chapter  18
Key aspects of teaching and learning in engineering
WithJohn Dickens, Carol Arlett
Pages 18

Curricula in engineering have for many years been heavily influenced by the requirements of accreditation by the professional institutions. Historically, accreditation guidelines have prescribed minimum contents of subdisciplines, admissions standards and even contact hours. In recent years there has been a significant move away from prescription and admission standards to output standards. The QAA Subject Benchmarking statements for engineering, first published in 2000, defined a set of standards in terms of knowledge and understanding, intellectual abilities, practical skills and general transferable skills that an engineering graduate should have attained. Almost in parallel, the Engineering Professors’ Council produced a set of output standards and in 2004 the Engineering Council published UK-SPEC (ECUK, 2004) which adopted output standards for professional accreditation for the first time. The existence of three sets of output standards, despite being broadly similar, caused concern that was resolved in 2006 when all three parties agreed to adopt UK-SPEC as the output standard and the QAA published a revised benchmark statement that formalised this (QAA, 2006). The move to output standards has led to degree programmes being defined in terms of a set of learning outcomes (see Chapter 4). This has had an impact on programme design and on assessment strategies that enable students to demonstrate the attainment of learning outcomes.