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Programme handbooks

What is a programme handbook?

A programme handbook:

  • is a reference document for a specific programme or group of programmes;
  • contains generic and programme specific information, or signposts to that information, that each group of students needs to know throughout their programme;
  • is written specifically for a student audience although it can also act as a useful reference for staff, professional bodies etc;
  • should ideally be produced in identical versions in hard copy and on the web;
  • be structured around a common list of contents (see below).  This list indicates the minimum information that all programme handbooks should include. The contents checklist will be web-based and will link to good practice examples.
  • is not a substitute for student induction, but should complement it.

What is the status of the programme handbook?

The programme handbook forms part of the University's contract with a student.  It is therefore recommended that students are asked to sign when they receive their programme handbook and please make handbooks available to students before or during induction.

Format and style

Programme handbooks should:

  • Be written in a friendly style, referring to the reader as 'you' and the School as 'we';
  • Be clear and concise;
  • Use a standard size of type face that must be readable (or can be made to be readable) by visually impaired students;
  • Provide sufficient white space in margins and between paragraphs;
  • Not duplicate material that is available elsewhere in the University;
  • Use some form of flexible binding where possible;
  • Include standard text provided by the University on regulatory matters;
  • Be readable and look professional without being expensive to produce.

For suggested contents to be included in a programme handbook, please see the Contents Checklist in the left hand side of this page.