Support for Critical Friends and Proposers

The following information is provided to support lead academics/proposers and critical friends in the approval process.

Once the business case for the new programme/change to existing programme has been approved, the Academic Quality and Policy Office (AQPO) will assign a critical friend whose role is to provide developmental support and advise on the academic case for approval. AQPO will facilitate the initial meeting, which will discuss timelines for development and approval and agree further points of contact.  

The role of the critical friend is to provide internal scrutiny of, and advice on, the academic case for new programmes and high-risk changes to existing programmes. Critical friends are recruited to the role by AQPO. For further details please see the Critical Friend role description (PDF, 104kB).

The following are minimum contact requirements with the critical friend:

Critical friends write a report which forms part of the academic case for consideration by committees. Please see the Critical Friend Report Template (Office document, 53kB).

 The critical friends for 2023/24 are:

University of Bristol Guidance -

Levels of study - definition and guidelines

Credit Framework- including details of total credits required for each award and minimum number of credits required at the highest level of the award (Section 3 of University Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes)

Charter, Acts, Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations of the University

Please see our Education Policy and Guidance page for further guidance on formulating unit and programme aims and intended learning outcomes.

Principles for Distance Learning (Office document, 24kB)

Guidelines for Accredited Prior Learning

Support for Student Learning and Personal Tutoring

Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Guidance -

Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - including qualification descriptors for all HE qualifications, against which University of Bristol programme specifications should be benchmarked.

QAA Outcome classification descriptions for FHEQ Level 6  - This annex sets out common descriptions of the four main degree outcome classifications for bachelor's degrees with honours - 1st, 2.1, 2.2 and 3rd. These statements build upon the descriptors within The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (FHEQ) fo rbachelors awards.

Subject Benchmark Statements - these set out expectations about standards of degrees in a range of subject areas (including some at postgraduate level). They describe what gives a discipline its coherence and identity, and define what can be expected of a graduate in terms of the abilities and skills needed to develop understanding or competence in the subject. New and revised programme specifications should be benchmarked against these statements.

Higher Education Credit Framework for England: Guidance on academic credit arrangements in higher education in England - the implications of this national framework have been integrated into the University's credit framework.