Strategy for managing academic standards

This paper sets out how the School assures the quality of its teaching, learning and assessment activity. As the awarding body, LSE must be in a position to assure the standards of its degrees. At the same time, the School believes that the design of quality assurance should respect different departmental cultures and academic histories.

In its discussion of previous versions of this strategy the Academic Board affirmed its belief that the School offers high-quality teaching through traditional pedagogic structures and in an environment of cutting edge research in the Social Sciences. The arrangements set out in this strategy reflect that belief.

The School believes that the following principles should inform its approach to quality assurance:

  • quality assurance should not detract from or become a substitute for quality;
  • quality assurance operates at the departmental level, with the responsibilities that this entails (including resolving short-term breakdowns and gathering and using regular feedback on courses and programmes), within a broader context where the Academic Board has collective responsibility for the standard of the School's academic awards, with delegated responsibility given to the Education Committee for matters relating to teaching, learning and asssessment, student experience and quality assurance/enhancement;
  • the exercise of these departmental responsibilities should be collective, through Departmental Teaching Committees (DTC);
  • quality assurance should be a preliminary to quality enhancement and a greater proportion of energy and resource should be devoted to the latter;
  • good quality internal evidence, including student opinion, external examiner reports and student performance data, should be used to support quality assurance and enhancement processes;
  • the findings from quality assurance should be made public in such a way as to share different practices and innovations across departments and to show students that quality is taken seriously;
  • departmental teaching, learning and assessment practices should be subject to review, for example through use of teaching observation, as a means of assuring quality, of aiding staff development and of sharing different practice;
  • the School must be in a position to demonstrate its standards to its students and their families/sponsors.

The School's core practices for delivering this strategy include:

1. a system of initial programme approval, with input from the providers of resource-based services (including the SCC, Library, DTS and the Academic Planning and Resources Committee) and including an external assessor's report, to be conducted by the School's central academic bodies and Department Teaching Committees;

2. a system of initial course approval, with input from the providers of resource-based services and conducted by the School's central academic bodies and Department Teaching Committees;

3. a system of approval of major modifications to programmes and courses, conducted by the School's central academic bodies and Department Teaching Committees;

4. a system of central review of departmental taught provision every five years or so, informed by available evidence, including student views, the main purposes being to promote development, identify and disseminate good practice, and to flag any concerns over standards to departments, without adjudicating on them;

5. a system of gaining student feedback on their teaching and learning experience in the School;

6. periodic review by the School's academic bodies of its internal Codes of Practice; and

7. due and appropriate consideration of national quality assurance requirements through Department Teaching Committees and the School's committee structure.

Departments should have the following arrangements in place for assuring their quality and standards. These reflect departmental core practices and must be demonstrated by all departments:

8.1.  Staff-Student Liaison Committees for all students that meet at least once per term, with minutes of meetings produced and circulated to staff and students;

8.2.  Departmental Staff meetings that involve all staff, meet at least three times per academic year, and consider information from any other extant departmental committees. Minutes should be produced and circulated to staff;

8.3.  A Department Teaching Committee that involves appropriate departmental staff and students as defined by the DTC terms of reference, meets at least once per term and considers all aspects of departmental learning and teaching, including new programme and course proposals and modifications to existing programmes and courses. Minutes should be produced and circulated to members;

8.4.  A system for ensuring the effective participation in School-level periodic monitoring and review exercises as required by the Education Committee;

8.5.  A system for considering course and programme results annually, and revising taught provision as appropriate;

8.6.  A system for considering feedback from student course survey results annually, and revising taught provision as appropriate;

8.7.  A system for considering external examiners' reports, and acting on them, on an annual basis, with the School having an associated responsibility (a) to ensure that the system functions and (b) for any School-wide lessons on both good practice and areas of concern from the reports collectively to be considered and acted on as appropriate.

8.8   A system for monitoring compliance with baseline requirements to build on teaching standards, academic support, and assessment and feedback as defined by the Academic Code, including consideration of enhancements to practice resulting from analysis of related data.


Updated October 2018