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Course Design Blueprint

Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)

The QAA is an established body that has been leading the development of Quality standards for UK Higher Education for many years.  Although its status has changed since the establishment of the OfS, becoming a subscription membership body which takes on some responsibilities for inspection on behalf of the OfS, it remains an influential body and maintains the Quality Code and the related standards documentation.


The Quality Code

The QAA Quality Code sets out a set of expectations, along with practices that enable these expectations to be achieved, and collections of advice and guidance that supports Higher Education institutions in developing effective practice.  The University's policies and procedures are all written and reviewed in the light of the code and its associated guidance.


Standards and reference points

The QAA also maintains key documentation that course teams will be able to employ in ensuring their proposed curriculum is appropriately alligned with the sector, both in terms of the level of the award and the subject area covered.  In particular, course teams should ensure that they are familiar with:

  • The Frameworks for HE qualifications of UK Degree awarding bodies (FHEQ).  This document sets out the levels of achievement expected for each of the levels of Higher Education, providing qualification descriptors that depict the expected achievement associated with each award.
  • Subject Benchmark Statements.  The QAA maintain a series of subject benchmark statements that seek to characterise the nature of study, subject areas that should or may be included in a curriculum, and the expected levels of achievement for both passing and higher achieving students.  There are currently 60 benchmark statements for undergraduate provision, and 16 for Masters provision.
  • Characteristics Statements.  These documents set out the distinguishing features of five award types and should be referenced in the development of courses offering these awards at the University.  Of particular relevance are the statements for Foundation Degrees, Apprenticeships, and Masters degrees.