Internal quality assurance

Quality assurance

'Quality assurance' in the context of higher education relates to two main areas. The first is how an institution manages its academic standards. The second is how it manages the quality of its students' learning opportunities.

Quality enhancement

'Quality enhancement' relates to how an institution looks to improve aspects of its provision.

The School's approach to quality assurance and enhancement is set out in the 'Strategy for Managing Academic Standards and Quality'.

Information about the main procedures set out in the strategy can be found below.

Quality Assurance Handbook

In ‘Enhancing the Student Experience of Assessment at the School’ (AB/32, 3 May 2017 Academic Board) the School committed to conduct a review of assessment regulations and governance during 2017/18. A review of the academic regulations was also required as a result of the decision to introduce in-year resits.

In undertaking the review of the Quality Assurance (QA) processes in 2017/18 (AB/29, 30 May 2018 Academic Board), there was a strong message from the academic community  that some of the centralised oversight of courses and programmes should be devolved to departments.

The decision was taken by the Academic Board to approve the devolution of specified QA responsibilities to Department 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.

The guidance in the Quality Assurance Handbook provides information about what School-level and departmental-level responsibilities look like under the new devolved framework, and sets out further information about the operating environment (i.e. national and School level QA arrangements). The devolved arrangements are designed to offer departments flexibility within the framework, with the option of delegated authority within departments to account for differing governance arrangements.

Quality Assurance Handbook

Programme and course approval

The Undergraduate Studies Sub-Committee (USSC), Graduate Studies Sub-Committee (GSSC) and Research Degrees Sub-Committee (RDSC) review all new course and programme proposals, including new programme streams with distinct admissions entry routes and new programme specialisms on existing degree programmes, as part of the approval process.

External assessors from outside the School also review new programme proposals as part of the process. The external's role is to comment on the appropriateness and rigour of the programme, including its curriculum, its mode of delivery, its assessment methods and its learning outcomes. Externals are also asked to comment on the standard of the programme in relation to relevant QAA subject characteristics and subject benchmark statements and the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.

New course proposals set out how the course will be taught, the types of assessment students will need to complete, and the learning outcomes they will achieve. They also give details about which students can sit the course, depending on their programme.

Consideration by the relevant Education Committee Sub-Committee (USSC, GSSC, RDSC)

The main purpose of the process is to ensure that:

  1. New course and programme proposals do not overlap significantly with existing courses or programmes elsewhere in the School;
  2. All new taught provision is academically robust, well-structured and pedagogically sound;
  3. The course or programme takes account of all relevant internal and external reference points;
  4. Threshold academic standards are met;
  5. Appropriate student learning opportunities are available;
  6. The information provided to students about their studies is complete with regard to content, structure, learning outcomes, modes of assessment;
  7. The course or programme does not contravene any established School regulations or policies.

For more detailed information about the course and programme approval process see: courses and programmes.

Periodic review of taught provision

The Education Committee is responsible for quality assurance and enhancement. One of the ways it discharges this responsibility is by reviewing academic departments periodically.

The reviews take place about every five years for each department. Review teams identify examples of good practice in departments and share them across the School. They also flag any concerns about standards and make recommendations to departments for addressing them.

Periodic reviews focus on four main areas

1. Academic standards:
How can the School be justified in having confidence in the academic standards of the department's programmes (including any collaborative provision), and in the quality of the learning opportunities it offers to students? The primary evidence for this section will be the data set TQARO provides on student performance, as well as teaching surveys and external examiner reports.

2. Quality assurance:
How does the department implement the quality assurance measures required of it under paragraph 8 of the 'Strategy for managing academic standards and quality'?
To what extent does it make use of external reference points (e.g. the qualifications frameworks, characteristics statementssubject benchmark statements and professional, statutory or regulatory body guidelines)?
If it offers any collaborative provision, what steps does it take to satisfy the School's requirements for collaborative provision?

3. Quality enhancement:
How does the department seek to enhance the quality of its provision? The primary evidence for this section will be found in annual programme monitoring reports and Teaching Committee minutes, along with the department's Self-Evaluation Document.

4. Student views:
How does the department consider its students' views on teaching, and how - if appropriate - does it act on them? The primary evidence for this section will be the SSLC minutes.

Previous review reports

Please see the list of previous review reports under the current ASC review process.

Please contact Tom Hewlett,, with any queries about the review process.

External examiner system

External Examiners play an important role in helping the School to assure the standards of its awards and the quality of its students' learning opportunities. They are academics from peer institutions who are experts in their fields. Externals are nominated by departments and appointed (and annually re-appointed) according to School rules.

They perform a number of quality-related tasks for the School:

  • Each year all external examiners submit a report about the LSE courses and programmes that fall under their purview. These reports comment on academic standards in relation both to student performance and to the relevant level in the Quality Assurance Agency's Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.
  • These reports also comment on the integrity and rigour of the School's assessment processes.
  • Externals also sample a range of examination scripts and other assessed work to ensure that marking standards are appropriate. Externals review School decisions about student academic appeals.

Further information about external examiners can be found in the 'Duties and responsibilities of the external examiner' section of the Instructions for Examiners handbook (PDF).

Teaching surveys

The School surveys students about their teaching in the Michaelmas and Lent Terms. The questions ask students about their class/seminar teaching, about their lectures, and about their courses as a whole.  Students are also invited to provide overall comments on the positive and negative aspects of the teaching they are receiving.

Please visit the Surveys page for more information.


 Last reviewed: October 2018