Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-21, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 22 September, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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core definition

An aim is an overall specification of the intention or purpose of a programme of study or institutional mission or policy.

explanatory context

A programme of study may specify one or more aims. These are generally specified so as to encompass the purpose and philosophy of the programme. Programme aims are usually further elaborated by programme objectives or programmes outcomes. These are usually framed to indicate what students will be able to do as a result of studying the programme.

            Programme (or course) aims specify the overall direction and content of a programme of study. Module aims would do the same for a subunit of a programme, usually showing how they relate to the overall programme aims.


Institutional mission statements and policy statements or strategies also identify aims.

In some settings aims are referred to as goals. For example, "Goals provide an overview for students, instructors and program/course evaluators of what the program or course aims to accomplish." (Ontario Council of Academic Vice Presidents (OCAV), 2006)

analytical review

Charles Sturt University (2004) noted:

Aims are broad statements which let the students know what you will teach them in the subject and what they might learn. They can be general and should give your students an indication of the scope of your subject and its relationship to other subjects or the course in general.


Similarly, Staffordshire University (undated):

An aim is a general statement of intent. It tries to summarise, in broad terms, the activity which is about to take place. Aims are written in general terms.


The University of Warwick (2006) for example, defines course aims as:

Course aims reflect the overall aims of each taught course of study; the wider objectives of the course, its academic scope and distinctive features.


For the University of Portsmouth (undated, p. 13):

It is actually quite difficult to define an aim as academic opinion tends to differ. However, for practical purposes an aim can be described as a broad statement of intent giving a broad indication of what is to come.


For the University of Exeter (2007)

Aim/Educational Aim: A term used in module and programme descriptions. It indicates the direction or orientation of a module or programme in terms of its content and sometimes its context. An aim is written in terms of level, teaching intentions and management of learning.

associated issues


related areas

See also



Charles Sturt University, 2004, 'Learning aims and objectives’, (page undated but site home page dated 2004) Page not available at this address (31 January 2011); on the 1st of January 2009 the Division of Learning and Teaching Services was established by a merger of staff from the Centre for Enhancing Learning and Teaching (CELT) and the Learning Materials Centre (LMC). 'Aim' no longer appears in either the Charles Sturt UniversityDivision of Student Administration (2011) Glossary of Terms or the Charles Sturt University (2011), Glossary.

Charles Sturt University, 2011, Glossary, available at, accessed 19 September 2012, not available 19 June 2019.

Charles Sturt University, Division of Student Administration, 2011, Glossary of Terms, available at accessed 31 January 2011, not available 28 January 2012.

Ontario Council of Academic Vice Presidents (OCAV), 2006,UPRAC Review and Audit Guidelines, 12 October 2006.

Staffordshire University (undated) ‘Aims and objectives tutorial Page no longer available, 31 January 2011.

University of Exeter, 2007, TQA Manual, Learning and Teaching Definitions, Last updated August 2007, (originally 2002), accessed 19 September 2012, not found 19 June 2019.

University of Portsmouth (undated), Aims and objectives explained - getting the best out of units,3626,en.pdf. Page no longer available, 31 January 2011.

University of Warwick, 2006, Course Specifications: Glossary of Terms relating to Course Specifications Last revised: 14 November 2006, accessed 19 September 2012, still available 19 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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