Defining Curriculum

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On the curriculum design and evaluation module on wednesday 18th April 2012 we had a great discussion about definitions of curriculum. Barnett et al (2001) and Fraser (2006) believed there was limited discussion of this term in higher education however this has changed at City University London over the last few years.

The group spent some time discussing what this term meant to them and their students. The discussion included references to:

  • was this about the module/programme content
  • the subjects taught and assessment of this
  • the competencies of the students
  • what the graduate would be at the end
  • a journey for the student
  • developing an individual
  • quality assurance delivery and recieving
  • promoting a change in behaviour linked to a role in society
  • is this about the programme and the university part of a programme only or was this about the entire educational experience

There was much discussion about how we need to define this for our students if we wish them to understand what the term means.

Professor Susannah Quinsee and I have defined this for our purposes for the PREDICT project and this definition is the

“Curriculum relates to all aspects of the student experience during their programme both within the institution and beyond which enable them to engage in their learning and achieve their potential” (Parker & Quinsee 2012:51).


Barnett R, Parry G & Coate K (2001) Conceptualising Curriculum Change Teaching in Higher Education Vol. 6 No 4 p435-449

Fraser S P (2006) Shaping the University Curriculum through Partnerships and Critical Conversations International Journal for Academic Development Vol. 11 No.1 p5-17

Parker P & Quinsee S (2012) Facilitating Institutional Change in Higher Education International Journal of learning Vol.18 (5) p.49-59

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One Response

  1. angeladove

    May 21, 2012 8:45 pm

    In relation to your definition, I thought this feedback from a student on the Reflective Practitioner elective module might be of interest; it relates to the final public exhibition of their work at the end of the 11 week module:

    “The experience of presenting the learning outcomes of the module to an external audience was beneficial to our understanding of our potential.”



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