Program review leads to improvements in undergraduate curricula

All of the proposed curriculum changes to undergraduate programs for the 2007-08 academic year were approved by Senate on November 30, 2007. In addition to a number of course and program deletions, the Bachelor of Arts in French and English have been revamped and students will have access to a major in human rights as well as a minor in Muslim studies.

“These changes represent improvements in both the content of our undergraduate curricula and the process by which needed program revisions are identified,” states Clerk of Senate Brian Mortimer. “Almost all of these changes have come out of the undergraduate program review process.”

In 1996, the Council of Ontario Universities established guidelines for the conduct of regular reviews of undergraduate programs by all universities in the province. This systematic process allows and requires each academic unit to perform periodic critical self-appraisals of its undergraduate programs. The self-appraisal is a study, prepared with the participation of faculty members and the student body, that examines the strengths and weaknesses of each program and the extent to which the program, as delivered, produces the intended learning outcomes. The review also includes external peer assessments.

The process takes 24 months per program to complete and over the past two years, Mortimer has spent a significant proportion of his time overseeing these reviews.

He believes that the changes approved in November reflect the fruits of this labour. “The university has put a lot of energy into this process, including hiring a full-time administrator, Vicki Haydon, to ensure that the reviews go smoothly and are effective,” he observes. “As a result, we’ve gotten some very useful feedback, as reflected by these most recent revisions.”

Professor Paul Keen, who participated in the review of the English curriculum, agrees. “The department undertook a major curriculum review of the bachelor’s program over the past two years. This review led to sweeping changes, which were both overdue and wide-ranging.”

Readers who are interested in the undergraduate program review process can find more information on the Senate website at



BA in English

A range of new courses has been added in areas such as African, Caribbean, South Asian, and Aboriginal literature. Core courses now include a credit requirement (spread across second-, third- and fourth-year courses) in literatures outside of Canada and Britain.

BA in French Interdisciplinary Studies

The new BA in French Interdisciplinary Studies offers students the opportunity to combine the study of French with the study of French-related topics in other departments. Students majoring in this program will complete seven credits in the Department of French, and five credits in other departments such as history, political science, film studies, philosophy, music, Canadian studies, and applied language studies.

Minor in Muslim Studies

This new four-credit minor will offer students a disciplined study of the Muslim culture and civilization; expose students to the profound issues which are raised in Islam that all reflective human beings face such as the meaning of existence; and nurture in students a respect for the complexities of Islam and the Muslim world.

BA in Human Rights

The existing combined honours BA in human rights has been further developed by: expanding the curriculum to include core and elective human rights courses; the restructuring of degree requirements to enable greater flexibility and choice for students; and the addition of two degree options for students: a stand-alone Honours and a General.

This entry was written by Martha Attridge Bufton and posted in the issue. Tags applied to this article are: , . Leave a comment, bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media:

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