There is an increasing value being placed on engaging and empowering first-year students and first-year curriculum design is a key driver and opportunity to ensure early enculturation into successful learning at university. This paper summarises the literature on first-year curriculum design linked to student engagement and empowerment. We present conceptualisations of 'curriculum' and examples from first-year curriculum design. We also note the limited literature where students have been involved in designing first-year curricula. The results of the literature review suggest that key characteristics of engaging first-year curricula include active learning, timely feedback, relevance and challenge. The literature also points to the importance of identifying students' abilities on entry to university as well as being clear about desired graduate attributes and developmental goals. Acknowledging realities and constraints, we present a framework for the first-year curriculum design process based on the literature. © 2011 Taylor & Francis
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