When to Begin Curriculum Review
Each School will review its undergraduate programmes in the light of the Curriculum Framework over a 3 year period from 2016-17 to 2018-19. The Curriculum Framework will also be used to inform the development of any undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in new areas.
There is no obvious ideal time to start the review process, and as leaders of the review you need to be realistic about the timescales in relation to specific demands on your own and your colleagues' time. Some things to consider in thinking about the timing for your own review are as follows:
Clarity on the scale of change may not become clear until the review is underway.
Curriculum review is very open-ended as you don't know what enhancements you need to make or how you will make them at the outset. This means that the timescale is unknown. Meaningful curriculum review and enhancement takes time. It may be realistic to allow up to 12 months for the review prior to implementation.
The implementation phase can also vary in length, depending on whether you adopt a 'big bang' approach or a phased roll-out over time. A 'big bang' approach where the curriculum is changed for all cohorts concurrently involves a lot more work in a short space of time and is potentially risky with regard to student contracts. A more incremental approach has the advantage of giving staff more time to prepare. When running parallel programmes, it is important to manage student expectations so that continuing students do not feel their programme is second-rate. Student engagement in agreeing the approach to implementation is strongly recommended (Pegg, 2014), and vital if adopting a 'big bang' approach.
Preparedness of staff to embark on curriculum review and enhancement
Staff development and training needs will need to be identified and built into the plan for the review. For example, Curriculum Framework Leads and Programme Directors may require an introduction to project management and learning change at an early stage of the review process to develop their confidence, skills and attributes to lead the review. In order to successfully embed changes into the culture of the School, Department or programme, the training and development needs of all staff required to implement changes must also be carefully planned.
On-going quality assurance processes
It may be helpful if the review process could be timed so that it could usefully inform any imminent internal or external quality assurance processes, such as Periodic Review or accreditation. Programme teams will also need to be mindful of the University's T & L Operational timeline (which can be downloaded here) with respect to any changes to be made.
This is likely to be difficult at particular pinch-points during the academic year, including exam and vacation periods.
Local or organisational change
The higher education landscape is changing rapidly, and the number, scope and pace of change initiatives at University and local level will impact on the capacity for change.
Pegg, A., (2014) "We Think That's the Future": Curriculum Reform Initiatives in Higher Education. York: Higher Education Academy.