Explanatory notes

These explanatory notes have been prepared to help you understand those parts of the University of Bath’s undergraduate Programme/Unit Catalogue which are relevant to you, in the context of semester-based units in the modular framework. The notes are general, and there may be particular points relating to your programme about which your Director of Studies will advise you, or which will be contained in additional information provided by your Department or School. The notes cover first of all the general framework (the academic year, and the terminology used to describe programmes and units), and then lead into the way information is set out in the programme and unit listings. Various tables are grouped between these notes and the start of the Catalogue, to clarify some points without interrupting the notes.

2. The semester-based academic year

The 1999/00 academic year is divided into two fifteen-week semesters. Each semester is made up of twelve weeks of teaching followed by three weeks of revision and assessment, during which formal examinations will be scheduled. (See Table 1 for a chart of the calendar for 1999/00, and note that there is no inter-semester break.) The Catalogue therefore seeks to show you which units are expected to run in which semester and year of your programme. The Catalogue labels semesters as Semester 1 and Semester 2 in each year, not as semesters 1 through to 6 (or 8) for a programme; that is:

Year 1 Semester 1

Year 1 Semester 2

Year 2 Semester 1

Year 2 Semester 2

Year 3 Semester 1

Year 3 Semester 2

Year 4 Semester 1

Year 4 Semester 2

Rather than:

Semester 1

Semester 2

Semester 3

Semester 4

Semester 5

Semester 6

Semester 7

Semester 8

There are some exceptions to the normal dates and pattern (for placement periods, and for a small number of programmes, for example); your Director of Studies/Department/School will provide information about such cases.

3. Programmes, Units and Credits

3.1 Overview

Your degree programme is made up of a number of components, called units. Credits are used to illustrate how units fit together in programmes. The purpose of the Programme/Unit Catalogue is to help you to understand the structure of your degree programme and the range of units likely to be available to you.

The programmes and units described in this Catalogue are expected to be available in 1999/00. The University may make changes to these arrangements in accordance with its normal procedures, and will determine whether units will run based on constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors. It is possible, therefore, that a unit you read about here may not run, or that you may be unable to take it. In some cases, a unit may become available after the publication of the Catalogue, and if you are able to take it, you will be advised about it separately. Different ranges of programmes and units may be available in subsequent years, so you should not assume, if you will be in year 2 of a programme in 1999/00, that the third year of your programme in 2000/01 will be as described here (for year 3 in 1999/00). There may also be groups of units which are offered only in alternate years — which means that they might be available to years 3 and 4 in 1999/00, but will be replaced by another set of units available to both years in 2000/01. And in some cases, for example where a programme is just starting, later years of the programme may not be running yet, but will be included to give an indication of what is planned. Your Director of Studies will advise you about all such matters.

3.2 Credits

The University has adopted a credit-rating structure for the units which make up your programme. It is important to understand this structure before looking at the individual programmes and units.

Firstly, the credit-rating structure helps to describe your workload. Different students will have to devote different amounts of time and effort to a programme and to individual units, but the credit-rating system gives a breakdown of the notional workload associated with a programme. It starts out with 60 credits for a typical undergraduate year, which are then divided to give an approximate workload for each of the units which the year includes. The majority of Departments/Schools will be using a system which breaks down to 3, 6, or 12 credits per unit, with the possibility that project work or placement periods may have different values. A small number of Departments/Schools will be using a system which breaks down to 5 or 10 credits per unit. Some diagrammatic examples are given in Table 2. You may find that your programme requires that you fill a six-credit slot with a five-credit unit from a Department/School using the other system; if this is so, the apparent deficiency of one credit will be acceptable within the context of your programme. The converse, leading to an additional credit will also be acceptable. Your Director of Studies will advise you in such cases.

Secondly, the credit-rating structure helps to describe your work towards the award of a degree. Thus the typical undergraduate programme will require that you accumulate 60 credits in each year of the programme. You will automatically acquire the credits for units which you pass. If you do not pass a unit at the first attempt, the credits might be acquired by re-taking and passing the unit (if this is permitted), by re-sitting and passing the assessment (if this is permitted), or by the appropriate body (such as a Board of Examiners) deeming that you may acquire the credits. You should note that the marks you gain are distinct from credits, and that it is the aggregation of marks which determines your degree result. All such circumstances are described in full in the scheme of study and assessment for a programme, which is not part of the Catalogue. Again, your Director of Studies will advise on these points.

3.3 The status of a unit

Some of the units you take in a given year of a programme will be compulsory or mandatory units — and in some semesters all of the units to be taken may be mandatory.

In many cases, you will be allowed to choose to make up a particular credit requirement from a range of units: for example, 24 of the 30 credits to be obtained in a semester are prescribed mandatory units, but you may choose either one six-credit unit, or two three-credit units to fill the remaining load from a list which contains some of each. These are normally known as optional units. In some cases, there may be a space for you to fill for which you may choose a unit from almost anywhere in the University (subject to having the right pre-requisites, that is, having covered necessary background material earlier). This type of optional unit is often referred to as an elective unit.

You are also permitted to take one six-credit unit (or its equivalent — two three-credit units, or a five-credit unit from the other credit-rating system) in an academic year, outside the requirements of your programme. This will not count for progression in your degree programme, or towards your degree result. However, the fact that you have taken it, and the result you have obtained, will be recorded on your transcript of results, and you will be able to demonstrate that you have done such extra work. These units will be available subject to constraints such as minimum and maximum group sizes, staff availability, timetabling factors, and your own ability to meet the pre-requisites. Those units most likely to be chosen in this way are listed in the separate Catalogue of Generally Available Units. This type of unit is known as a free/extra-curricular unit.

Your Director of Studies will advise you in all these areas.

3.4 Pre-requisites and co-requisites

You will find that some units may only be taken if you have taken specified other units first, or if you take specified units at the same time or in the same year. It is important that you check this information as it may restrict your choice of other units. Two sorts of rule are given to cover this sort of relationship between units:

Pre-requisites are those units you must have taken in a previous year or semester in order to study this unit.

Co-requisites are units you must take within the same year or semester in order to study this unit.

These rules hold true whatever your programme. There may however be additional rules which are applicable to your programme only. These will be made clear to you in this or other documentation given to you by your Department/School.

4. The structure of the Programme/Unit Catalogue

4.1 The Programme Catalogue

The programme section of the Catalogue gives, in an abbreviated form, a view of the structure of each programme as it is expected to run in 1999/00, and of the units which are expected to be available in 1999/00. (See note 3.1 about the changes which may be made.) It is here that you will find the rules which indicate the mandatory units and the ranges of optional units.

Programmes are listed in programme code order. There is a different code for a programme which includes a third-year placement, for example, from that for a programme which does not but is otherwise the same. You should look through the definition of each programme to make sure you have found the right one. More information about the meaning of the programme code is given in Table 3.

4.2 The Unit Catalogue

The unit section of the Catalogue gives details of all the units which are associated with the programmes in the preceding section, and which are expected to be available in 1999/00. (See note 3.1 about the changes which may be made.)

Units are listed in unit code order. If the same subject is taught in both Semesters 1 and 2, there will be two separately coded entries for it. You will need to make sure that you are looking at the right one. More information about the meaning of the unit code and the associated detail about units is given in Tables 4–6.

Return to Programme/Unit Catalogue 1999/00

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