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This planning process is particularly important for Dual Honours programmes although the principles will also need to be applied to single honours programmes. However, there is greater flexibility for single honours programmes.
The essential information required to conduct this planning exercise is knowledge of how the module will be delivered e.g. which activities a student must attend. It is very important that the module leaders plan this in advance, otherwise a significant number of changes to module delivery patterns can turn the timetable on its head creating irresolvable student clashes and an unschedulable timetable.
To be completed by end of April
- First identify how many compulsory core modules there are for your programme.
- Next identify how many core activities there are for those modules and ensure they will all fit within the allocated 10 hours of the block. (A core activity is an activity which is not repeated. This is usually a lecture but can also be a seminar or tutorial for level 3 modules with smaller student numbers).
- Check there are sufficient continuous periods to deliver the compulsory core teaching slots (i.e. there is a max of 3 x 2 hour slots in each block which includes an evening slot).
- If your programme consists of a number of optional core modules/programme electives, check to ensure that the core activities will also fit within the block (especially important at level 2 where there are more optional core modules).
- If you have more than 10 hours in total of compulsory and optional core teaching activities then you need to make a scheduling decision:
The first option is to consolidate the modules into lists and schedule them at the same time within the block. (This is only possible if there are sufficient staff to deliver the lectures). E.g. students must choose 1 module from list A and 1 module from list B. This guarantees equality of choice and availability of all students however their choices are restricted by the lists. There is also a greater need for advice and guidance from within the school/personal tutors etc… since these lists cannot be managed within e-vision. The second option is to schedule the most popular optional core/elective modules within the block guaranteeing availability to all students. The rest are scattered throughout the timetable in different blocks. When the students make their selections they will be able to see and choose from all of the modules, however once the student has made their choices, if we then discover they have a clash they will have to choose an alternative option/elective. N.B. It is important to specify before the end of April which block a module is allocated to because if it is also offered as an elective, students who have a principal subject within the same alternative block will not be able to see that module as an elective choice. (This is required to minimise the number of clashes in the increased choice of the NDS).
- Once the Core modules have been dealt with, the same process needs to take place with elective modules. (These must also have a block allocated by the end of April).
- Finally, seminars and tutorials need to be scheduled. It is easier to schedule the modules with the least number of repeated seminars/tutorials first. The rest which have multiple repeats can be scheduled throughout the timetable.
Things to watch out for:
- Programmes which combine honours with programmes in the same block will have restricted hours (i.e. less than 10 - i.e BMTAHIS)
- Modules which are compulsory to programmes in more than 1 block will have to repeat teach or amend delivery (e.g. ECO-20042 is Core for ECODH2 (block 1) and FINDH2 (block 4).
- Modules which are compulsory core for 1 programme and optional core for others may need careful consideration and scheduling first, so that remaining modules can be scheduled around them. (This is particularly an issue for single honours programmes)
- If staff availability/unavailability is known, this can be entered into the timetabling software to help aid the process.
The timetabling unit is happy to work through this planning phase with any of the programme leaders/administrators and/or to validate the final decisions once made.
To be completed by end of July
If the above planning process has taken place the actual scheduling of modules (allocating times & rooms) should be very simple and straight forward. The rules defined above in the planning process will restrict where the core activities can be scheduled and all other activities can be scheduled flexibly throughout the timetable. This data needs to be collected by the end of July when rooms and students will be allocated to teaching activities. This will then allow us to clash check all student module choices and resolve any clashes prior to arrival.
This should also mean that there is far less movement between modules in the first 3 weeks due to timetable clashes.
The scheduling process involves allocating all teaching activities to specific days and times and collecting information about room requirements so appropriate facilities can be allocated.
This process can either be conducted by a member of the timetabling unit coming to sit with school administrators and enter the data directly into the timetabling software. Or we can send out a spreadsheet into which any requirements can be entered.