Analytic Quality Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home


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.


Novel Recipes



Subject evaluation

core definition

Subject evaluation is the review, at the level of a specified academic (sub)discipline, of the teaching, learning and assessment processes (and the support infrastructure).

explanatory context

Subject evaluation is ambiguous because it is not always clear what the scope of a subject is.

analytical review

For Kristoffersen (2003):

The main purpose of a subject evaluation is to assess the quality of a specific subject within a programme, including the methods of teaching applied in relation to the subject and its context. The focus of subject evaluations is narrower than that of programme evaluations.

This view of subject differs to that of the UK QAA, which undertook subject assessments/reviews, that were wider than a single programme, for example, history might appear on a range of programmes including classical history, economic history, modern history.:

Subject review was the review method used between 1993 and 2001 for specific subjects taught in higher education in England and Northern Ireland…. The HEFCE funds education in over 140 institutions of HE and 75 further education (FE) colleges. These institutions vary greatly in size, subject provision, history and statement of purpose. Each has autonomy to determine its institutional mission, and its specific aims and objectives at subject level. Quality assessment is carried out in relation to the subject aims and objectives set by each provider. It measures the extent to which each subject provider is successful in achieving its aims and objectives. Readers should be cautious in making comparisons of subject providers solely on the basis of quality assessment outcomes. Comparisons between providers with substantively different aims and objectives would have little validity. (QAA, 2004)

Giffiths University, Australia, (2004) has a different take, focusing on internal, professional development:

Subject evaluation is the process of gathering information about various aspects of a unit in an academic course or program, analysing and interpreting this information, and acting on the results for the purpose of improving the quality of the subject, teaching, and students’ learning. There are four main focuses for subject evaluation:

1. the design of the subject (that is, the aims and objectives of the subject and the way in which the content is selected and organised);

2. the way the subject is taught;

3. students’ learning and teacher-student relationships;

4. the way students’ learning is assessed and the results of assessment.

A fifth focus could well be added—the evaluation process itself; that is, the way in which information about the subject and students’ learning is gathered, and the action taken, as a result of the evaluation, to improve the subject in order to improve students’ learning. This evaluation resource book is based on the premise that subject evaluation is a central concern of the professional teacher.

This approach is mirrored at the University of East London (2001), in the UK, although the ‘unit’ rather than the subject is the focus, although the unit implies a group (all or part of a school) that is engaged in teaching the subject:

A Subject Review is a systematic evaluation of the operation of an academic unit within the University, usually at school level. It involves a self-critical evaluation of performance by the unit concerned followed by review by a panel comprising members drawn from the University and external subject specialists from other higher education institutions and from business and/or the professions.

Prior to the Subject Review a planning meeting will take place between the chair of the panel and those members of staff responsible for ensuring the department/subject group is prepared for the event.

associated issues


related areas

See also


assessment of learning

external evaluation

programme evaluation


subject assessment


Kristoffersen, D., 2003, ‘Denmark’ in Educational Evaluation around the World An International Anthology (Copenhagen, The Danish Evaluation Institute) ISBN 87-7958-132-3. Available as a pdf at, no longer available 1 September 2012.

Griffith University, 2004, Subject Evaluation Resource Book: What is Subject Evaluation? available at, no longer available 1 September 2012.

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), 2004, Review Reports,, no longer available 1 September 2012.

University of East London, 2001, Quality Manual, Part 11: Subject Review: What is Subject Review?, September,, no longer available 1 September 2012.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2021

A NOVEL Who bombed a Birmingham mosque?


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Home