DoLT Forum 23 March
Curriculum enhancement project
• Project update
• Options for change to the structure of the academic
• Models for broadening the curriculum
• Your views on:
- some key broadening questions
- the proposed academic year structure
Project update:
Within all UG programmes:
• Integration of research with learning and teaching
• Core threads will be incorporated and demonstrated in
the context of the discipline
• Deeper learning and less ‘pocketed knowledge’
• Opportunity to broaden within or beyond the discipline
• Opportunity for placement learning/study abroad
Project update:
What’s been agreed
• Employability, ethics and responsibility and global
and cultural insight - the core threads within Leeds
• Threads to be demonstrated in all programmes
from 2012 onwards
• Electives to be structured within coherent strands
• New structure for electives to be in place for 2012
Project update:
Under development
• A commonly agreed definition of Research and L&T
• Definitions for each of the threads and exemplars
• Broadening: Characteristics/criteria of an elective
• Principles and drivers which will inform structure of
the academic year
• Model for new academic year structure
Structure of the academic year
Simon Biggs: Pro Dean L&T Engineering
The Academic Year
Main issues highlighted:
• Second Semester is less than ideal
• Need for 2 formal examination periods?
• Need to reassert primacy of programmes over
• Need for more imaginative and well thought out
assessment maps
The Academic Year
Principles & drivers
A fundamental principle is that any change, or changes, made to the academic calendar must improve
the student experience at Leeds.
Similarly, any change or changes made to the academic calendar must not impact in a negative way
on the staff experience; balancing the imperative of protecting research time with the impact of
increased fees on students’ expectations.
The needs of the curriculum should drive the support process.
The requirements of the different disciplines must be accommodated; prescription or restriction should
only be introduced in order to fulfil:
 equality and equity of the student experience across all programmes
 essential practical considerations; the feasibility of running such a complex set of curricula across a
range of subject areas in a large institution.
We must be clear of the attributes of the graduates that we wish to produce and then provide a flexible
space that will suit the teaching, learning and assessment needs of all of our programmes.
Given the change in fee structures after 2012 the impact on perceptions of students, and other external
stakeholders including parents, of the length of the teaching / contact periods must be taken into
The Academic Year
Teaching in a compressed and intensive way excludes opportunities for students to assimilate
concepts and knowledge and for them to develop intellectually, technically and reflectively to their full
The current academic year structure, with two periods of University-organised assessment, militates
against the possibility of synoptic learning and assessment; synoptic assessment would require
students to synthesise their learning across modules as well as within modules.
The heart of course design should be at programme rather than module level. An unhealthy focus on
the module can result in fragmented student learning and ‘pocketed’ knowledge; achievement of
programme level outcomes should be the arbiter of success.
The integration of research with teaching is a given for study at Leeds.
Students need to be prepared for any significant, summative piece of assessment; development of
skills and attributes through the course should focus on this end.
The review of the curriculum gives an opportunity to address aspects of our variable NSS, and other
programme evaluation, particularly the scores for assessment and feedback.
The moveable Easter holiday causes problems with the current model; it disrupts the continuity of the
teaching & learning period in the spring & summer terms.
The length of holiday periods at Christmas and Easter can be adjusted to suit the needs of the
Whatever is decided, programme teams should be having a conversation about their curricula; the
more open and flexible the academic calendar, the more creative and ambitious these discussions can
Martin Purvis: Pro Dean L&T Environment
Broadening –
Aims and Rationale
• To allow students to adapt/apply knowledge
from main discipline in different ways/contexts
• To give students the opportunity to undertake
subjects, develop skills and explore topics
beyond main discipline
• To meet employer demand for individuals with
broad academic horizons and the confidence/
flexibility to question received wisdom – not
just specialist knowledge of a single subject
area (Graduate Talent Conference 2010)
Broadening at Leeds –
Flexible Opportunity
• Enhance/render explicit broadening elements
within primary disciplinary content
• Facilitate/enhance co-curricular broadening
opportunities, external/research placements
• Coordinate/enhance broadening electives as
component of most programmes
Broadening: Elective Strands
• Reformat electives as coherent strands of related
modules – both as organisational device and to clarify
rationale for broadening
• Ensure strands offer students the opportunity to pursue
an interest across more than one level of study
• Ensure more equal opportunities for students to pursue
broadening strands within their degree programme
• Broadening beyond main discipline at the student’s
• Timing of broadening opportunities within specific
programmes may reflect particular disciplinary/
professional contexts
An Elective Strand is:
A co-ordinated and structured series of related
elective modules allowing sustained
exploration of a specific subject, issue or skill
which lies beyond the primary disciplinary
content of a student’s programme.
Elective Strands should:
• Have a clear focus, but include range of alternative
modules – allowing choice for students and some
flexibility in timetabling around study for home
• Offer modules over at least 2 levels (and ideally 3
levels) to allow for progression
• Be constructed to ensure that a student who exits
after study at only one level also has satisfactory
and stimulating experience
• Be sufficiently flexible to accommodate
unorthodox progression paths – e.g. a student who
starts strand at L1, exits for a year and then reenters
Types/functions of Elective Strands
• A structured exploration of key aspects of an
academic subject beyond the home degree discipline
• A suite of modules which develop additional skills
and competences – with academic and/or vocational
• A suite of modules which enhance understanding of
external commercial/institutional environments
and/or enterprise
• A co-ordinated exploration of an important issue or
debate from a complementary range of different
disciplinary perspectives
Possible inter-disciplinary strands
• Knowledge, communication and technology
• Sustainability or apocalypse?
• Languages, translation and global
• Public engagement and understanding
• The future of the university
• Work placement and professional
Steps towards a Broader Curriculum
Step 1: Provide clearer information about rationale
for/benefits from ‘broadening’ to students and
Step 2: Develop defined structure of Broadening Strands,
as a series of related elective modules, to add
significant value to current elective system.
Step 3: Work with Schools/Faculties to ensure
‘broadening’ traits evident in core disciplinary
Step 4: Explore scope for innovative forms of timetabling
and/or module delivery so that choice in theory
translates into choice in practice.
Your Input
Consultation document will ask you to …
a) review existing elective provision in the light of
strand model – may entail more selectivity about
which modules offered as electives
b) consider scope for innovative strands – taught
within School/Faculty or through new interdisciplinary partnerships
c) consider strands that you and your students
would like to see developed to generate new
broadening opportunities
Questions and Discussion
Academic Year
• What do you think about the principles and drivers
that should inform any change to the structure of the
academic year?
• What are your views on getting rid of the formal
examination period at the end of semester 1?
• What do you think about the suggestions for
incorporating revision time or work
placement/experience opportunities within option 3?
Key broadening questions
• How can we best encourage/co-ordinate the
development of an imaginative range of broadening
• Should be wary of offering too many strands/too
much choice? And how much is too much?
• Can we accommodate student choice to migrate
between strands – plus opting out (and back in)?
• Can all programmes accommodate ‘flexible
• Does it matter where, and at what level(s),
broadening opportunities are located within specific