Programme Design

Proper conceptualisation and design of a programme are important first steps towards achieving high-quality educational provision. This process is typically governed through well-structured policies and procedures that ensure that the programme aligns to your institution’s mission and planning and is provided for in its resource allocation, is academically sound, takes the needs of students and other stakeholders into consideration, and articulates with other programmes, where possible.

What should I plan for during this stage?

  1. Relation to the institution’s mission and planning
  2. Needs of students and other stakeholders
  3. Intellectual credibility
  4. Coherence
  5. Articulation
  6. Characteristics and needs of professional and vocational education
  7. Learning materials development

What does the Council on Higher Education Require?

The programme is consonant with the institution’s mission, forms part of institutional planning and resource allocation, meets national requirements, the needs of students and other stakeholders, and is intellectually credible. It is designed coherently and articulates well with other relevant programmes, where possible.

In order to meet the criterion, the following is required at a minimum:

  1. The programme is consonant with the institution’s mission and goals and was approved by the appropriate institutional structures, including Senate/equivalent structure. Provision is made for the programme in the institution’s planning and resource allocation processes.
  2. The programme meets the national requirements pertaining to programmes which are at present being developed within the context of the NQF.
  3. Learning outcomes, degree of curriculum choice, teaching and learning methods, modes of delivery, learning materials and expected completion time cater for the learning needs of its target student intake. Competences expected of students who successfully complete the programme are made explicit.
  4. The design maintains an appropriate balance of theoretical, practical and experiential knowledge and skills. It has sufficient disciplinary content and theoretical depth, at the appropriate level, to serve its educational purposes. (v) The design offers students learning and career pathways with opportunities for articulation with other programmes within and across institutions, where possible.
  5. Modules and/or courses in the programme are coherently planned with regard to content, level, credits, purpose, outcomes, rules of combination, relative weight and delivery. Outsourcing of delivery is not permitted.
  6. There is a policy and/or procedures for developing and evaluating learning materials and ensuring their alignment with the programme goals and underpinning philosophy. Where necessary, members of the academic staff are trained to develop learning materials.
  7. Programme outcomes meet national and/or regional labour market, knowledge or other socio-cultural needs. The requirements of professional bodies are taken into consideration, where applicable. Relevant stakeholders, including academic peers from outside the institution, and employers and professional bodies where applicable, are involved in the development of the programme.

The characteristics and needs of professional and vocational education are catered for in the design of the programme, where applicable. This includes the following, in addition to (i) – (vii) above:

  • The programme promotes the students’ understanding of the specific occupation for which they are being trained.
  • Students master techniques and skills required for a specific profession or occupation.
  • Work-based learning and placement in a work-based environment form an integral part of the curriculum, where possible.

In the case of institutions with service learning as part of their mission:

  • Service learning programmes are integrated into institutional and academic planning, as part of the institution’s mission and strategic goals.
  • Enabling mechanisms (which may include incentives) are in place to support the implementation of service learning, including staff and student capacity development.