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 18 June, 2021 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2021.


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core definition

Programme (or program in US/Australian English) is shorthand for a study curriculum undertaken by a student that has co-ordinated elements, which constitute a coherent named award.

explanatory context

Programme is most often used in the context of a taught undergraduate (bachelor’s) or masters programme. However, it is also extended in some contexts to include research postgraduate study, even where there is no formal taught elements. The research undertaking, agreed with supervisors, that will result in the award of a doctorate or other postgraduate research award is referred to as a programme of study.


In UK English, program means computer program.

analytical review

Council on Higher Education, Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC) (2004) defines a programme as:

Purposeful and structured set of learning experiences that leads to a qualification. 

The UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) (undated) states:

Programme (of study): An approved course of study that provides a coherent learning experience and normally leads to a qualification. UK higher education programmes must be approved and validated by UK degree-awarding bodies.

In its Code of Practice, QAA (2010, p. 82) states:

Programme (of study) is the approved curriculum followed by a registered student. A programme may be multidisciplinary, or refer to the main pathways through a modular scheme..


Herman DuToit in correspondence (4 July 2009) updated me on the (then) current definitions of 'programme' as well as 'new programme' and 'existing programme' used by the South African Council on Higher Education (see Council on Higher Education (2004)):

A programme is a purposeful and structured set of learning experiences that leads to a qualification. A qualification is the formal recognition and certification of learning achievement.

A new programme is a programme which has not been offered before, or a programme whose purpose, outcomes, field of study, mode or site of delivery has been has been changed considerably.

An existing programme isa programme that is registered on the NQF and has been accredited by the University and Technikons Advisory Council, SAQA or the HEQC.


Tempus (2001) defines programme as:

a set of interrelated projects which are managed co-ordinately;


For the University of Exeter (2004):

Programme (of Study) The approved curriculum followed by a student that may be one of a number of established pathways available or may be unique to the student.

The Manual of the University Quality Assurance International Board of Dubai (2012, p. 5) defines programme as:

A plan of study that, when successfully completed, leads to the awarding of a qualification such as a diploma or degree. A programme is made up of a number of courses.

The Ontario Council of Academic Vice Presidents (OCAV, 2006, p. 2):

Program: A program is defined as a sequence of courses or other units of study prescribed by an institution for the fulfilment of the requirements of a particular degree, and is considered to be the comprehensive body of studies required to graduate with a specialization in a particular discipline (i.e., the "major").

associated issues

In some settings, the term course is used to mean programme of study. However, course and programme are not interchangeable as, in some circumstances, course means a subset of a programme of study (equivalent to a module or unit of study).

related areas

See also


programme specification


Council on Higher Education, Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC), 2004, Criteria for Institutional Audits, April (Pretoria, Council on Higher Education).

Council on Higher Education, 2004, Framework for Programme Accreditation. Nov. 2004, footnotes to pp. 7–8. ISBN:1-919586-43-9.

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

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), 2010, Code of practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education. Collaborative provision and flexible and distributed learning (including e-learning) Amplified version October 2010, available at, accessed 11 September 2012, page not avail;able 9 January 2017.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), undated, Glossary, available at, accessed 8 January 2017, not available 30 June 2019.

Tempus, 2001, Glossary of the Terms related to Quality Assurance Development of Quality Assurance System in Higher Education (QUASYS) Tempus Joint European Project, UM JEP-16015-2001, accessed 3 August 2008, still available 30 June 2019.

University of Exeter, 2004,  TQA Manual, Learning and Teaching Definitions, Last updated 31 August, 2004. Page no longer available, 31 January 2011.

University Quality Assurance International Board (UQAIB) [of Dubai], 2012, Quality Assurance Manual, version 1.6, June 2012.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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