Co-designing the curriculum with students and employers

The Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) programme was receiving poor feedback from its students, culminating in a score of 64% NSS in 2018. Furthermore, issues raised by the students included: challenges in giving and receiving feedback and programme structure and content.

To tackle this situation Ali Owrak initiated a comprehensive programme review using employers and students as partners to collaboratively develop the programme.

Step 1: Student Focus Groups

The first stage was to complete student focus groups that highlighted all of the issues the students were facing with the programme. Positive findings included the smaller cohort size, the employer engagement and the team projects. However negative findings focused on assessment feedback, delivery of technical content and the imbalance of the programme structure.

Step 2: Employers as Partners

Through the use of surveys, interviews and workshops analysis was completed to understand what exactly employers are looking for out of an undergraduate degree in technology. The outcome of this analysis included 8 themes that defined key behaviours and technical skills required by students. These themes were then used to guide the development of the course units within the ITMB programme.

Step 3: Students as Partners

The next stage used groups of students as pedagogical consultants to design each course unit. The students were set up with an overview of what each module should include and then were left to design the content of the course, the method and structure of the delivery, and the assessment. After this information was collated and the module was fully developed, this plan was then validated back with the students.

The programme was redesigned collaboratively with employers and students. Each course unit now has embedded employer interaction. The NSS score has dramatically improved. Revaluation of course units with students as partners has continued to assess the impact of the initial changes and to improve the student experience.

Watch a brief presentation on the journey to deliver a co-designed curriculum with both employers and students’ active engagement:

Evaluation / Student Feedback

“The process enabled me to see from the university perspective how difficult it is to logistically plan a module. It was really interesting to work alongside the academics to design a module that felt both relevant and challenging for new students. I also feel proud to see how my ideas have been implemented into a new and improved undergraduate degree programme.” – Laura Pemberton

“Being part of the students as partners meetings allowed me to understand the complexity that sits between every lecture and every workshop that gets delivered to us as students. I liked that I had the opportunity to share freely how we can improve the learning experience as well as highlight the important topics we thoughts are essential in the workplace based on our industrial placement experiences” – Catalina Vlad

  • Engages students in evaluating performance
  • Facilitates consolidation of students’ understanding of materials, encouraging better performance, self-testing and autonomous learning
  • Develops students’ capacity to be active, critical and independent learners
  • Helps students develop transferable skills,
Top Tips
  • When undertaking a comprehensive review ensure that you create a working group with influential stakeholders and ensure that all agrements are recorded


School: Alliance Manchester Business School

Discipline: Management

Academic: Ali Owrak

Programme: Bsc Information Technology Management for Business

Cohort Size: 150

Themes: Students as partners, Employability

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