Guidance on writing the programme specification

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Last Updated: December 2016


The programme specification forms the basis of programme documentation. Programme specifications should provide an overview of the programme. They will be underpinned by more detailed information that will be found in module descriptions and staff and student handbooks.
When drafting or updating the programme specification, programme teams should make use of the Design and Delivery Framework, the Assessment and Feedback Framework and, for undergraduate programmes, the Roehampton Graduate Attributes, incorporating the principles into the programme. The starting point should be the programme and the aims and learning outcomes. All modules should be designed to meet the learning outcomes of the programme.

Determining the programme learning outcomes

There are a number of sources of information that programme teams should refer to when developing programme learning outcomes, such as:

  • institutional policies on, for example, Roehampton Graduate Attributes, personal development planning, enhancing employability

  • QAA Subject Benchmark Statements, The Benchmark Statement should be used as a point of comparison, a stimulus to reflection and a reference against which individual programme specifications may be justified

  • information provided by Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (where applicable);

  • information about occupational standards in fields where this is relevant;

  • the QAA FHEQ qualification and the SEEC level descriptors. The SEEC Credit Level Descriptors should be used as a more detailed supplement to the FHEQ qualification descriptors when writing learning outcomes at module level. The FHEQ qualification descriptors are for guidance on learning outcomes at programme level; the SEEC descriptors do however give good advice on the separation of learning outcomes into the knowledge and understanding / cognitive / transferable / key skill areas.

Completion of the programme specification

Final award and programme title, FHEQ level, credits e.g. BSc Psychology, Level 6, 360 credits
FHEQ level: This should be levels, foundation year, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8.
Rationale: This section should explain why the programme is offered, along with the identity of the market and fit with university / Department strategies. The particular distinctiveness of the programme along with its particular features should be added.
Career and graduate progression opportunities: This section should state how the programme will prepare students for employment.
Programme aims: The programme aims should be listed here. Some considerations could be:

  1. Does the programme particularly support individuals in fulfilling their personal goals, their intellectual or creative potential?

  2. Does the programme aim to prepare students for a particular profession / vocation?

  3. Does it prepare students for a range of professions/ careers, which can be identified?

  4. Are any groups of students who have been under-represented in traditional HE provision particularly welcomed / well represented / supported by the programme?

  5. What areas of research / independent work does the programme particularly prepare students for pursuing after their programme is complete?

  6. Are there any specific local / national / international needs which students who successfully complete the programme will meet?

Learning outcomes: The outcomes should be informed by the Subject Benchmark Statements/PSRB requirements (where relevant). If there are interim exit awards, for example, a postgraduate diploma, the learning outcomes should be divided to reflect which of the outcomes students will achieve.
Curriculum map: This is the programme structure listing all modules with code, title, credit rating, pre-requisites, whether core, required etc. These should be listed by level and for single and combined options. The Design and Delivery Framework should inform the design of the Curriculum.
This section should also list:

  1. modules cross-listed into the programme, specifying the names of the sponsoring programmes which have agreed the cross-listings;

  2. the delivery structure of the programme if it does not fit the normal daytime undergraduate structure. An example might be a part-time postgraduate programme taught in the evenings and weekends. An indicative structure should be completed showing when modules are taught over the usual completion period for an average student. If a programme is offered in both full-time and part-time mode, there should be a map for each of them.

Delivery pattern: This should describe a typical student’s route through the programme.
Map of programme learning outcomes and QAA Benchmark Statement: This table should map the programme learning outcomes and the list of skills taken from the relevant Benchmark Statement.
Map of programme learning outcomes and Roehampton Graduate Attributes (UG only): This table should map the programme learning outcomes and the Roehampton Graduate Attributes.
Map of programme learning outcomes and teaching, learning and assessment methods: This table should map the programme learning outcomes and the teaching, learning and assessment methods.
Placement learning: This section should contain details of any placement learning on the programme.
Programme regulations and requirements: It is assumed that the overarching University regulations are used. Thus only exceptions to the University’s Academic Regulations should be listed, for example some professional bodies may ordain that a programme may not be allowed to condone. Any variations to the University’s Academic Regulations will need to be approved by LTQC. This kind of information should be included along with programme-specific details such as:

  • Only single honours

  • Part time / distance learning only

  • Accreditation / exemption details

  • Work placement

Ethics approval: This is an explanation of the ethics approval process.
Equal opportunities: It is assumed that the overarching University policy is applied. The template includes a link to the University policy and text on the University’s Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) statement. Any programme specific or related facts should be listed.
Selection process, admissions and registration: It is assumed that the overarching University policy is used. Any programme specific or related facts should be listed:

  • admissions criteria;

  • interview policy;

  • related RPL / CATS matters;

  • variations from the university norm (e.g. must have mathematics A2 level at grade B), any variations to the University’s admissions policy will need to be approved by the Recruitment and Admissions Subcommittee.

Student support and guidance: It is assumed that the overarching University policy is used, but can be augmented with any programme specific or related facts such as academic guidance.
Quality assurance: It is assumed that the overarching University policy is used. The template includes standard text on the University’s Quality Assurance framework. Any programme specific or related facts should be listed along with any PSRB requirements.
Annex A (Learning and teaching contact hours): this should list by module (in tabular format) the teaching method contact hours e.g.

Module title













An explanation of any unusual learning and teaching methods should be included (i.e. anything other than a standard lecture, seminar or tutorial). The notional learning hours for a 20-credit modules is 200, the majority of which will be individual study.

Annex B (Assessment weighting and assessment criteria): this should list by module (in tabular format) the assessment method and weighting used. The assessment criteria should also be included.
Assessment Weighting

Module title






More detailed information on assessment will be in the module description which will include the subcomponents.

A separate explanation of assessment methods should be included (e.g. portfolios, text analysis)
Annex C (Resources). For new programmes this is where all of the resource requirements for ‘start-up’ should be listed, including accommodation, academic and support staff, equipment, learning resources and recurrent expenditure. Periodic reviews and major modifications should list the specific resources required for the running of the programme, and should use it for the forward planning specific to that programme. The template includes standard text on the Library and learning resources, and IT and Media resources available, which may be added to.
Also to be included in this section:

  • Staff development;

  • External Examiners;

  • Programme management.

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