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Curriculum Design in Higher Education

This module introduces the principles of curriculum design in higher education and examines how curriculum theory is put into practice at both programme and module level. Module participants will explore and critique different models and frameworks of curriculum design, developing insight into how to shape curricula to enhance student learning. The module is structured on an experiential basis and participants are supported to identify effective principles of curriculum design at the session, module, and programme levels. Specifically participants will use one or more curriculum models/frameworks to design/develop a module suitable for use in their own current or future teaching.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module participants will be able to:

  1. Discuss principles, purposes, and challenges relating to curriculum design in higher education.
  2. Demonstrate how one or more model/framework can be used to inform curriculum design/implementation.
  3. Demonstrate critical awareness of the literatures of curriculum design. 
  4. Articulate/illustrate how their professional values about academic practice have been influenced by engagement with this module.


Participants should commit to engaging with continuous formative assessment tasks, e.g. engaging with discussion boards. Those taking the module on a for-credit basis should also submit one of these three assessment tasks:

1. An annotated module outline that includes; module outcomes, assessment structure, teaching and learning strategies, specific of the learning environment, indicative session content (‘curriculum map’), and a module ‘pitch’ or aim suitable for students, The module outline should also contain a critical discussion and rationale for the module’s design and planned implementation. The submission should relate to the curricular design and (planned) delivery of a new or significantly revised module appropriate for the candidate’s current or future teaching context.


2. Two original research-informed Academic Practice-style resources focusing on any aspect of curriculum design (each framed as e.g. 1250-word document or collaborative blog post, c, 5 mins videoclip/podcast, or equivalent). These should typically be targeted to academic staff, students, or staff holding roles supporting teaching and learning.  These could, for example, consist of:

  • An introduction to and discussion of a (potential) approach to curriculum design relevant to your own context
  • A case study or vignette of a curriculum design approach in action
  • A critical evaluation of the benefits/challenges of distinct curriculum design approaches in relation to your own professional context


3. Participants may alternatively develop a critical reflection on the module’s impact on their practice as part of the professional teaching portfolio, e.g. as one of the four elements of the portfolio (total c.7,500 words or word equivalent). This critical reflection might be text-based or developed as a digital artefact. Note: Only candidates who are planning to submit the professional teaching portfolio for the SpCert award may select this option. It is not an assessment option for a standalone module assignment basis.

Assessment workload across each option equates to a circa 10-minute videoclip or other multimedia artefact, c.2000-2500 words text-based document, or an alternative (by discussion with the module coordinator). Where multimedia artefacts are produced, these should be accompanied by a 1-2 page (c. 500-1000) word written critical overview and introduction to the multimedia materials.

A short (annotated) bibliography highlighting key engagement with the literature(s) of curriculum design should accompany all options.

Please see Rubric on page 38 of the handbook.

Module Co-ordinator

Dr Caitriona Ni Shé

Teaching Staff

Dr Caitriona Ni Shé