Modifications to existing courses and programmes

 

Following the review of Quality Assurance (QA) processes in 2017/18, specified QA responsibilities were devolved to Departmental Teaching Committees (DTCs) as of 2018/19, reflecting the academic community’s agreement to take on greater responsibility and accountability for the quality assurance of, and accurate information about, the School’s taught provision.

TQARO is responsible for the facilitation of all changes to courses and programmes in order to assure the accuracy of the information published in the LSE Calendar. For any enquiries relating to the information below or in the Quality Assurance Handbook, please email ard.capis@lse.ac.uk.

Information on modifications to existing courses and programmes, including DTC decision making, reporting, scheduling and implementation, can be found in Sections 11-16 of the Quality Assurance Handbook.

Decision making authority for the main types of modifications

A summary of the devolved Quality Assurance decision making process is detailed below. Please see the table of modifications and devolved responsibilities for a quick overview of each type of modification or decision.

For DTC decision

DTCs are responsible for the oversight of 'major' modifications to courses and programmes and other devolved responsibilities with the 'major' designation. These are modifications which have a substantial impact on students, and may need to be reflected in information made available to prospective students, and as such, may be considered 'material information' by the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA). Major modifications should be considered locally by a course convenor, programme director or programme team, and would normally require consideration and approval by the DTC, or by specific roles with delegated authority to make decisions on behalf of the DTC. Please see Section 16 of the Quality Assurance Handbook for more information on major modifications. A list of major modifications requiring DTC decision is provided below:
  • Change core course availability to optional (or vice versa)
  • Change optional course availability to semi-core
  • Adding/removing a core or semi-core course from a programme
  • Change to course level (core or semi-core courses)
  • Change to course unit value (core or semi-core courses)
  • Splitting a full unit course into two half units (core or semi-core courses)
  • Change to course title (core or semi-core courses)
  • Change to course code (all courses)
  • Change to summative assessment (see LSE's Principles of Assessment)
  • Programme duration
  • Programme mode of attendance
  • Programme structure (within established norms)
  • Programme title
  • Programme unit value (within established norms)
  • Suspension or withdrawal of a core or semi-core course
  • Suspension or withdrawal of a programme
  • Addition of overseas exchange option, overseas travel or visiting students option

For USSC/GSSC/RDSC Chair’s action (following DTC endorsement)

DTCs have oversight of the following major decisions, with further consideration required by the chair of the relevant Education Committee Sub-Committee for final approval:

  • Suspension of regulations
  • Shared UG/PGT teaching
  • Marking practice
  • GTA appointment for PGT course
  • Class/seminar size exemption
  • Forth consecutive course suspension (all courses)
  • Changes to research programmes affecting ESRC accreditation
  • Changes to research programmes affecting progression/upgrade

For USSC/GSSC/RDSC consideration (following DTC endorsement)

All new provision must be considered by the relevant Education Committee Sub-Committee. Proposals for new courses, programmes and streams/specialisms require initial endorsement by the DTC and consultation with SSLC, prior to being submitted for Sub-Committee consideration. Sub-Committees consider the following types of proposal:

  • New course proposals
  • New programme proposals
  • New programme stream
  • New programme specialism
  • New collaborative / exchange provision
  • External Examiner nomination

No formal committee approval required

'Minor' modifications can be made locally by a course convenor, programme director or programme team without need for further approval by the DTC (unless required by local practice). Minor changes will usually need to be reflected in the course guide, programme regulations or Moodle/departmental handbook and would normally be processed as part of the annual course guide review and other standard reporting mechanisms via TQARO or Timetables for example. Please see Section 16 of the Quality Assurance Handbook for more information on minor modifications. Some minor modifications will require consultation with other departments, such as adding or removing courses from a programme, adjusting pre-requisites, course title changes or suspension/withdrawal of courses listed on other departments' programme regulations. A list of minor modifications is provided below:

  • Adding/removing an optional course from a programme
  • General Course availability
  • Outside option availability
  • Mutually exclusive courses
  • Course content
  • Course level/title/unit value (optional courses)
  • Exam format
  • Formative coursework
  • Prerequisites
  • Reading lists
  • Teacher responsible
  • Teaching arrangements
  • Splitting a full unit course into two half units (optional courses)
  • Suspension of an optional course
  • Withdrawal of an optional course

Other approval required

The following changes are processed by the Student Services Centre (SSC) and should be submitted by their published deadlines:

* Assessment policies for deferral, exceptional circumstances and extensions are under review and subject to change.

Schedule and timing

Departments can make major modifications to courses and programmes according to the schedule by which the information is published to students in the prospectus and the Calendar. 

The table below provides a summary of the schedule by which DTC decisions must be made and communicated to TQARO: 

1. Major changes affecting published information in the Prospectus and Calendar

For example:

Programmes: modifications to structure, programme title, duration, suspensions and withdrawals. 

Core and semi-core courses: title, level, unit value, availability, suspensions and withdrawals.

Timing of implementation:

To coincide with the next prospectus publication. For example, UG changes confirmed in November 2019, or PGT and PGR changes confirmed in May 2020, will be implemented in the 2021/22 academic session.

Deadline for DTC decision: 

Undergraduate: End of November for communication to TQARO by the end of Michaelmas term. 

Taught master’s: End of April for communication to TQARO by the annual course guide review deadline on 11 May 2020

Research: End of April for communication to TQARO by the annual course guide review deadline on 11 May 2020

2. Major changes not affecting published informaton in the Prospectus, but affecting the Calendar

For example:

Summative assessment and course codes.

Deadline for DTC decision:

End of annual course guide review (11 May 2020).

Timing of implementation:

The next academic session.

3. Major changes not affecting published information in either the Prospectus or Calendar

For example:

Suspension of regulations, shared teaching, marking practice, GTA appointment for PGT course and class/ seminar size exemption.

Deadline for DTC decision:

See the table of modifications and devolved responsibilities for specific deadlines.

Timing of implementation:

The next or current academic session, depending on timing of request.

4. Minor modifications to courses

For example:

Optional courses: title, level, unit value and availability.

All courses: course content, formative coursework, pre-requisites, reading list, teacher responsible and teaching arrangements (changes to teaching arrangements should match exactly with information already submitted in timetabling returns).

Deadline for DTC decision:

End of annual course guide review (11 May 2020).

Timing of implementation:

The next academic session.

5. Suspension or withdrawal of an optional course

For example:

Any suspension or withdrawal of an optional course.

Deadline for DTC decision:

End of LT.

Timing of implementation:

The next academic session.

6. Other changes

For example:

External examiner nomination, intercollegiate course, late course change, programme transfer, deferrals and timetable clash (UG).

Deadline for DTC decision:

See the table of modifications and devolved responsibilities for specific deadlines.

Timing of implementation:

The next or current academic session, depending on timing of request.

7. In-cycle changes **

**In extenuating circumstances, DTCs may consider proposals for in-cycle changes for the upcoming academic session.

'In-cycle' refers to any major change within the marketing, recruitment and admissions cycle.  This is the period of time either after the publication of information for students such as in the prospectus or after applications have opened for prospective students, and before the start of the academic year and the registration of students on to the programmes of study or course being modified. 

In these cases the department is required to consult with TQARO first and only if the proposed changes are agreed for implementation, and approved by DTC, would all offer-holders need to be notified of the change. Consultation with TQARO before DTC consideration is strongly recommended due to the complexities that can arise from ‘in-cycle’ changes. 

For example:

Any major changes affecting published information in the Prospectus as per point 1 above.

Deadline for DTC decision:

Before offers are communicated to prospective students.

Timing of implementation:

The next academic session.

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) sets out the consumer rights of students. The consumer rights issue which is directly affected by course and programme modifications relates to ‘information provision’ and the need for universities to provide up front, clear, intelligible, unambiguous and timely information for students.Changes made to courses and programmes may affect ‘material information’ which according to the CMA is information which allows students to make “an informed choice about which universities and courses to apply for”. This includes information such as programme title, core modules, programme composition and assessment. Please keep in mind the impact of the CMA guidelines on any proposals which are submitted for course and programme changes. Changes which do not provide students with sufficient time to consider their options, namely those proposed outside of the School’s established timelines for the proposal and modification of taught provision, will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Full details of the CMA guidance can be found in the Higher education: guide to consumer rights for students.

Updated programme information

A summary of approved course and programme updates is available for students. It is intended to give them an overview of new provision and changes to existing provision:

The Calendar holds a complete set of information about the courses and programmes available in each year, and the academic regulations that underpin them. This information is available in full for the current academic year and previous academic years. We also supply summary information about significant changes for future years:

For Undergraduates - 2020/21 and 2021/22
For Taught Master's - 2020/21 and 2021/22

If departments have any queries about the information contained on this page or in the relevant section of the Quality Assurance Handbook please contact TQARO at ard.capis@lse.ac.uk.