Programme level approach (PLA)

PLA is about approaching academic programmes from the student perspective. It means viewing the content, structure and assessment that make up a programme more holistically so that students get the most out of their learning.

Find out more about the principles underpinning PLA from our Vice-President for Education, Wyn Morgan, in the short video below.

Approach and implementation

A holistic approach to programme design

PLA is about taking a holistic rather than a modular approach to programme design.

In doing so, we ensure excellence across whole programmes and give students more opportunities to develop the deep knowledge, broad skills, and range of attributes they need to become assured and confident graduates.

Examples of how departments have introduced PLA

Better and broader assessment

The modular system can privilege certain kinds of assessment, which can overload both students and staff.

PLA is a chance to rationalise our approach to assessment, ensuring it is relevant, efficient and aligns with the programme learning outcomes and the Sheffield Graduate Attributes.

Find out about the Sheffield Graduate Attributes 


The University is prioritising this work, with a view to all departments having adopted PLA for taught programmes by the end of the current learning and teaching strategy (2021).

We have appointed programme level leaders for each department to help ensure that PLA is progressed and its benefits maximised within their department.

Read our plan for implementation

Browse the pages to your left or read our FAQs to get more information on PLA.  If you have any further questions, or feel that we've missed anything, please contact Juliet Storey (