Preparing for Curriculum Design

Effective assessment and feedback is underpinned by sound curriculum design.

Some programme teams may have participated in LEAP (Learning Excellence Acceleration Programme) workshops on curriculum design led by staff from the Centre for Excellence in Learning (CEL), the forerunner of FLIE and will be familiar with some of the pedagogic building blocks of curriculum design that are essential to consider alongside the administrative processes for curriculum design at BU. You can search for earlier blog posts, by David Biggins when he was based in CEL, about using the LEAP methodology. The embedded post focusses on the launch of the LEAP methodology.

LEAPing into action

For those who haven’t had the opportunity to attend a LEAP event I’m writing a series of blogs on curriculum design and its relationship to assessment & feedback.

When designing or updating a degree programme it is important to consider how the units of study relate to one another within a level of study and between levels of study. There may be units that build on the key concepts of another in a previous level, or another semester in the same level, or that may be beneficial to be delivered in parallel within a level or in the same semester. Decisions about assessment types can be made by considering the balance of assessment types within a semester, a level and the whole programme. Considering the programme as a whole, rather than as a collection of independent units based on the interests and expertise of the staff team, contributes to a curriculum that is aligned, integrated and inter-connected.

In addition to the BU quality assurance/enhancement procedures the overall curriculum design process will be informed by several external points of reference including programme outcomes based on subject benchmark statements and the PSRB requirements (professional, statutory, and regulatory bodies) where relevant.

Much of the practice in universities is based on the ideas of Biggs (2003, 2014) and Biggs & Tang (2011), and their work on constructive alignment.  In this approach the emphasis is on the active learning tasks undertaken by students to develop their understanding, rather than a focus on the delivery of content by the lecturer. The assessment activities are designed to enable the learners to demonstrate achievement of the unit, level and programme learning outcomes and are best developed using a collaborative team approach.


Biggs, J.B. 1999. Teaching for quality learning at university. Buckingham: OUP/Society for Research into Higher Education.

Biggs J.B. and Tang C. 2011. Teaching for quality learning at university: what the student does. 4th ed. Buckingham: OUP


Anne Quinney, Principal Lecturer FLIE

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