Interdisciplinary Programmes

Interdisciplinary programmes are taught collaboratively across one or more disciplines and may straddle two or more faculties and within those several schools. The disciplines involved must be core to the philosophy of the programme and fundamental to meeting the learning objectives. The following guidance describes the specific points that ought to be considered in the design, arrangement, and provision of this type of programme at the University of Bristol.  

Guidance related to joint honours programmes can be found here:


1. One of the contributing schools must own the programme as the home school; being responsible for the delivery of the programme and application of the relevant regulations as set out in the University's Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.

2. Where the interdisciplinary programme is delivered across more than one faculty, the faculty of the home school will be the awarding faculty. Any faculty specific regulations in use in the faculty will apply, unless agreed otherwise.

3. The home school will lead upon the organisation and arrangements for the programme, but must involve / liaise with the partner schools in such processes, as appropriate.

4. The home school is responsible for ensuring that the student has a coherent experience in terms of administration and teaching; including the induction and student handbook for the programme. It will also provide the administrative support needed to manage the programme, including organising regular student cohort meetings attended by the relevant individuals from each of the participating schools.

5. A programme director should be appointed from the home school. A named contact in the other discipline(s) will be identified to contribute to proposals for developing and delivery the programme in order to enhance the integrated experience for students.

6. Normally, students undertaking an interdisciplinary programme will be attributed an Academic Personal Tutor from the home school. The participating schools will provide a designated senior academic member of staff as a contact for matters relating to that school.


7. A suitable governance structure for new interdisciplinary programmes must be in place, to review the programme on an ongoing basis with a view to ensuring what was originally approved is being delivered and making refinements to the way the programme operates, where required.

8. It is recommended that a Governance and Advisory Board is established, which must have appropriate representation from each of the disciplines or unit directors (where there are a number of disciplines involved, this may not be practical and alternative arrangements may be explored). There will be Faculty and School representation as appropriate. 

9. The Board should meet as appropriate but at least once a year to undertake the following tasks and to complete the Annual Programme Review:

10. The outcome of the Annual Programme Review should be sent to all School Education Directors connected to the programme and any relevant actions recorded on the EAP linked to the School taking it forward. The home school should save the outcome of the Annual Programme Review along with their Education Action Plan in SharePoint.  

Programme design

11. All interdisciplinary programme should set out the intellectual basis of the programme in the programme specification. The design of a new interdisciplinary programmes should establish:

Programme Approval

12. The financial arrangements of an interdisciplinary programme are dependent on the detail found within the curriculum design. When developing a business case for a new interdisciplinary programme, the broad academic developments should be considered and discussed with the relevant parties. Consideration must be given as to how the non-teaching elements of an interdisciplinary programme will be resourced (such as marketing and other admin costs). Stakeholders from all disciplines involved in a new programme, including the relevant Faculty Finance representatives must be involved in these discussions as early as possible.

13. The Business case for new interdisciplinary programmes must be agreed and signed by all participating schools and faculties. 

14. Any subsequent high-risk changes to an existing interdisciplinary programme, must be approved by the school and faculty teaching committees of all participating schools.

15. Low-risk programme changes that are agreed outside of the timeframes of the annual Governance and Advisory Board meeting must be discussed and agreed between the Programme Director and the programme leads in the partner schools. Changes must be approved by the owning school and faculty and reported to all participating schools prior to the change being affected. Other schools that contribute units to the programme should consult with the home School on any relevant changes proposed (e.g. withdrawal of unit, change to teaching block).

16. Examples of high-risk and low-risk change can be found here.

Board of Examiners

17. The board of examiners for an interdisciplinary programme may include academic staff and external examiners from the participating schools, as established by the home school. The board will be organised by the home school and report to its Faculty Board of Examiners.

Quality assurance

18. It is the responsibility of the home school, working with the relevant School Education Director from the participating School(s), to ensure that the outcome of the Annual Programme Review conducted by the programme Governance and Advisory Board contributes to the school’s  Education Action Planning (EAP) process.

19. The University Quality Team will assure the quality of the student learning experience specific to an Interdisciplinary programme, by considering the feedback of students on the programme, and by reviewing the impact of programme changes during its review of the home school. An interdisciplinary programme will be included within the UQT review of the home school or department and the outcome of the most recent APR will be included as an evidence source for the panel to review.