Standards for curricula and assessment review

We've developed new standards for postgraduate medical curricula, which we published in May 2017.

We worked with stakeholders to develop a new set of standards for the design and development of curricula and programmes of assessment. These standards aim to help simplify, clarify and improve processes for the approval and quality assurance of curricula.

See the new set of standards and its supplementary guidance on assessment and generic professional capabilities, at Excellence by design: standards for postgraduate curricula.

Why we reviewed the standards

As part of our work quality assuring medical education and training, we approve postgraduate medical educational curricula and programmes of assessment to make sure they meet our statutory requirements.

Our Standards for curricula and assessment systems (pdf), which we use to evaluate all specialty training curricula including those for general practice, were written almost ten years ago. So we needed to bring them up to date and make sure they take account of developments in postgraduate training and assessment.

The new standards also had to consider other areas of our work.


What we did in the review

In 2015 we held preliminary discussions with key interest groups to identify any concerns with our current standards, and to help us develop the organising principles for the revised standards for curricula and assessment. 

During 2015 we also reviewed and identified areas of challenge or concern from our own internal quality assurance of postgraduate medical curricula. And we commissioned expert advice on identifying key principles in contemporary professional curriculum and assessment framework design.

During 2016 we discussed our emerging thinking with all the medical royal colleges and faculties and heard their views.

We worked with an external advisory group (EAG) and other groups and boards to get feedback on early drafts of the standards, and we held a UK stakeholder day in June 2016, which helped us develop a set of draft standards for consultation.

We consulted on the draft standards during September and October 2016.

We have undertaken an equality analysis for the review, and we've produced an equality statement (pdf) summarising what we're doing to comply with our equality duty and to make sure we properly understand the effects of any changes.


We held a public consultation from 5 September to 28 October 2016.

We developed draft standards for the design and development of curricula and regulated credentials, and asked those with an interest in medical education and training if we had got the standards right.

We also asked about how we might apply the standards in order to reduce regulatory burden, where appropriate, and to better support those organisations designing and developing curricula and credentials to meet our standards.

You can read the draft standards (pdf) and the consultation document (pdf) but the consultation is now closed and the new standards have been published.


Assessment guidance

As part of this review, we developed guidance on assessment which we published alongside the standards in May 2017.

To help us get the guidance right, we met with groups of assessment experts, who reviewed drafts of the guidance and helped us make sure it was up to date and relevant.

Expert advice

In late 2015 we invited tenders to give us expert advice on identifying key principles for consistency and reliability in curricula and assessment frameworks.

We commissioned Health Professional Assessment Consultancy (HPAC) to provide this advice, which helped us shape the standards and was particularly useful to us in developing the assessment guidance.

Read the final report (pdf) on identifying key principles for consistency and reliability in curricula and assessment frameworks.

Next steps

We consulted on the draft standards during September and October 2016. Following consultation we analysed the responses and continued to work with the EAG and others to develop our new curriculum standards, which we published in May 2017.

Alongside the standards, we launched a number of pieces of supplementary guidance.

  • guidance on assessment
  • the Generic professional capabilities framework, and guidance for implementation
  • advice and application forms for our revised processes for approving curricula and curriculum changes.

We will continue to work closely with colleges and faculties to support them as we implement the new standards and processes.

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