Module Catalogue Direct Entry
New Course/Module Approval and Module Amendment
Information for ASSU Authorisers
Direct Entry for New Course/Module Approval and Module Amendment
The University has introducing a new system of direct data entry to the module catalogue for new and amended modules. The purpose of this initiative is to ensure that the catalogue is as accurate as possible and to avoid duplication of effort within the University. The new system will ensure that only the definitive and approved version of the module descriptor is available for consultation on the web and will enable people involved in new course development within and across School boundaries to access the most up-to-date information.
The approval process itself, whereby School Boards and University committees consider new courses and modules and major amendments to existing modules, remains the same. The direct data entry system links with our existing approval procedures and is part of an electronically administered process designed to deliver more accurate and accessible information.
ModCat is used to process
- all amendments to existing modules and all new modules which come forward for approval by Chair's Action.
- and all new modules and any existing module that is to be amended and included in a new course proposal to go forward for approval by a University Course Approval and Review Team (CART).
This document is intended to supplement the online guidance available to Academic Standards Administrators and to explain the different procedures that need to be followed in order to gain approval for new and amended modules.
Who Can Use the System?
It is for Schools to decide who should be allowed to submit new or amended descriptors. Schools may nominate as many authorised Users as they require.
- Some Schools will want to limit access to Course Co-ordinators or Course Administrators and Secretaries so only they can input new modules and module amendments.
- Some Schools will want each member of academic staff to manage their own new modules and module amendments.
- Some Schools will want to send all their amendments and new modules via their Director of Undergraduate Studies/Quality
- Ask the School Administrator to submit a list of authorised Users and to keep the list updated as staff join and leave the University or as their roles change within the School.
- The School Administrator will need to specify which areas of the module catalogue the User is permitted to access, e.g., modules from their own department or modules from the whole School.
You will set up User access via the Modcat User database in ModCat Authoriser and allocate each authorised person a user name and a password that will permit secure access to all the module descriptors currently on ISIS for their area of the School.
The User, in agreement with the relevant Dean, School Administrator or Director of Undergraduate Studies, may be given access to a wider range of descriptors within the University if necessary.
Note: Full instructions about how to Authorise modules using ModCat and how to set up User access are available on the web at You can have the web guidance running whilst ModCat is open and work the through the system step by step. If you have any problems give me a ring on 3027.
There’s lots of information included in the web guidance which you may find useful once you are more familiar with the system. But initially, if you are primarily concerned with the practicalities of processing descriptors sent to you, you really only need to concentrate on the area entitled
The information that follows is supplemental to the web-guidance, it is intended to provide some additional explanation about certain features of the electronic form and to clarify the process of approval using this system.
Receiving Module Amendments to be approved by Chair’s Action
1.School Users will complete the electronic module entry form using the online guidance,
and will send their descriptor to you for authorisation.
2.When you access the Authoriser area you will be told if there are any descriptors waiting for you to open. If new descriptors have arrived access them by going to the File menu or the icon and clicking on Open Descriptor Awaiting Attention.
Each module will have a file name extension:
AP0307MCURRENT THIS YEAR VSN The version taught this year
AP0307MCURRENT NEXT YEAR VSNThe version taught from next year onwards
New modules will be identified by the first eight letters of the module title and the file name extension. NEW MODULE FOR NEXT YEAR
When you click on the module the title will appear along with some text asking you if this is really the module you want to open. If it is – say OK
What are all the different pages for?
3.The electronic form is made up of 6 pages. To move between the pages click on the page tabs at the top of the form.
Pages 1-5 contain the module descriptor information and page 6, the Notes and Covering Statement Page, contains the request for Chair’s Action.
This information is entered into pro forma which must be properly completed by the User so that the Chair has enough information to base their approval decision on and so that ASSU staff have enough information to amend the Standard Programme Details.
Making sure the correct version of the module appears on the Web
4.You will see 3 buttons at the bottom of page 1
- For This Year Only
- From Next Year Onwards
- For Both Years
It’s important that the correct button is selected so that the approved version of a module isn’t accidentally overwritten.
- If the amendment is to take effect during the current academic year but the Users wants to revert to the original version of the module next year they should send you the CURRENT THIS YEAR VSN and choose the For This Year Only button. The amendment will only overwrite the current version of the module – next year’s version will be unaffected.
- If next year’s version of a module is to be amended but the User doesn’t want the amendment to effect the current year’s version, they should send you the CURRENT NEXT YEAR VSN and choose the From Next Year Onwards button. The amendment will only overwrite the next year’s version of the module, not this year’s version.
- If the User wants to make a change to a module and wants to apply the change to the current academic year and next year as well they should open the CURRENT THIS YEAR VSN of the module and choose the For Both Years button. The amendment will then overwrite the module record for both years.
Printing out copies of the Descriptor and Notes and Covering Statement Page
5.When you are sure that the descriptor information is accurate and that the correct overwrite button is checked print out the module and notes page and send them for Chair’s approval.
To print hard copies of the descriptor click the print icon on the top tool bar.
- This saves a copy of the descriptor to your MC print folder on your C drive. It appears as a file with the suffix – rtf. You can now print a hard copy of the descriptor when required.
6.To print a hard copy of the Notes and Covering Statement Page click the icon on the toolbar
- This saves a copy of the Notes and Covering Statement Page to the MC print folder on your C drive. It appears as a file with the suffix TXT. You can now print a hard copy of the Notes and Covering Statement Page when required.
In the first instance the file is saved to your MC print folder on your C drive, it is not possible to divert the save to any other area of your server. You can copy the file to another area of your server if required.
The file is automatically formatted by the system so that the descriptor information fits on 1 page of A4 paper. If the narrative is very long you may have to change the font size to 11point in order to fit it onto one page.
- At present ModCat does not have its own spell-checker so when you access the descriptor text file you will need to run the spell checker and make any amendments both within the text file and within the ModCat version. Click the button within ModCat after making any spelling corrections.
Returning a Module to the User
8.If you or the Chair of any of the Committees are not satisfied with the information that’s been sent you can send the submission back to the User for remedial action.
You can do this by clicking the icon. This sends the descriptor back to the User and puts it in their ISIS Descriptor for Editing area
- The system asks you if you want to delete the Messages to Authoriser before you send the descriptor back, SAY YES. This saves confusion when they send the descriptor back yet again as you will not have 2 sets of User Messages to wade through
- A box called Compose Returned Descriptor Message will appear. At this point you have 3 options:
1.If you click the Send no message button the User will never know that you have send the descriptor back so it’s best to ignore this one. This option is only there for use in cases where the User knows they are getting the descriptor back and they know they have to go back into it and edit it – e.g. in cases where you discussing the return with them on the phone as you send it back.
2.The Send default message button sends a standard message telling them the descriptor has been returned but does not give any details about why it has been returned. (So this isn’t a great deal of help either unless they already know what’s going on).
- The best button to use is the Send bespoke message button. This button provides you with a text box that you can type in to inform the User why the descriptor has been returned.
- When you have finished your message click the Message Completed button and the descriptor will be returned to the User for further editing.
The User will be notified automatically that the descriptor has been returned and will be able to read your message.
Back to the Descriptor…
9.If you have printed a copy of the descriptor and Notes page out to send to the Chair for action or to the CART for approval, exit the descriptor by choosing File and Close Current Document.
At this point the system will ask you if you want to transfer the descriptor from the Descriptors Awaiting Attention area to the Descriptors Awaiting Approval area. If you are sending the descriptor for Chair’s Action say Yes to permit the transfer.
10.If the Committee Chair or CART feel that the descriptor requires further development you access it via the icon and click the icon to return it to the user.
11.When the approval process is complete and the documents have been returned with all the relevant Committee signatures, click the icon to automatically update ISIS with the new version of the descriptor. This update takes place overnight so the new approved version will be accessible via prowess or the web the next morning.
12.Updating the ISIS Front Page for Examination Purposes
Please Note: There isn’t an automatic update from the mode of assessment field on ISIS to the ISIS front page so if the Chair’s Action involves a change to the mode of assessment you must remember to access the ISIS module front page and change the information held there. You will need to change the ‘Examined’ field and the ‘Length of Exam’ field accordingly.
13.Send the User a hard copy of the approved version, including the signatures of the Committee Chair’s in the normal way.
14.You can print out a copy of any approved descriptor via the Prowess Home Page or by calling a module up from the system and saving it to your hard disk.
The process for receiving and authorising a new module is very similar but slightly more complex.
New modules as part of an existing course of study to be approved by Chair’s Action
1.When the new module arrives in the Authoriser application: If the new module is an addition to an existing course check that a request for Chair’s Action and a reading list have been included in the Notes page (page 6 of the electronic form).
The User should also send, via the internal mail
- A new module proposal form
- Clarification of who the changes will effect the structure of the degree programme.
Print the module and Chair’s Action request out and send them for approval. When the approval process is complete click the icon on toolbar to automatically update ISIS with the new descriptor.
New and amended modules as part of a new course proposal
Please Note: Unless there is a real problem in a department, for instance, not having anyone trained to use ModCat or long term staff sickness, we would expect the modules connected with any detailed new course proposal to be submitted using the ModCat system – therefore the hard copies sent to you should be in ModCat format
2.Schools will use ModCat as a kind of word processor for preparing new (and amended modules) and will only send you the electronic version of the new module or amended module when you tell them that it has been approved by the CART.
When the CART has considered the proposal you will need to contact the Course Planning Team and ask them to send through the electronic versions of the new and amended modules. If the CART requires further module amendments you can let the CPT know at this time so that the amendments can be made before the electronic version is sent.
If the new module is part of a new degree course check that the User has included a reading list in the Notes page along with the title of the new degree programme so you know which course document to tie it up with.
Prior to the CART you would still expect to receive in hard copy
- A new course proposal form
- A rationale document
- A Programme Specification
- Any course specific regulations
- New module proposal forms
- A complete set of new and amended modules to be included in the course
- When CART approval is complete:
- Send a copy of Programme Specification to Laura so that she can build the course on SAINT
- Laura will provide you with new module numbers for you to insert into the appropriate ModCat record.
- Then click the icon on toolbar to automatically update ISIS with the new descriptor. The update will appear immediately in either the ‘current’ or the ‘next year’ area of ISIS depending on its designation.
- Remember to email a list of the new module numbers the School
Administrator or course contact.
The next 4 pages contain flow charts with accompanying notes which have been developed to explain the approval process to Users in Schools who are submitting new and amended modules via ModCat. It details the arrangements for submitting new and amended modules as part of a detailed new course proposal and as a Chair’s Action submission.
Please take the time to go through this information, as it is very relevant in terms of how and when ASAs receive module information to be submitted to CART.
Academic Standards and Support Unit
The Approvals Process using ModCat
Inputting new modules and amending existing modules to be included in a detailed new course proposal for approval by a Course Approval and Review Team
- Access ModCat using your user name and password.
- Open and amended the existing module. Alternatively open a new blank module and input the new descriptor information.
Remember: If the new module is very similar to an existing module remember you can open the existing module, go to file and choose save as. Give the new module a name and just edit out or add information as required.
- Complete the pro-forma in the Notes and Covering Statement page. All that is required is the name of the new degree course the amended module is to become part of and a statement confirming that the module has been approved by the School Board once the appropriate meeting has taken place.
- Save and print a copy of the Descriptor and include it in the detailed new course documentation for consideration and approval by your School Board/ School Academic Programmes Committee. You don't need a copy on the Notes and Covering Statement page in this instance.
- Close the new or amended descriptor
- As part of its consideration of the detailed new course proposal the School Board or SAPC will either approve the new or amended modules as they stand or ask for amendments to be made.
- It amendments are required open the new or amended module, make the alterations and print out a new copy of the descriptor. Close the descriptor without sending it to your ASA.
- The detailed new course proposal, including all the new and amended modules should now be sent to your ASA in hard copy for consideration by the CART.
- Once the meeting has taken place your ASA will contact you with details of any amendments required by the CART. Open the descriptor and make the amendments as required. Then click the icon to send the descriptor to your ASA. Alternatively, the modules may be approved without further amendment and your ASA will contact you to this effect and ask that the modules be sent electronically for update.
- New module numbers will be allocated and you will be notified by email. Electronic update of ISIS will take place overnight.
The Approval Process using ModCat