Issues associated with professional accreditation of UK master's programmes

2012-03-05T12:53:21Z (GMT) by Jane Horner
Traditionally in the UK, the Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) have accredited undergraduate programmes as meeting the educational requirements for registration as a professional engineer. Students follow either a BEng programme, which is three years full time study or an MEng programme, which is four years full time study. MEng programmes have a higher entry requirement than BEng programmes and are expected to produce graduates with both a broader and a deeper knowledge base than a BEng graduate in the same discipline. In 2004, the UK Engineering Council published UKSPEC, which expressed the competences required by professional engineers in terms of outcome statements and set the MEng outcomes as the minimum educational requirement for professional registration. With the introduction of UKSPEC, PEIs have started to accredit MSc programmes as meeting the further learning requirements for a BEng graduate wishing to become a chartered engineer. This has raised a number of issues in both PEIs and UK engineering departments regarding the assessment of the learning outcomes of MScs against the requirements of UKSPEC. These issues include how to determine the level of the learning outcomes and the specific nature of many UK masters programmes. The paper will address both the issues raised by PEIs and the problems encountered by departments. Although this paper is focused on issues related to UK taught postgraduate programmes, the observations on good practice are applicable to the quality assurance procedures of other taught postgraduate programmes.