Curriculum mapping for health professions education: a typology




curriculum, maps, information management, educational technology, education, learning, teaching, organization and administration, health professions, professional


Introduction: Across higher education, curriculum mapping has attracted great interest, partly driven by the need to map graduate competencies to learning and assessment for quality assurance and accreditation. Other drivers have included the need to: a) provide tools for curriculum design and renewal, b) improve communication amongst teachers and curriculum developers and c) support learning by informing students about the scope and sequence of their programs. Those embarking on curriculum mapping have sought clarification about what elements of the curriculum should be mapped, how to develop their own map or whether they should adopt externally available products. During our combined experience of mapping six different medical programs over the course of 15 years, we have frequently sought answers to these questions. However, due to the many and varying types of curriculum maps and curriculum-mapping processes that are described in the literature, answers have not been readily forthcoming. 

Methods: We conducted a comprehensive review of the higher education—including health professions—literature to develop a four-dimensional typology for curriculum maps, which details features related to their purpose, product, process and display. The typology was validated by testing the parameters against six curriculum maps from medical schools around Australia.

Results: Using a synthesis of 265 higher education publications, we created a structured framework and common language around the four dimensions of curriculum mapping. 

Discussion: The typology can be used by health professions educators to make key decisions about the many curriculum map options available.


Author Biographies

Eilean Genevieve S. Watson, UNSW Sydney

Conjoint Senior Lecturer, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine. Eilean led the design and development of the curriculum mapping system (eMed Map) of the medicine program.

Carole Steketee, The University of Notre Dame

National Director of Learning and Teaching. Prior to this role she was Associate Dean Learning and Teaching in the medical school where she led the design and development of Prudentia Curriculum Management System.

Kylie Mansfield, University of Wollongong

Associate Professor Medical Sciences, Director of Curriculum, School of Medicine. Kylie is responsible for the design and implementation of the medical curriculum.

Maxine Moore, Flinders University

Senior Lecturer in Curriculum, College of Medicine and Public Health. Maxine led the design and development of the Online Curriculum Framework (curriculum map) for the medical program.

Bronwen Dalziel, Western Sydney University

Senior Lecturer in Medical Education, School of Medicine. Bronwen is leading the curriculum-mapping project for the undergraduate medical program.

Arvin Damodaran, UNSW Sydney

Director, Clinical Teaching Unit, Prince of Wales Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine; and Rheumatologist, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney. Arvin convenes the final two years of the undergraduate medicine program; and led a project on the visualisation of disciplines in the curriculum mapping system (eMed Map) of the medicine program.

Ben Walker, University of Newcastle

Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medicine. Ben has extensive experience in the design and implementation of medical programs at the University of Newcastle and University of New England.

Robbert J. Duvivier, The University of Newcastle

Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine and Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medicine. Robbert also holds an appointment at University of Groningen, the Netherlands, and combines specialist training in psychiatry at Parnassia Mental Health in the Hague, the Netherlands, with research in education. Whilst at Newcastle, Robbert was involved in a major MD curriculum renewal.

Wendy Hu, Western Sydney University

Professor of Medical Education, School of Medicine. Wendy has led the design and development of a curriculum map in a medical program.


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How to Cite

Watson, E. G. S., Steketee, C., Mansfield, K., Moore, M., Dalziel, B., Damodaran, A., Walker, B., Duvivier, R. J., & Hu, W. (2020). Curriculum mapping for health professions education: a typology. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 21(1), 91–113.