New Programme Development

Helping universities to optimise the launch of new courses

At TKP we spend a lot of time helping universities to evaluate their courses. We examine lots of existing data sources including trended enrolment data, application data, marketing materials and tuition fees all at a course level to understand the position of each course within a market and how best to re-enforce the strengths of a course and to mitigate any weaknesses.

  • When the course idea is in a brand new market either to the institution or to the sector as a whole - how do you evaluate the potential demand?
  • How can you ensure you have the right target market, the right delivery mode and the right course content?  
  • And, how do you optimise the marketing of a course when there is very little ‘best-practice’ to draw any firm conclusions from?

We know from our i-MAP study that 56% of new PGT programmes fail to recruit 10 or more students in any active cycle and for new single-subject UG programmes only 10% managed to recruit 10-15 students. How can you ensure that your new course idea will be successful? The answer is to conduct original research and to create the data you need to inform your decision making.

We have devised a method which typically comprises three key stages.

Stage 1, 2, 3

The end of each stage provides a natural pause in the course development cycle for you to determine whether or not to proceed with developing the new course. Having already completed stage 1 by reviewing the existing data and deciding that you need more information to support your decision making, the next stage is to test your course proposition and to establish the potential interest and demand for this new course with the identified target market.

Providing the survey shows a demand for the course, you can progress to the third stage of the development process which will be a qualitative approach in order to obtain more in-depth findings, particularly on marketing, course content and the detailed strengths/weaknesses of the course, helping to finalise the new course concept and optimise chances of success.

“Why the Knowledge Partnership?”

TKP conducted a research project to review the market for a new subject area under consideration at Northumbria University. We needed to identify an opportunity in a very established and competitive market and develop a clear market position aligning to our strengths and long term vision.

The project, including primary and secondary research, was a collaborative effort between TKP, the university insight team and academic colleagues. Project milestones and university timescales were fully aligned, which ensured stakeholders were fully engaged from start to finish and the project progressed effectively. The results were communicated in a timely and accessible way providing actionable insights and clear recommendations for the business case, product development, academic content and marketing.

We were impressed with the overall approach, high quality research, regular communication and general enthusiasm which instilled confidence at a senior level and strengthened the case in the new proposition that was considered high risk for the institution.

- Simon Moll, Insight & Propositions Manager, Marketing at Northumbria University

More information

If you would like more information please contact our primary research lead Christine Pickup

via email:

or phone: +44 20 39634693

Christine has twenty years of experience covering the full range of qualitative and quantitative techniques, so whether your needs require measuring the attitudes of hard to reach audiences via survey research or really understanding a key audience through ethnographic techniques, she can design a solution tailored to your specific needs and help you turn the insights into action through workshops