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Course identity and integrity

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Course identity and integrity

Two key elements underpinning our Education Plan are strengthening course integrity and course identity.

What do we mean by this?

Course integrity focuses on course coherence and connectedness. Course identity focuses on its distinctiveness, uniqueness, and community.

Both elements benefit the student experience, make content and expectations clear for them, helps students feel like they belong and feel safe and thus help student retention and success.  This is supported in the Advance HE What works report on student success by Professor Liz Thomas.

Courses require both integrity and identity


Course integrity
ensures that a core course provides all students with a foundation and a clear, integrated, learning pathway (based on Biggs work on constructive alignment (Biggs, 1996)) i.e., an integrated clear entity. The course needs to be well organised, well sequenced, have no gaps and be designed to facilitate learning and students’ sense of connection with the subject/ discipline.


Course identity ensures that a course is owned and taught to an identifiable cohort of students by an identifiable team. i.e., a visibly distinctive entity.


A course is more than a collection of modules. A high-quality educational experience requires horizontal and vertical alignment (i.e., along the level and up through each year of the academic levels) of the parts (modules/ themes/ skills) of a course to ensure course coherence and to provide assurance that each student is given the right opportunities to learn at the right time throughout their course.

In a coherent or aligned curriculum, all components in the teaching system, the curriculum and its intended outcomes, the teaching methods, the learning activities, the assessment tasks, and resources to support learning are aligned. When these conditions have been created, the learner finds it difficult to escape without learning (Biggs, 1996).

Try not to just see your course as a bunch of modules - see it as a whole course which is a connected flowing, integrated entity. This connected, integrated approach combined with defined cohorts of both staff and students help give the course its identity.

Here are two documents that ask you to consider a number of questions relating to your course, its identity and integrity. 

Questions about your course identity

Questions about your course integrity.


References can be found in the Talis reading list along with other relevant articles.

The Autumn Forum in November 2021 introduced some ideas and practical applications for developing and strengthening course identity and integrity.

Page last updated: 02/12/2021

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