Curriculum Approval, Accreditation, Monitoring, Review and Improvement Policy

Policy Learning and Teaching Curriculum Approval, Accreditation, Monitoring, Review and Improvement Policy

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Intent

This policy specifies the principles for the approval of new curricula and of changes to existing curricula and ensure all James Cook University (JCU) academic courses of study are accredited and reviewed appropriately in line with the Higher Education Standards Framework (2015)

Scope

This policy applies to all academic and professional staff responsible for the approval of new curricula and of changes to existing curricula, including award, non-award, and enabling courses approved by the University’s Academic Board or delegated authority.

Definitions

Definition of terms for this policy are as per those listed in the Policy Glossary, with the following additions:

Accreditation: approval of curricula by the Academic Board. JCU is authorised under the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) Act 2011 to self-accredit each course of study that leads to a higher education qualification that it offers or confers. A course of study that is self-accredited may also be ‘accredited’ by a professional body for different and separate purposes (see definition of “professional accreditation”).

Amendment: the process of changing the award requirements of an existing course, or changing the attributes of an existing major, minor, stream or subject.

Availabilities: approved offerings of a course or subject defined by location, year, study period, and delivery (attendance) mode. Availabilities are set up in the Student Management System to facilitate the admission of students to courses and the enrolment of students in subjects.

Approval: confirmation that the proposed changes may be implemented as described in the proposal. The responsible entity required to give approval will vary depending on the nature and scope of impact of the proposed change. Academic Board may delegate responsibility for approval according to the Academic and Student Delegations Register.

Award: a degree, diploma or certificate contained in the list of approved Awards of James Cook University.

Award requirements: the set of academic requirements which are mandatory for the award associated with the course to be conferred.

Comprehensive Academic Course Review: refers to an evaluation of course which includes the design and content of each course of study, expected learning outcomes, the methods for assessment of those outcomes, the extent of students’ achievement of learning outcomes, and also takes account of emerging developments in the field of education, modes of delivery, the changing needs of students and identified risks to the quality of the course of study.

Course: an approved Higher Education Award of the University, consisting of an integrated set of discrete learning units within a curriculum which may be comprised of core and elective subjects, majors, minors or streams. Courses are defined by award requirements which determine study plans for individual students. Upon completion of a study plan a student will be admitted as graduate of a prescribed degree with a testamur certified by the University Chancellor.

Course and Subject Handbook: the consolidated statement of all course and subject offerings of the University, produced annually and published on-line.

Course Coordinator: an academic with responsibilities for the management of the curriculum and quality of teaching, learning and assessment in a specific award program.

Course Performance Reports (CPRs): Annual reports completed for each undergraduate and postgraduate course by the Course Coordinator (as defined in the Course Performance Reports and Division Academic Program Reports Policy).

Curricula: refers to coursework and research programs and subjects, and their availabilities.

Curriculum: is the overarching layout for a path of study referring to the philosophies and intention, delivery methods and outcomes of a course; more specifically the learning goals, teaching and assessment methods, course content and learning activities (as defined in the Learning, Teaching and Assessment Policy).

Discontinuation: to cease offering a program or subject to new students. A discontinuation is not finalised until all continuing students have completed the award requirements (or are AWOL or have withdrawn from the course).

Division Academic Program Reports (DAPRs): Annual reports completed by the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor identifying key strengths, weaknesses and priorities for the following year as identified from the Division’s suite of Course Performance Reports (as defined in the Course Performance Reports and Division Academic Program Reports Policy).

Enabling course: a program of study which does not lead to an award of the University, which is aimed at preparing students for university studies. Enabling subjects are not eligible for credit towards another course.

Major: an approved sequence of subjects in a discipline or cognate group of disciplines. A major in an undergraduate course usually consists of 24 credit points (8 subjects or 1 EFTSL), and may form part of a course structure (e.g. BSc in Ecology).

Minor: an approved sequence of subjects in a discipline or cognate group of disciplines. A minor consists of 12 credit points of subjects (usually 4 subjects or 0.5.EFTSL), and may form part of a course structure in an undergraduate course.

Non-award course: a course offered by the University for which no Award is conferred upon successful completion.

Offerings: another term for availabilities.

Professional accreditation: required for course graduates to be registered or otherwise licensed to practice in a regulated profession.

Program: a collective noun that applies to a grouping of subjects that has structure e.g. a course, major, minor, stream, or coursework component of a research degree.

Stream: an approved sequence of subjects in a postgraduate discipline or cognate group of disciplines. A stream may comprise an entire postgraduate course (e.g. Graduate Certificate of Science in Marine Biology and Ecology), or may form part of a course structure in a postgraduate course (e.g. Master of Rehabilitation in Physiotherapy).

Structure: a coherent group of subjects (and majors, minors or streams, if applicable) that together form a Student Study Plan for a course. Programs (courses, majors, minors and streams) all have structure. A subject does not.

Student Management System (SMS): including eAcademic and eStudent, SMS is a software application that manages student and curriculum data.

Subjects: specific units of study within a course usually designated by year level and discipline. Subjects maybe determined as core, introductory, capstone, advanced, and electives. These individual units of study are the building blocks of course structure and will develop skills, concepts, approaches and capacities which contribute to the graduate attributes and qualities.

Suspension: the process of making a program unavailable to commencing students for a defined period of time of between one and three years. (Not offering a program for a period of less than one year is managed through deleting availabilities).

Principles

Curriculum approval and self-accreditation processes are designed to meet institutional quality assurance requirements as expressed in the Higher Education Standards Framework, and to assist the University to respond in a timely manner to new opportunities that arise.

Curriculum approvals will be based on an assessment of:

  • alignment with the JCU Strategic Intent and JCU Offer Strategy
  • opportunities and risks
  • resourcing and capability
  • good practice curriculum design
  • learning and teaching
  • evidence-informed monitoring and review.

Consideration of curriculum approvals will be guided by:

  • current legislation, rules, policies and principles relevant to their design, delivery, management and quality assurance
  • alignment of subject learning outcomes and assessment with course learning outcomes
  • matters of equity and diversity, flexibility of delivery, and entry and exit pathways
  • scholarship and industry requirements
  • sustainability of course structures
  • cyclical course reviews
  • external benchmarking
  • professional accreditation standards and requirements where applicable. These may include:
    • recognition of graduates by employers;
    • graduate employment mobility and eligibility for professional body membership;
    • independent quality assurance and enhancement;
    • opportunities for comparisons against national and internationally endorsed standards; and
    • reputational benefits that flow from the above

All academic courses will be accredited and reviewed in line with:

  • TEQSA and Australian Quality Framework (AQF) requirements.
  • participation in the university’s quality management activities, including but not limited to:
    • Annual course review (Course Performance Reporting);and
    • Internal comprehensive review.
  • Divisions taking responsibility to ensure all course review requirements (internal and external) are met.  Division governance responsibility rests with the Division Board of Study.

Policy

  1. Coursework courses, majors and streams (including their availabilities) are owned by nominated University Divisions. The nominated Division will be responsible for the governance and administration of their design, approval, monitoring, review and improvement.
  2. Coursework subjects and minors (including their availabilities) are owned by a nominated College or Directorate. Those offered across Colleges are owned by a nominated Division. The nominated College (or Division) will be responsible for the governance and administration of their design, approval, monitoring, review and improvement.
  3. The Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Philosophy are University degrees. These courses (including their availabilities) are managed by the Research Education Sub-Committee (RESC), in conjunction with Academic Divisions.
  4. Named research courses, and postgraduate research projects of 12 credit points or more within coursework streams, are owned by Academic Divisions and managed by the Research Education Sub-Committee (RESC), in conjunction with Academic Divisions.
  5. Introduction of new curricula (including availabilities), and discontinuation, suspension or amendment of existing curricula (including availabilities), requires formal approval as per the JCU Academic and Student Delegations Register.
  6. The level of approval required for specific curriculum changes is detailed in the JCU Academic and Student Delegations Register.
  7. The Course and Subject Handbook is the authoritative source of information on curricula offered by the University. Any other business units’ publications that provide information about these programs must refer to the handbook as the authoritative information source.
  8. All courses of study are subject to periodic (at least every seven years) Comprehensive Academic Course Reviews that are overseen by academic governance processes, and are informed and supported by regular interim monitoring (e.g. annual Course Performance Reports and Division Academic Program Reports), including external referencing or other benchmarking activities.
  9. Divisions will determine if a course will seek External Professional Accreditation. All   External Professional Accreditation submissions, outcomes and responses, will be subject to the University’s quality enhancement framework, are approved, monitored and reviewed at senior levels within Colleges and through to Academic Board.

Related policy instruments

Administration

Approval Details

Policy Sponsor

Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic

Approval Authority

Academic Board

Version Number17-1

Date for next review

14/03/2020

Revision History

Version

Approval date

Implementation date

Details

Author

17-118/03/201718/04/2017Major Review - Curriculum Approval , Monitoring, Review Improvement Policy renamed to Curriculum Approval, Accreditation, Monitoring, Review and Improvement Policy, Inclusion of HESF 2015 clause 6.1.3d in its intent, along with added details in clause 8, incorporation of Accreditation (Professional) of Courses and/or Disciplines Policy in clause 9. Chair Academic Board and Manager, Quality Standards and Policy

16-1

14/03/2016

26/05/2016

Major review of Courses, Majors and Subjects Approval Process Policy – re-named: Curriculum Approval Monitoring, Review and Improvement Policy. Procedures moved to a separate document.

Manager, CIMS

14-1

27/05/2014

 

Roles amended to reflect organisation re-structure

Policy Officer

12-2

17/10/12

23/10/12

Minor amendments: references throughout policy to HDRSC - Higher Degrees by Research Sub-Committee replaced with: RESC – Research Education Sub Committee.

 

12-1

12/03/2012

13/03/2012

Amendments to Sections 5 and 6

 

11-1

05/07/2011

06/07/2011

  

10-1

01/11/2010

02/11/2010

  

09-1

20/07/2009

21/07/2009

  

07-1

5/11/2007

6/11/2007

  

04-1

29/10/2004

30/10/2004

Approved by Council

 

97-1

07/08/1997

08/08/1997

Approved by Council

 

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