Academic Services


What the Committee achieved from 2012/13 to 2018/19.

Senate Learning and Teaching Committee was closed at the end of Academic Year 2018/19.

Achievements are linked to the University’s Strategic Plan, the Learning and Teaching Strategy and to various surveys, including the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES).


Progress was made in the following key areas:


Progress was made in the following key areas:

University Learning and Teaching Strategy

Learning and Teaching Committee agreed the main strategic priorities for institutional action in 2017-18 and 2018-19 at its November 2017 meeting. An implementation plan was subsequently developed, and progress will be evaluated in September 2018.

Teaching Excellence Framework

While the University's current position is not to participate in the TEF, the Senior Vice-Principal has continued to lead the University's engagement with the development of the TEF and to update LTC. 

Assessment and Feedback

The Committee's Assessment and Feedback Enhancement Group has overseen a range of activities including LEAF audits using a new jointly-run (Schools and IAD) model; introducing new guidance on feedback and assessment; and sharing good practice at Directors of Teaching Network events.

Lecture Recording

A task group was established to develop a policy to support the University's new lecture recording system.  The policy will be introduced in 2018/19 to conincide with further roll-out of the system and its integration with the timetabling system.

Digital Education

A task group, established in 2016/17, has been developing an institutional vision for digital education. The 'Near Future Teaching' project is using future methodologies and participative design thinking to gather input from a wide community of students and staff.  More detail and outputs can be found on the project website.

Research-Led Learning and Teaching

LTC received the final report of the Research-Led Learning and Teaching Task Group.

University-Wide Courses

The Committee received the final report of the University-Wide Courses Task Group, which set out a range of recommendations. The report highlighted the need for programmes and timetables to have sufficient space to allow students to access this type of course, and proposed better ways of publicising existing course options. Schools were consulted on the central recommendations during Semester 2.

Learning Analytics

A task group developed a detailed policy setting out the way in which the University will handle practical issues relating to Learning Analytics eg. data governance, consent and security.

Additional Actions

Progress was also made with the implementation of the University's first Student Partnership Agreement; supporting the Students' Association in introducing a programme-level class representatives system; careers, employability and graduate attributes via a short-life task group; the development of distance learning at scale; computer-based exams; and the University's Widening Participation Strategy.


Progress was made in the following key areas:

Refining the Personal Tutor system, enhancing training and published guidance for Personal Tutors and Student Support Officers, clarifying workload allocation for Personal Tutors, and clarifying how the Personal Tutor scheme applies to Online Distance Learning

The Committee approved several optional enhancements to the Personal Tutor system (guidance on holding meaningful meetings, pre-arrival questionnaires and group practice). In addition, the University introduced student mental health training for Personal Tutors (PTs) and Student Support Officers (SSOs), and enhanced the web-based resources for PTs and SSOs. The Assistant Principal (Academic Support) reviewed the way in which the PT scheme applies to ODL students. LTC explored the future strategic direction of the peer learning and support, which is being supported and developed by the Students’ Association.

Implementing changes to the academic year structure

In summer 2016, following a thorough review process, LTC decided not to make any changes to the University’s academic year structure.

Overseeing development of Continuing Professional Development for Learning and Teaching

LTC discussed progress on the implementation of the University’s overarching CPD framework relating to learning and teaching, noting good progress in terms of positive feedback from participants and increasing levels of participation. The Committee noted that the main barrier to further increases in participation is staff workload (both for staff participating in the scheme and for mentors). The Committee recognised the importance of Heads of Schools supporting the framework, and therefore referred the matter to the April 2017 meeting of Academic Strategy Group (ASG) for further consideration. LTC also oversaw the development of new guidance to support Peer Observation of Teaching.

Transitions Enhancement Theme – institutional coordination and oversight

LTC continued to oversee this work, which has been managed by an Institutional Team. A successful ‘Gearing up for Transitions 2017’ event took place on 9 March 2017, sharing best practice and providing opportunities for students to talk about their experiences of transitions in, through and out of university.  A number of projects were funded, and the University’s external engagement with the Theme continued, including a number of proposals being accepted for the Quality Assurance Agency’s Enhancement Themes conference in June 2017. This will be the last year of the ‘Transitions’ theme – the QAA (Scotland) will announce the next theme in June 2017.

Leading Enhancement in Assessment and Feedback (LEAF) Project

There has been good progress regarding LEAF, with three programme audits across three Schools undertaken in 2016-17 under the leadership of the Assistant Principal Assessment and Feedback. In total 27 programmes across 13 Schools and all three Colleges have now undergone an audit. The LEAF project continues to prove helpful in identifying areas for enhancement, and Colleges have found the process helpful. The Assessment and Feedback Enhancement Group has been reviewing evidence of the impact of these audits.

Taking forward recommendations from the Task Group on Innovation in Teaching and Learning, including implementing changes to Innovative Learning Week

The Committee initiated two significant strands of work to follow up the recommendations of the Task Group on Innovation in Teaching and Learning: developing the University’s approach to research-led learning and teaching, and developing a framework for University-wide courses. These groups aim to report early in 2017-18.

The Committee also oversaw changes in the use of the week between Teaching Blocks 3 and 4, from Innovative Learning Week to a Flexible Learning week which Schools can use for a broader range of purposes. Alongside this, the Committee oversaw the launch of a Festival of Creative Learning, which includes a programme of activities running throughout the academic year and curated activities within Flexible Learning Week. LTC evaluated the impact of these changes at its May 2017 meeting.

Developing a policy framework / guidance to support Lecture Capture technologies

The Committee endorsed a proposal (subsequently approved by Court) to accelerate the introduction of a reliable and comprehensive lecture recording system. The University has now chosen a supplier and the new lecture recording system will replace existing provision in 116 locations across the University in time for the start of the 2017-18 session. The Committee has established a sub-group to develop a policy to support the new system. The group plans to develop a draft policy and guidance over summer 2017, with a wider consultation on the draft anticipated in Semester 1 2017-18. The new policy is expected to be approved in time for the 2018-19 session, to coincide with integration of the lecture recording system with the timetable system.  Existing School-level policy arrangements will continue in the meantime.

Feeding into Knowledge Strategy Committee’s work on developing a policy regarding Learning Analytics

LTC and Knowledge Strategy Committee approved the establishment of a Learning Analytics Policy Task Group which is developing and consulting on an institutional Policy on Learning Analytics. The Group sought approval from LTC and KSC for a set of Principles and Objectives in May/June 2017, and is now developing a more detailed policy and procedure setting out how the University will handle issues such as data governance, consent and security.

 New priorities identified and progressed during the session

  • LTC initiated the development of a Student Partnership Agreement, which will be an explicit statement of the way in which the institution and the student body will work in partnership. Work on the Agreement will continue into 2017/18 to take account of the views of incoming Student Sabbatical Officers.
  • In response to feedback from Schools, LTC agreed that from Semester 2 2016/17, Schools would no longer have to submit reports regarding feedback turnaround times, although Heads of Schools remain accountable for implementing Taught Assessment Regulation 16 and ensuring that there are systems in place to identify and address breaches. The Course Evaluation Questionnaire, which includes a question about feedback, will play a key role in monitoring the quality of assessment and feedback in future.
  • The Committee approved a new University Student Mental Health Strategy.
  • LTC discussed how to align the University’s Space and Learning and Teaching Strategies.
  • LTC established a Digital Education Task Group to consider how the future of digital education at Edinburgh might be designed.


Progress was made in the following key areas:

  • Co-ordinating and supporting activities to address issues raised by the National Student Survey (NSS) and other surveys
  • Developing a new publication to replace the Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduate Programmes
  • Oversight of institutional activities relating to the Transitions Enhancement Theme
  • Feedback on assessment - implementing recommendations from the 2014-15 Internal Audit report, including developing quality standards for feedback
  • Overseeing the Leading Enhancement in Assessment and Feedback (LEAF) / Transforming the Experience of Students Through Assessment (TESTA) Project
  • Supporting pilot activities to explore innvative learning and teaching using IT and other modern methods
  • Continuation of work to develop a strategic framework for Online Distance Learning
  • In partnership with Knowledge Strategy Committee, undertaking work to develop a University policy on Learning Analytics
  • Promoting research-led and independently-directed learning
  • Responding to the outcomes of Higher Education Academy discussions on Grade Point Averages (GPA)
  • Ongoing development of a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Framework for Learning and Teaching
  • Reviewing the University's academic year structure
  • Monitoring the implications of the Green Paper 'Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice', including the implications of a possible Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)
  • Lecture Capture
  • Use of student data
  • Use of the week between Teaching Blocks 3 and 4 in 2016-17 and 2017-18

More detailed information about the above activity can be found in Paper B at:


Emerging Vision for Learning and Teaching

The Committee's key priority for 2014/15 was the development of the University's Emerging Vision for Learning and Teaching. The Learning and Teaching Committee (LTC) oversaw extensive consultation regarding the Vision, and the information gathered was presented at the May 2015 meeting of LTC and the June 2015 meeting of Senate.

Enhancing Student Support Project

LTC monitored the Student Support Implementation Group's (SSIG's) work on evaluating, mainstreaming and enhancing the undergraduate Personal Tutor system.

Leading Enhancement in Assessment and Feedback (LEAF)

The Committee continued to provide oversight for this Project, which is making use of the TESTA methodology. Nine programmes across two Colleges went through the TESTA audit. The methodology supports Schools to rationalise their assessment schedules, identify and share good practice, and map students' experiences onto everyday classroom practices.

Information Services Learning Technology Projects

Significant progress was made with the following Projects:

  • Open Education Resource Strategy
  • Learning Analytics
  • Assessment and Feedback Tool Pilots

Curriculum for Excellence

The Committee continued to monitor the implications for the University of Curriculum for Excellence. It also considered impending changes to A-levels in England.

Enhancement Themes - Student Transitions

LTC provided oversight for work in this area and received regular updates. An Institutional Team was established to develop, coordinate and (where appropriate) deliver a programme of work relating to the Theme; communicate about Enhancement Theme developments; and act as key Enhancement Theme contacts.

Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR)

The Committee discussed and approved some new categories of achievement for inclusion in the HEAR, and changes to existing categories of achievement.

Task Groups/Working Groups

The following Task Groups operated during the year, overseen by Learning and Teaching Committee:

  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
  • Grade Point Averages (GPA)
  • Online Distance Education
  • Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduate Programmes Review


Future Learning and Teaching Strategy

Learning and Teaching Committee's primary focus during 2013/14 was future learning and teaching strategy and its governance. "An Emerging Design for Learning and Teaching", a document which proposes wide-ranging and ambitious ideas for the curriculum and its delivery, was developed.

Enhancing the Student Experience

The Committee:

  • oversaw the development of a "Vision for the Student Experience at the University of Edinburgh"
  • reviewed the impact of the "Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy"
  • made significant progress with "Exemplars of Excellence in Student Education"
  • discussed and moved forward a number of technology-enhanced learning projects

External Developments

Learning and Teaching Committee engaged with the following external developments:

  • Curriculum for Excellence
  • Grade Point Averages Project
  • Mapping against UK Quality Code Chapter B3: Learning and Teaching
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Additional Achievements

  • Recognition of Prior Learning - initiation of a project with Student Recruitment and Admissions to develop a University policy on "Recognition of Prior Learning in Admissions".
  • School Learning and Teaching Enhancement Strategies - development of guidance to assist Schools as they develop the learning and teaching-related content of their annual plans.


Eight work strands were identified at the start of the academic year:

  1. Enhancing Student Support project
  2. Employability
  3. Flexible Pathways
  4. NSS Returns and Feedback
  5. Continuing Professional Development for Learning and Teaching
  6. Student Engagement
  7. MOOCs Task Group
  8. Resits and Supplementary Assessment

Reports were received from the Task Group on Tutoring and Demonstrating, the Employability Strategy Group, the Colleges, and EUSA.

The following progress was made by the Committee over the course of the academic year:

  • Enhancing Student Support Project - regular reports were received, and progress monitored.
  • Learning and Teaching Enhancement Strategy - the University's Strategy was reviewed, updated and approved. Draft Learning and Teaching Enhancement Strategy Templates for use by Schools were developed, and their suitability considered.
  • Flexible Pathways - discussions were initiated.
  • Student Surveys - these were considered on a regular basis, and appropriate action taken.
  • Continuing Professional Development for Learning and Teaching - an overarching framework for CPD relating to learning and teaching was approved.
  • MOOCs Task Group - a remit was developed and approved.
  • Resits and Supplementary Assessment - outline recommendations and related, proposed work streams aiming to reduce the number of resits were approved and explored.
  • Equality Act: Adjustments - the Committee approved the mainstreaming of a number of common adjustments required for disabled students for implementation at the start of the academic year 2013/14.
  • External Developments - the Committee engaged with a number of external developments including Curriculum for Excellence, Enhancement Themes and Quality Code mapping.