would be included in guided independent study as usual.

Can I give students on a module a choice of assessment?

Yes, within limits. Students could have the option to choose between, e.g., a 2000-word blog post or an essay, a literature review or a presentation, as long as the School and College are satisfied that the module paperwork demonstrates: a sound pedagogic reason for giving students the choice; that the options would require equivalent student effort; and that either assessment would allow students to meet the module’s learning outcomes. The choices would also have to be made clear to the students.

Due to the complexity of organising centrally timetabled exams, this could not be one of the options; to provide students with the opportunity to choose an exam, it would have to be timetabled internally (and it would be up to the School/College to decide if there was sufficient resource to allow this).

Where can I access module specifications?

The Curriculum Management Team have a record of all module specifications, which can be requested from them. Moreover, Schools are strongly encouraged to maintain their own copies of the module specifications. 

 

   

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