module specification

ED7136 - Curriculum Evaluation and Development (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Curriculum Evaluation and Development
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School Centre for Professional & Educational Development
Total study hours 200
176 hours Guided independent study
24 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 20%   Project proposal
Coursework 20%   Commentary (peer reviews)
Coursework 60% 50 Project report
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Wednesday Afternoon

Module summary

The concept of the curriculum brings together issues of teaching, learning, assessment and the use of supporting technologies.  This module addresses the overarching and institutional context of teaching and learning in HE, and provides holistic frameworks for design and evaluation of the learning experience.  These frameworks are applied to projects related to the participants' own subject areas.


Prior learning requirements


Module aims

This module aims to enable participants to plan, deliver and appraise higher education courses in a professional manner.  It addresses the responsibilities of academic and related staff for planning, implementing and evaluating curricula in higher education.  Its intention is to foster critical analysis and the appraisal of professional work with respect to policy debates and management environments, curriculum theory and methods of educational evaluation.  The module examines the co-ordination of teaching, learning and assessment, and relates curriculum issues to wider patterns of continuity and change in higher education.


The module will contain sessions that address the following issues:

1. Course design: frameworks, contexts and issues (central sessions)
• Key concepts in the domain of curriculum theory and practice.
• The elements and process of course design.
• The contextual factors which influence course design – including ideologies and policies, both  national and institutional
• The contested and complex nature of curriculum development.

2. Evaluating courses: purposes, sources and methods (central sessions)
• The rationale and purposes of curriculum evaluation.
• Approaches to and methods of evaluation.
• The selection of design or evaluation projects for this module.
• The integration of evaluation into projects.

3. CED project planning and preparation (central session)
• The planning and implementation of projects
• Individual guidance on further reading and need for support

4. Mentor review of draft project proposal (meeting with mentor)
• The scope and potential of the proposed project and the quality of the draft plans.
• The relationship of the project to university or local priorities
• Questions about the project and suggestions for modifications to the project proposal.

5. Peer review of two draft project reports (central session)
• The criteria for assessing final project reports, to used by the peer reviewers
• The criteria for assessing peer commentaries and assessments of reports.
• Intranet posting of peer reviews: the challenges presented in reviewing draft reports and  writing  appropriate and constructive commentaries on them.

6. Curriculum Practice in Context (central session)
• Progress on the projects, including how peer feedback (assessment 2) has been
accommodated – an opportunity for sharing experience and for changing and improving the
final reports.
Ideas and insights gained from the CED module and project about key issues in curriculum
evaluation and development, and the influence on practice of ideological and material context.
• An evaluation of the module and suggestions for improving it for future participants.


Learning and teaching

• Initial workshops, which use a variety of processes to introduce the main concepts and frameworks specified in the syllabus and ensure that participants are familiar with that subject matter, the programme of independent study for the module and the module assessment.
• Further workshops which continue that work and help participants with  preparing for the assessment for the module
• Independent study activities
• Tutor advice and individual support

This first phase (weeks 1-6) culminates in an initial proposal (of 1 000 words) for a curriculum design or evaluation project in the participant’s subject area or specialist field. The project must be approved by the mentor and academic tutor, and ideally, will enjoy the interest and support of the participant's line managers and colleagues.

In the second phase (weeks 7-12), participants study on their own or with colleagues to implement their project, take part in project support groups, and ‘publish’ a draft project report (3 000 words) on the module VLE (WebLearn) for peer review and assessment.  Besides producing their own reports, participants also must comment on and assess the draft reports of two of their peers (commentaries 500 words each).

The third phase (weeks 13-20) is for participants to reflect on peer commentaries and assessments, to review progress on their draft projects in a centrally-organized workshop, and to discuss developments with their mentors.  The final project reports are posted on the VLE for assessment by the module tutors.

Besides being used for assessment submission and feedback, the VLE also provides extensive guidance on the assessment process, and links to numerous online resources – which are also demonstrated in class.

Both the peer reviews and self-evaluation component of the final report provide opportunities for reflective learning, as do class discussions and exchanges among colleagues from different areas.

Learning outcomes

Participants should be able to:
1. Review curricula in terms of educational 'good practice' and specific benchmarks or sets of
2. Explain professional practice in terms of educational principles and curricular issues,
opportunities and constraints - whilst acknowledging the complex and contested nature of HE
3. Develop strategies for planning, implementing and evaluating curricula.
4. Conduct and complete a case study of curriculum development and/or evaluation within their
own subject or specialist domain.

Assessment strategy

There are three components to the assessment of this module. All three components are based on documents to be posted electronically on the module VLE. The content of the project is negotiated between a participant and mentor and is recorded in the Project Plan (optional), a copy of which is sent to the module convenor, so progress can be monitored centrally and informed assistance provided by the course team.
1. A proposal (c.1 000 words) for a subject-specific curriculum evaluation or development project. (20% of total module marks).
2. Commentaries /formative reviews of the draft project reports of two peers (c. 500 words each). (20% of total module marks).
3. A final report (c.3 000 words) of the curriculum evaluation or development project. This report is marked by the tutors, taking note of the earlier peer assessments of the draft report (60%).


Core TextsToohey, S. (1999),  Designing Courses for Higher Education, Buckingham, The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press
Hervey, J. [ed.] (1998),  LTDI Evaluation Cookbook, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University

Curriculum Design
Adams, M. & Brown, S. (eds) (2006) Towards Inclusive Learning in Higher Education: Developing Curricula for disabled students. Abingdon: Routledge
Biggs, John (1996) ‘Enhancing Teaching through constructive alignment’, Higher Education, vol. 32: 347-364
Butcher, C. et al (2006) Designing Learning: From Module Outline to Effective Teaching. London: Routledge
Diamond, R.M. (1998) Designing and Assessing Courses and Curricula. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.
Jackson, N. et al (eds) (2006) Developing Creativity in Higher Education: An Imaginative Curriculum. Abingdon: Routledge
Knight, P (2001) Complexity and Curriculum: a process approach to curriculum-making, Teaching in Higher Education, 6 (3) pp. 369-381.
McAlpine, L. (2004) Designing learning as well as teaching. A research-based model for instruction that emphasizes learner practice, Active Learning in Higher Education, 5 (2) pp. 119-134.
Nicholls, Gill (2002) Developing teaching and learning in higher education.  London: RoutledgeFalmer (chapter 5 on “Programme and course design”)
Rust, C. and Gibbs, G. [eds.] (1997) Improving Student Learning through Course Design. Oxford, Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development
Parsons, C. & Gibbs, G. (1994),  Course Design for Resource Based Learning, Oxford, OCSD.
Vai, M. & Sosulski, K. (2011) Essentials of online course design : a standards-based guide. New York: Routledge

Curriculum EvaluationBreakwell, G. & Millward, L.,  (1995),  Basic Evaluation Methods. Leicester, BPS Books.
Cowan, J. (1998),  On Becoming an Innovative University Teacher: Reflection in Action. Buckingham, SRHE/OU Press.
Hounsell, D. (1999) ‘The Evaluation of Teaching’ in Fry, H et al, A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Enhancing Academic Practice. London, Kogan Page, ch. 13
Light, G., Cox, R and Calkins, S. (2009) Learning and teaching in higher education : the reflective professional. London: Sage

Curriculum Context/Paradigms
Apple, M. (2004) Ideology and Curriculum. London: RoutledgeFalmer
Barnett, R. (1997) Higher Education: A Critical Business. Buckingham, SRHE and Open University Press.
Bovill, C., Bulley, C.J., and Morss, K. (2011) Engaging and empowering first-year students through curriculum design: perspectives from the literature. Teaching in Higher Education, 16 (2) pp.197-209
Cornbleth, C. (1990). Curriculum in Context. New York: The Falmer Press
Grundy, S. (1987) Curriculum as Praxis. London: The Falmer Press
Ross, A. (2000)  Curriculum Construction and Critique. London: Falmer Press.