Designing Curriculum Content
This inclusive teaching guide is aligned to Baseline Standard 1 and the Professional Standards Framework A1 . It provides general advice on how you can make your curriculum content more inclusive.
Embed skill development
- Embed academic skill development into your modules, ensuring that anything which is assessed (either implicitly or explicitly) is also taught. See Develop your students' academic literacies (University of Leeds Library)
- Academic study skills aid transition into Higher Education for your students, particularly those from marginalised and minoritised backgrounds, or people who have not studied for a long time. It reduces the need for your students with specific learning differences to seek additional support1 and also refreshes the knowledge and approaches used by all students. Try to avoid assumptions about prior knowledge and skills, unless this relates to the entry requirements that you know your students have met.
- This should also include writing skills where students are expected to produce written work in a particular style or follow conventions for a subject or discipline.
Make your curriculum inclusive
- Anticipate that a broad range of students will want to, and are entitled to, access the course. Their needs and identities should be taken into account. Six key principles of inclusive curriculum design:
- These principles reflect equality legislation and tie in with the ideas behind Universal Design for Learning3 so that accessibility for all is integrated into your modules from the very beginning.
Make your curriculum globally and culturally mobile
- Include ideas, concepts and reading lists that relate to global issues including those that are presented by different communities. This relates to reading materials. For instance, the global south, feminist and LGBTQ+ literature.
- Incorporate perspectives towards subject matter and reading lists that deliver more varied and inclusive approaches. This will ensure that your course considers various narratives and views. This may help to address contemporary and systemic issues or inequalities It may also respond to the needs of a diverse, multicultural and globally mobile student body.
- Find out more about the University’s commitment to decolonising and access a range of resources on our Decolonising webpages.
Include diversity for positive change in student experience
- Ensure that your curriculum incorporates intercultural perspectives and reflects the diversity of your students.
- Being able to identify with the material being presented is likely to enhance learning by making it more memorable and relevant.5
- Provide opportunities for your students to interact with those from different backgrounds and with differing diversity profiles, and consider how this could also be built into assessment.
- Research shows that this enriches students’ knowledge and understanding of the world, making them more able to accept differing perspectives and improving problem solving abilities.6
Be culturally sensitive
- Avoid activities which might culturally exclude your students due to presumed knowledge of Anglocentric or Eurocentric references.
- Ensuring all your students feel included will provide a more positive learning experience for all. Using examples that people understand will aid their learning.7
- Ensure students have a safe space and opportunity to reflect and comment on course content e.g. module evaluation feedback. It is helpful to show how you are taking student feedback on board as this will encourage engagement. Make sure students are clear about the different ways they can give feedback, both formally and informally.
Use content notes
- If you anticipate that some of your students may feel sensitive about particular topics covered in your curriculum, follow good practice advice on providing 'content notes'. These will support students in taking ownership of their learning and are a way of facilitating critical thinking through conversations about the challenges that we face when dealing with difficult topics.
- This MS Sway has been produced by colleagues in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures, with support from their Student Advisory Board (UoL access only): Faculty of AHC Content Notes Principles and Guidance
Guide written by Dr Amrita Mukherjee and Jenny Brady | Updated November 2022 by Jenny Brady, Mike Kerr and Steven Gleadhall
© University of Leeds 2022 | Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)
- Wray, J., Aspland, J., Taghzouit, J. and Pace, K. (2013) Making the nursing curriculum more inclusive for students with specific learning difficulties (SpLD): embedding specialist study skills into a core module. Nurse education today, 33(6), pp.602-607.
- Morgan, H. and Houghton, A., (2011: 7) Inclusive Curriculum Design in Higher Education. York: Higher Education Academy, pp.7
- Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). (2012). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines Version 2.0. Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/Udlguidelines (Accessed Sep 2016)
- Biggs, J., (1997) Teaching Across and Within Cultures: The Issue of International Students in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Advancing International Perspectives. HERDSA Conference Proceedings, Adelaide, 8-11 July.
- Hussain, M (2015) Why is My Curriculum White? National Union of Students. Available at http://www.nus.org.uk/en/news/why-is-my-curriculum-white/ (Accessed: July 2016)
- Chang, M.J., Denson, N., Sanex, V and Kimberly, M. (2006) “The educational benefits of sustaining cross-racial interaction among undergraduates”, Journal of Higher Education, 77 (3): 430-55 at 449
- Carroll, J. and J. Ryan, Eds. (2005). Teaching International Students: Improving learning for all. London, Routledge.