What is a Programme Specific Approval Panel?

A Programme Specific Approval Panel (PSAP) has delegated authority from the Programme Approval and Development Sub-Committee (PADSC) to approve programmes. It is a specially convened panel created to approve a new programme proposal. The PSAP is the panel to which the Programme Design Team present their proposals. Each PSAP is specific to a programme or a suite of related programmes.


The purpose of the PSAP is to set conditions for the approval of the programme (or programmes) and to grant approval based on meeting those conditions. As part of this process, it will need to verify the delivery viability, including any collaborative provision arrangements, and will include an external peer review.  It will also ensure that the Design Process Principles have been followed and are reflected in the Programme and Module documentation.

Decisions of each Programme Specific Approval Panel are recorded at the Programme Approval and Development SubCommittee (PADSC).


The members of the PSAP will normally be appointed by the School Quality Manager, with the exception of the Chair and the PADSC Representative, who will be appointed by the PADSC secretary.  If the new programme is a Degree Apprenticeship, this will be considered by the Degree Apprenticeship Standing Panel. This panel has a ‘set’ membership and is organised by the central Quality Team in conjunction with the School/lead School (if more than one).


The Chair will be a member of academic staff from another School with experience in new programme design approval and implementation. They should have experience in Chairing previous approval events (or similar) or Chairing relevant School of University Level Committees (e.g. Learning and Teaching Committee).


The Secretary will normally be the Quality Manager for the School proposing the programme. The Secretary organises the Panel meeting and drafts the final report. The Secretary has a particular interest in matters of academic quality and may contribute to the discussion and questioning of the Programme Team.

University Representative

The University Representative is a member of staff from another School or Department. They have no involvement with the programme under consideration nor necessarily will they have related disciplinary expertise. They offer a generic perspective and have a particular interest in learning and teaching in HE, including students’ experiences and the working experience of staff and in curriculum design as a process.

PADSC Representative

The PADSC Representative has specific knowledge of University programme design requirements and expectations. Along with the Chair, they help to ensure consistency of PSAP scrutiny across the institution and meet the current University Design Principles.  

School Representative

The School representative will be a member of the School proposing the programme and offers a generic School perspective on the proposed programme(s).

Student Representative

The student representative offers a student perspective on the proposal, focusing on the student experience and how students have been involved in the programme design process.  They should normally have experience in studying the type and level of the proposed programme.

External Adviser

The External Adviser will normally be identified by the Programme Designer and will have expertise in the specific disciplinary area of the programme being proposed and will be expected to pay due attention to relevant sector-wide expectations to ensure that these are reflected in the programme title, outcomes, design, and documentation.

Additional members where appropriate

Professional Body Representative

When a programme is being delivered to meet the needs of a professional body, a Professional Body Representative must be appointed to ensure that these needs are considered.

Employer Representative

Where a programme is being delivered to meet an employer's needs, a representative from the sector or specific business should be appointed to the panel which will focus on graduate characteristics and attributes, the needs of the employers, and the degree to which the employer perspectives have influenced the curriculum design.

Collaborative Provision Strategy Group (CPSG) Representative

If the programme is being delivered in collaboration with a partner organisation, the panel should include at least one member of the Collaborative Provision Strategy Group (CPSG). They will focus on the partnership arrangements and the level of risk involved.

Further Resources

The Programme Approval Process

The Programme Approval and Development Sub-Committee