Programme Level Approach

Photograph of the inside of the Engineering Heartspace campus buildingProgramme Level Approach (PLA) is about approaching taught academic programmes from the student perspective. It means taking a holistic rather than modular approach to programme design and delivery, so that students get the most out of their learning.

In adopting this approach, we give students more opportunities to develop the deep knowledge, broad skills, and range of attributes they need to become assured and confident graduates.

PLA is core to the approach we take as a University to learning and teaching. All of the guidance within our Elevate pages has been written with PLA as a fundamental principle.


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More detailed information for staff

More information about PLA can be found on the PLA Google site (staff only).

Screenshot of the PLA Google site's front page

The site includes details of the roadmap for embedding PLA up to 2023, case studies from departments, and frequently asked questions.

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The key themes of PLA

There are five key aims of PLA. Each is summarised below:

1. Take a team approach

PLA means designing, delivering and reviewing programmes as a team, within and across departments, rather than as a collection of individuals, so that:

  • Our programmes are coherent and there is a clear journey through the levels of study.
  • Our programmes deliver on the expectations of our students.
  • Our staff take a collective responsibility for, and feel supported in, the delivery of programmes

2. Articulate our programmes

PLA means communicating our programme content, structure, learning outcomes and assessment methods clearly, so that:

  • Our programmes have a distinct offer that attracts a quality student cohort.
  • Our programmes are clearly defined to current students and have distinct learning outcomes.
  • Our current students understand their learning journey and responsibilities within it.

3. Engage the student voice

PLA means providing meaningful opportunities for student involvement and feedback on programme design, so that:

  • We take time to understand what it is like to experience our programmes as a student and design and deliver programmes from the student perspective.
  • Our current students are enthused and engaged with their academic learning.
  • We can make improvements to our programmes based on student experience.

4. Provide quality assessment and feedback

PLA means providing authentic, inclusive, proportionate and distributed assessment and feedback opportunities, so that:

  • Our students experience assessment and feedback methods suited to the knowledge, skills and competencies being assessed.
  • Our students are aware of assessment methods and criteria in advance of their study.
  • Our students can reflect and build on their skills as they progress through their programme.
  • Our students experience proportionate, appropriately distributed and consistent assessment.
  • Our academic staff benefit from better designed assessment and feedback.

5. Prepare our students

PLA means delivering programmes, assessing, and providing feedback in a way that enables students to develop skills, knowledge and graduate attributes, so that:

  • Our graduates have a good understanding of, and are well prepared for, their career and further study aspirations.
  • Our graduates are able to adapt to real-world problems and respond to social, ethical, environmental and technological challenges.

Each of these areas are supported by:

  • Staff development and sharing of good practice.
  • Regulations and policies.
  • Systems and processes.

We are taking this approach in order to:

  • Improve student wellbeing.
  • Improve student experience.
  • Improve student recruitment.
  • Improve staff experience.