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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Subject assessment

core definition

Subject assessment refers to quality assurance process that focuses on a subject or disciple and examines it in detail.

explanatory context

Subject assessment, when undertaken by an external body, is usually a process in which all providers in a country of a programmes in the subject area or disciple are evaluated. This may be by a government department, a specialist agency acting on behalf of government, or, in some countries, by a professional body seeking to ensure the quality and standards of professional programmes. Assessment usually implies that there is some sort of grading or ranking of the subject areas evaluated. 

This notion is distinct from the idea of students being assessed from their work in a particular subject, see assessment of learning.

analytical review

Brennan et al. (undated) described the quality assurance process, which involved peer review of subject areas, introduced in the UK in the wake of the ending of the polytechnic in 1992:

Quality assessment focused on subjects and aimed to link quality of provision to funding, to improve quality, and to provide public information on quality to users (students and employers). Quality assessment reports were published and contained a graded summative result, initially on a three point scale of excellent, satisfactory and unsatisfactory and subsequently on a graded profile of six “aspects of provision”. The assessment process required a self-assessment produced within the institution and a three-day assessment visit by a team of “peers” from other higher education institutions selected by the funding council. Much of the assessment visit was spent in observing classroom teaching plus discussions with staff and students and reviewing course documentation

associated issues


related areas

See also


assessment of learning

external evaluation

professional programme


subject evaluation


Brennan, J., Holloway, J. and Shah, T., undated, Open University, The United Kingdom. OECD/IMHE, available at, accessed 9 September 2012, still available 11 January 2017.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

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