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Case study - Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance was awarded taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) in 2016. There are around 750 full-time First Degree students, and approximately 370 academic staff (most staff are on a part-time basis). Involvement in the Degree Standards project was driven by the Deputy Registrar (Academic Administration and Quality) who works closely with academic staff, the student union and the wider study body in an advisory capacity on a range of issues including quality assurance. 

The Degree Standards project was an opportunity to broaden the internal staff development offer, which was limited to relatively short sessions on quality assurance and programme enhancements. There are synergies with institutional priorities in the learning and teaching strategy towards improving general assessment and feedback mechanisms. Engagement with the Professional Development Course for external examiners (PDC) has been an opportunity to put a focus on calibration in advance of assessment, particularly for postgraduate provision. By July 2019 half of the programme leaders at Trinity Laban had taken part in the professional development. Most participants so far did not hold an external examining appointment. The main challenge to delivering the course has been ensuring sufficient take-up. Colleagues have joined in from another institution boosting attendance and providing interesting discussion in terms of encouraging holistic thinking on subject level standards including contemporary developments in music provision, and putting the focus on the national framework across different providers. The hope is for the course to be part of the professional development calendar, perhaps on an annual basis, and faculty heads are supportive of this. 

Involving incoming external examiners has been identified as a potential way of increasing the inputs from experienced external examiners. There is also potential interest in delivering professional development in partnership with other related small specialist institutions regionally in order to share the burden and make the provision more sustainable.