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Senate terms of reference

The terms of reference for the University Senate, including its functions and procedural rules.

Terms Of Reference

Terms of reference

Senate Terms of Reference are set out in Section 19 of the University Statutes (Functions of the Senate) and University Ordinance 8, as follows:

Section 19 of the University Statutes:

The Senate shall be responsible for the academic work of the University, consistent with Article 13 of the Charter, and in particular for the strategic development of the academic activities of the University and for the approval of policies to promote and ensure the qualities and standards of the academic work of the University, including teaching, research and knowledge exchange.

The Senate shall report to the Council on any matters referred to the Senate by Council, and may discuss, declare an opinion and make recommendations to the Council on any matter of interest to the University, including on matters relating to the Ordinances, in accordance with Article 23 of the Charter.

In accordance with Article 21 of the Charter, the Senate may recommend to the Council that it makes Statutes amending, adding to or repealing the Statutes then in force.

In accordance with Article 29 of the charter, the Senate may jointly with council recommend Special Resolutions to the Court.

The Senate shall assure Council of the academic standards and quality of education leading to the University of Bath degree awards and qualifications, and other educational provision.

The Senate has authority to make such Regulations, in accordance with Article 24 of the Charter, as are necessary to fulfil the powers, duties and functions of the Senate as set out in the Ordinances.

University Ordinance 8:

Powers, Duties and Functions:

Subject to the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances, the Senate is the principal body responsible for the strategic development of the academic activities of the University, including teaching, research, and knowledge exchange, and the regulation, governance, standards and quality assurance of the academic work of the University. Its responsibilities include:

To determine and review regularly the policies and Regulations governing:

  • the University’s programmes leading to degree awards and qualifications, and other educational provision;
  • the conduct of research and also knowledge exchange;
  • the ethical conduct of academic activities;
  • the appointment, probation and promotion of academic staff;
  • academic roles; and
  • the welfare and discipline of students.

To ensure that the University is compliant with all relevant external regulatory requirements insofar as they concern its responsibilities under the Charter, the Statutes and the Ordinances.

To develop the academic strategies of the University and to scrutinise the academic (teaching, research, and knowledge exchange) strategic plans of any part of the University and make recommendations to the Council for approval.

To raise issues of major and strategic academic importance and risk to the University.

To approve policies to support and foster academic freedom in relation to the academic activity of the University and to report to the Council on matters of concern in relation to the provision of academic freedom.

To exercise all such powers, duties and functions as are or may be conferred on the Senate by the Charter, these Statutes or the Ordinances.

To make representation to the Council on all Statutes or Ordinances or proposed changes of the Statutes or the Ordinances and on any academic matter.

The Senate has authority to make such Regulations as are necessary to fulfil its powers, duties and functions.

The Senate may delegate any of its functions, duties and powers (other than its power to make Regulations and provide effective oversight of the University’s Quality Assurance processes) to committees appointed by it or to its officers as it sees fit, and such committees and individuals may further delegate unless the Senate has provided to the contrary.


The specific powers of Senate include:

To institute, and regulate schemes of study and examinations leading to, Degrees, Diplomas, Certificates and other academic awards of the University, and grant such to persons who have satisfied the conditions of the award thereof as prescribed in these Ordinances.

To institute and then, after consideration jointly by the Council and the Senate, grant Honorary Degrees.

To recommend to the Council the names of persons, who in the opinion of the Senate, should be deprived of any Degrees, distinctions or titles, Diplomas or Certificates, conferred on or granted to them by the University, and from whom all privileges connected therewith should be withdrawn.

To oversee, and to determine from time to time by means of Regulation, policies and procedures for student health, wellbeing and fitness to study, conduct and disciplinary matters, fitness to practise and professional suitability, academic misconduct, academic appeals and students' complaints, and delegate associated operational responsibilities to relevant academic sections and professional services departments of the University.

Subject to section Statute 27, to suspend, discipline, exclude or expel any student in accordance with the provisions of any Regulation from time to time made under this Ordinance.

To confer the titles of Emeritus Professor, Honorary Professor, Reader or Lecturer, or other such titles.

To institute, subject to any conditions acceptable to the Senate, Fellowships, Studentships, Scholarships, Exhibitions, Bursaries, Prizes and other such grants, for the encouragement of study and research; and to determine the times, modes and conditions of competition and to examine for and award the same, or to delegate these powers.

To institute an academic (including teaching and research) ethics framework to maintain schemes to ensure ethical conduct and academic integrity within the University meet the University’s standards and external standards where required.

To formulate, modify or revise schemes for the organisation of teaching and research via academic sections of the University, and review from time to time the working of such schemes. The Senate may also make recommendations to the Council to institute, combine or discontinue any academic (teaching or research) sections of the University.

To review, amend, refer back or to disallow any act of any academic section of the University.

To establish Committees and Joint Committees of the Senate as required.

To prescribe the academic dress to be worn by the Officers and Members of the University, and the occasions on which it shall be worn; and to determine the form and conduct of all academic ceremonies.

To appoint and elect members of the Senate to be members of the Court and the Council as provided for under sections 13 and 16 of the Statutes.

To co-opt members of the Senate as provided for in these Ordinances.

Except as otherwise provided, to appoint representatives of the University to other bodies.

To elect members to the Joint Committees referred to in section 3 of the Statutes regarding appointment of the Chancellor.

Jointly with the Council, to agree the procedures for the appointment and renewal of the Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, Pro-Vice-Chancellors, Vice-Presidents with an academic remit, Faculty Deans and Heads of School.

Duties and Functions:

The specific duties and functions of the Senate include to regulate all academic matters affecting the academic policy of the University, considering and approving recommendations from the Senate Committees regarding:

The introduction and withdrawal of new modules or programmes of study leading to the award of a University Certificate, Diploma or Degree of the University.

The entrance and continuation requirements for programmes of study and research within the University.

The conduct of assessments and examinations, including issues relating to mitigating circumstances and re-assessment opportunities, and rescinding any award that may have been made to a person who subsequently qualifies for a higher award within the same scheme of study (where a scheme of study provides for more than one academic award).

The appointment of internal and external examiners and to determine their conditions of appointment and service.

The determination of the conditions under which and the extent, if any, to which periods and programmes of study and examinations passed at other universities, places of learning and other institutions, may be regarded as equivalent to periods and programmes of study, assessment and examinations in the University.

The recommendation or reporting to the Council on any financial implications of the academic policy of the University, accounting for the views of the academic areas of the University concerned.

The training and development of staff charged with:

  • teaching, assessing course work and examining students, including graduate teaching assistants and research fellows;
  • postgraduate research student supervision;
  • the technical or administrative support of teaching
  • personal tutoring
  • welfare support for students; and
  • investigating complaints, appeals and student misconduct and chairing or serving as a member of the associated hearing panels.

The arrangements for the tuition, supervision, assessment, welfare and discipline of students studying at another institution as part of their University programme of study.

The establishment or termination of collaborative academic partnerships (teaching or research) with other bodies in the UK or abroad.

The scheduling and reporting of periodic reviews of taught programmes (undergraduate and postgraduate) and postgraduate research programmes and the appointment of the chairs and members of the review panels.

The Senate shall scrutinise academic performance against student-related (undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research) measures of success relating, for example, to the following matters and investigate any arising risk and matters of concern: student recruitment, retention and completion rates; graduate outcomes; equality and diversity in the student populations, including issues relating to widening access; uptake of bursaries and scholarships; student complaints, appeals and student misconduct; and student survey data.

The Senate shall scrutinise academic performance against academic staff-related measures of success relating, for example, to the following matters and investigate any arising risk and matters of concern: teaching, research and knowledge exchange performance; equality and diversity in the academic staff population; recruitment, retention and career progression of academic staff; academic staff training, misconduct and appeals; academic staff awards and recognition; and staff survey data.


Sections 18 and 19 of the University Statutes; Ordinance 8, Standing Orders of Senate


Ordinance 8.11(d)


Standing Order of Senate 26


Section 28.1(iv) of the University Statutes


Standing Orders of Senate 9 and 10


Submitted to Council and published on the website


The Vice-Chancellor, ex officio (Section 18.2 of the University Statutes)

Scheme of Delegation

Council and Senate Joint Scheme of Delegation


A member may serve for not more than a total of 9 (nine) years save in exceptional circumstances.

Version information

Owner: Senate
Version number:
Approval Date: 1966, revised in 2000, 2009 and 2021
Approved By: Privy Council (Statutes) and Council (Ordinances)
Date of last review: 2021


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