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The potential for muddle and confusion are rife! This is a major dilemma for the designers of CBMS. It requires a radical review of existing ways of looking at the university and an attempt to align a curriculum delivery model, which stresses flexibility and the breakdown of barriers with organizational structures, which by definition reinforce barriers. If the worst elements of matrices are to be avoided (namely staff have more than one master) then the circle needs to be squared. This can be achieved by implementing an approach that requires the curriculum to be managed collectively rather than, as is traditional, by separate and often powerful heads of departments or deans of faculty.
The number of hours available for the topic becomes a more critical factor in determining that content than previously. The preciseness of the expected learning outcomes or objectives becomes a matter for public scrutiny as does the nature and timing of the assessment and the regime behind that assessment. The form of marking (grade, literal or numerical, criteria and level) all become externally imposed. For managers the balance shifts towards greater centralization, since standardization is required in terms of, for example, timetabling and other working practices.
In its most pure form it provides a single standard framework which is embedded right across the institution. Whatever the academic discipline concerned, deviation from the standard is carefully controlled. In this classical form modules will be the same size measured in notional hours; they will be delivered within a common time frame, usually either a semester or term; they will be assessed within the time frame of the module itself and on the basis of common principles relating to assessment criteria, grades and regulations.