Programme structures and their representation in the programme catalogues
Components of a programme
The following information applies to programmes studied on a full-time basis. For specific information on the format of part-time programmes please contact your department.
Each programme of study is divided into academic years which are then broken down further into period slots (usually semester 1, semester 2, dissertation period, or academic year). The number of academic years your programme takes to complete will depend on the type of qualification you are ultimately aiming for and the way you are studying for it (i.e. your mode of attendance - full-time, part-time, thick sandwich, etc). For specific dates of academic years, please see the academic year charts.
Each academic year within a programme of study is made up of a number of components called units which are offered in the period slots mentioned above. Each unit has a credit value (usually 3, 6 or 12). Students must accumulate 60 credits for each year of a typical undergraduate programme or 90 credits for a typical full-time postgraduate masters programme. Use the links below to access diagrammatic examples of programme structures:
Units are taught at levels of progressive difficulty according to the stage you have reached in your programme and range from Foundation (i.e. pre-degree level) to Doctoral level. In addition to completing the correct number of credits in each year, students must complete a certain number of credits at specified levels in order to achieve their qualification aim. This means that, when choosing any optional units (particularly in the later years of undergraduate programmes) it is very important that you check that you have enough credits at each level. See the 'Description of levels' page for further information.
You can access details of the precise requirements of your programme in document QA3 in the Quality Assurance Code of Practice.
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 (condonement). You should note that the marks you gain are distinct from credits, and that, in the main, 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. Your Director of Studies will be able to advise you on these points.
Failure to complete the required credits at each level may result in you not obtaining your award.
The purpose of the programme catalogues is to help you to understand the structure of your programme and the range of units likely to be available to you. The programme catalogues provide a view of the structure of each programme as it is expected to run for the given year and of the units which are expected to be available. Please note that structures given in the catalogues apply to the specified year only i.e. you should not assume, if you will be in year 2 of a programme in 2010/11, that the third year of your programme in 2011/12 will be as described here (for year 3 in 2010/11).
The programme and unit catalogues are organised by department and are then split by level (postgraduate / undergraduate). There will be a different code for a programme including a placement year or a study year abroad from that for a programme which does not. Make sure that you are looking at the correct programme of study. See the programme codes table for further information on how codes are structured.
If you are not sure which department your programme belongs to, complete indices of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are provided to help you.
Each programme is divided into academic years and the units offered within each academic year are organised by period slot and then by unit status...
Some academic years may be made up entirely of compulsory units. For programmes including blocks of optional units each block will have accompanying criteria indicating how many units you will be permitted to select. There may also be additional text indicating further restrictions on your unit selection.
Programme catalogue header information
The header section at the top of each programme catalogue provides details of the relevant programme of study as follows:
Details within each year of study
The main body of a programme catalogue page provides details of the units available on the programme, how these fit together, and any restrictions on their availability: