Revised Dual and Interdisciplinary Programmes Policy

This policy applies to the development and running of programmes in which there is substantial input from two or more University of Sheffield departments.

This includes
● Dual programmes: programmes where students study two broad disciplines with a 50:50 split (e.g. BA English and History) or with a 70:30 split (e.g. MPhys Physics with Philosophy).
● Dual programmes without the formal title of ‘dual’ but where the programme regulations include substantial input from more than one department e.g. MPhys Chemical Physics (split between Chemistry and Physics) or BSc Environmental Science (Animal and Plant Sciences and Geography)
● Interdisciplinary programmes: programmes that involve more than one discipline and enable students to synthesise understanding and skills across them in the application of knowledge e.g. BA Applied Social Sciences; programmes which involve a number of departments contributing to the programmes e.g. MEng Aerospace Engineering.

In planning and delivering dual / interdisciplinary programmes departments should have mechanisms in place so that from the student perspective
● the programme feels like a coherent course of study;
● students feel that they belong to a department(s) and/or a programme cohort;
● there is consistency in the level of core provision from the departments involved e.g. feedback turnaround time, access to tutors.

It is important that all departments involved in running dual /interdisciplinary programmes recognise their resource intensive nature and the administrative overhead involved.

All dual /interdisciplinary programmes have a department that ‘owns’ them. It is this department’s responsibility to ensure that the key requirements below are in place.

Key requirements

1. Each dual / interdisciplinary programme has a programme team comprising a named member of academic staff to lead for each department, and a named member of professional services staff from each department.
● Programme teams meet regularly in the year to discuss programme delivery and the overall student experience, ensuring that: assessments are appropriately spaced; module objectives fit with programme objectives; timetabling issues are addressed and individual student issues and cases are considered, including e.g. when students are on placements.
● The team agrees clear lines of responsibility for each department involved in the programme.

2. The programme team take a holistic approach to designing and reviewing dual / interdisciplinary programmes in terms of the programme learning outcomes, overall assessment strategy and the embedding of skills. Programmes will have a single set of aims and learning outcomes. The extent to which the content of the two (or more) parts of the programme are integrated will depend on the programme aims. Where the programme covers two distinct disciplines, there may be little in terms of content integration; where the disciplines are closer or the programme is explicitly interdisciplinary in nature, more integration is expected.

3. Effective means of communication are in place between departments to ensure that
● the specific needs of dual / interdisciplinary programmes are considered when making amendments to existing programmes and designing new ones. For example, if modules which contribute to multiple programmes, are integrated in one programme to create longer units of study, appropriate ‘packaging’ of the learning should be undertaken to ensure that they can still be used as shorter units of study for the other programmes they contribute to.
● in the Annual Review of Regulations, all relevant parties involved in dual / interdisciplinary programmes are alerted to any changes well in advance of submission. Departments ensure all other departments involved in delivery are aware of any changes to modules/programmes taken by their dual / interdisciplinary students.
● timetabling for core modules is undertaken as early as possible in the year prior to delivery in order to avoid clashes. Optional modules are not offered to students if they cannot be realistically delivered as part of a programme.

4. Effective communications are in place for students so that
● they receive all key communications, avoiding unnecessary duplication
● they know how to get support
● from the outset (and throughout the programme) they
○ understand the rationale behind the programme and the links between the two (or more) disciplines
○ are aware of potential differences in academic expectations between the two (or more) disciplines.

5. Teaching staff are aware when they have dual / interdisciplinary students on their modules so that this can be reflected in their assumptions about what students have learnt before and, more broadly, in their communications with students.

Date approved: June 2019
Date for review: June 2021
Dept responsible for policy: APSE

Further guidance on duals / interdisciplinary programmes
Collaborative Programmes