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Programme approval

Programme approval is the process by which we ensure that any named award of Cardiff University is of an appropriate academic standard and will provide a valuable and stimulating learning experience for our students.

The programme approval policy has been developed to sit alongside the collaborative provision policy framework, to ensure it continues both to support internal processes that function efficiently and effectively and to fully meet the expectations and practices set out in the revised UK Quality Code for Higher Education.

Programme approval policy

Programme approval policy

1 August 2018

Programme Approval Policy


The policy sets out the approval process for:

  • developing new programmes
  • making intermediate and major changes to existing programmes
  • making minor changes to existing programmes.

Approval process

The decision making processes are designed with a guiding principle of subsidiarity, whilst ensuring appropriate rigour and scrutiny. All changes (except minor changes) will need both strategic and academic approval; however, the information required will differ considerably dependent on the scale of change presented.

There are three overarching principles of the programme approval process.

Stage one: Strategic approval

Strategic approval is taken at College level and addresses the key question, ‘In principle, do we want to do this?’ Answering this question involves consideration of strategy, business viability including costs, risks (including reputational risks), student numbers and practical and academic considerations.

Stage two: Academic approval

This stage which asks the question, ‘Is this academically robust?’ This stage involves a consideration of curriculum design and delivery, the student experience, learning resources and support and administration arrangements. This stage completes the academic approval process.

Stage three: University approval

A formal sign-off of the approval by Academic Standards and Quality Committee.


An annual cycle of activity has been developed outlining each stage of the process providing Schools with a holistic understanding of what is required at each stage and guidance on approximate timescales for submission to the Programme and Partner Standing Panel.  The annual cycle connects both the academic and professional service activity from the initial stages of programme development, through to marketing and recruitment of the programme identifying key support staff at each stage.

As each proposal varies in scale and complexity, it is important that appropriate time and resources are available throughout each stage of the process.  Proposals including collaborative provision may take significantly longer especially in cases where national government approval is required or where the programme may be subject to additional approval mechanisms at the partner organisation(s).


For more information, please contact:

Quality and Standards Team