University Calendar 2016/17
Section IV : General Regulations
Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme

The Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (the Scheme) applies to all taught programmes in the University and all collaborative provision.

1. Introduction

The Scheme allows students to qualify for awards of the University through the accumulation of credit points for modules which are the building blocks of programmes of study. Individual programme regulations define which modules students may take to assemble individual programmes according to their needs and interests, and credit points may be given for previous formal study. Modules taken and credit points obtained are recorded on a transcript, which also shows where credit points have been "cashed in" for an award, available to the student.

The Scheme also permits students to study individual modules, for example continuing education modules, without the immediate aim of achieving an award.

2. Definitions

Regulations and Definitions Applying to Progression for all Credit-Bearing Programmes. In this Framework the following additional terms are used:

Credit: A quantified means of expressing equivalence of learning. Credit is awarded to a learner in recognition of the verified achievement of designated learning outcomes at a specified level.

Credit Level: An indicator of the relative demand, complexity and depth of learning and of learner autonomy. The level identifies the relative demands of learning that will be required of a learner undertaking a module of learning. The University has developed generic Credit Level Descriptors which describe the characteristics of learning demand which the learner will encounter at each credit level. In October 2014 the QAA published revised Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications in UK degree-awarding bodies (FHEQ). The levels used articulate with the National Qualifications Frameworks and map to the corresponding cycle of the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA).

Typical HE Qualification
2008 FHEQ level
2001 FHEQ level
Pre-2001 FHEQ level
Doctorates (Eg: PhD, EdD, DBA, DClinPsych)
Third cycle (end of cycle)
Masters degrees (eg: MPhil, MLitt, MRes, MA, MSc)
Second cycle (end of cycle)
Integrated Masters degrees (eg: MEng, MChem, MPhys, MPharm)  
Primary qualifications (or first degrees) in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science (eg: MB ChB, MB BS, BM BS, BDS, BVSc, BVMS)    
Postgraduate Diplomas  
Postgraduate Certificate in Education  
Postgraduate Certificates  
Bachelors degrees with Honours [eg: BA (Hons), BSc (Hons), BEng (Hons)]
First cycle (end of cycle)
Bachelors degrees (eg: Ordinary degree)
Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)  
Graduate Diplomas
Graduate Certificates
Foundation degrees (eg: FdA, FdSc)
Short first cycle (within or linked to the first cycle) qualifications
Diplomas of Higher Education (DipHE)
Higher National Diplomas (HND)
Certificates of Higher Education (CertHE)
Higher National Certificates (HNC)

Notional Learning Time: The number of hours that it is expected a learner (at a particular level) will spend, on average, to achieve the specified learning outcomes. The amount of student effort equivalent to 1 ECTS is between 20 hours and 25 hours. Previously the University used the UK Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme where the notional learning time ratio used is 1 CAT credit being equivalent to 10 hours of student effort.

Programme of Study: The named award for which a student is registered. A student's programme of study may be taken by full-time or, where permitted, by part-time study and may incorporate credit points for appropriate prior learning (see below) and for the successful completion of employment-based training. A programme of study may be composed of modules of any size but the University Senate agreed in 2010 that for 3-year undergraduate degree programmes the normal module size will be 7.5 ECTS and multiples thereof.

Recognition of Prior Learning: The University has devolved arrangements for the management and assessment of prior learning within the policy set out in the Quality Handbook. Faculties may allow RPL up to a maximum of one third of a programme; for example, 60 ECTS of a three year Honours degree, subject to there being rigorous systems in place that require candidates to provide evidence of how previous study matches the explicit criteria of expected learning outcomes. A lower maximum number of RPL credits may be stipulated where necessary for programme coherence. Any proposal to allow RPL outside the above limits must be formally approved by the relevant Faculty Programmes Committee.

Condonement: The process by which an assessment board, in consideration of the overall performance of a student, decides that, without incurring a penalty, one or more modules that have been failed do not need to be redeemed. Condonement is not permitted except in special circumstances within the responsibility of a Special Considerations Board.

Re-use of Credit: Credit may be kept and used to satisfy the credit requirements of any award for which the credit learning is deemed relevant. Mechanisms must be in place to record declarations by students that the credit presented has not been used for a previous claim. In cases where a University of Southampton award is made (for instance, those who have been awarded a PG Certificate and left, but now wish to proceed to a Diploma) the original award will be rescinded. Credit may contribute towards a higher award (more credits at the same and/or higher level) but not normally towards another award of equivalent or lower level. In specific cases, Faculties may exercise their discretion in allowing for credit achieved at a higher level to be used towards an award at a lower level if it avoids duplication of learning by a student. Credits awarded at a higher level, used at the lower, cannot normally be used again in a future degree at a higher level.

  • A student who achieves a Foundation Degree (level 5) could use the relevant credit towards an Honours Degree (level 6), but not towards an HND or a DipHE or another Foundation Degree.

  • A maximum of 10 ECTS credits at level 6 may be used towards a Postgraduate Certificate and a maximum of 15 ECTS credits at level 6 may be used towards a Postgraduate Diploma.
Back Tracking and Forward Tracking: Back tracking and forward tracking by one level are allowed up to 15 ECTS credit points, provided the minimum credit requirements at each level are satisfied at the time of the award.

3. Credit Requirements for University Awards

The following table sets out the details of credit requirements for all University awards.

Qualification FHEQ level Minimum overall credit in ECTS credits Minimum ECTS credits required at level of award Additional Criteria
Professional Doctorate 8 at least 270 180 Remaining 90 credits to be at level 7*.
MRes 7 at least 90 90 Normally 30 credits taught, 60 credits research element.
Masters Degree 7 at least 90 75 Normally 30 credit points are assigned to an independent piece of work: normally all credit will be at 7 level but up to 15 credits at 6 level may be permitted
MSci, MEng (Integrated 4-year Masters degree) 7 at least 240 60 Based on 60 credits in Part 1 (level 4) + 60 credits in Part 2 (level 5) + 60 credits in Part 3 (level 6) + a minimum of 60 to a maximum of 75 credits in Part 4 (level 7)
Postgraduate Diploma 7 at least 60 45 N/A
Postgraduate Certificate 7 at least 30 20 N/A
Postgraduate Certificate in Education 7 at least 30 20 N/A
Graduate Diploma* 6 at least 60 45 N/A
Graduate Certificate* 6 at least 30 20 N/A
Double Honours degree 6 at least 240 45 in each subject
(ie: 90 in total)
Based on 60 credit point year. There must be study at level 6 in both subjects of which at least 45 credits must be passed, and 15 credits of independent study at level 6 in both subjects also.
Honours degree 6 at least 180 45 N/A
Intercalated degree 6 N/A N/A Successful completion of the Intercalated programme shall result in the award of an Honours degree. The Intercalated programme is based on Honours level work alone.
Ordinary degree 6 at least 150 30 N/A
Professional Graduate Certificate in Education 6 at least 30 20 N/A
Diploma of HE / Foundation degree 5 at least 120 45 N/A
Certificate of HE 4 at least 60 45 N/A

* Graduate in time but not in level.

Note: The EWNI credit bodies recommend that the programmes leading to the Honours degree and the Ordinary degree reflect planned progression and credit attainment throughout the levels spanned by the qualification.

The Certificate of HE, Diploma of HE, Foundation degree, Ordinary degree, Intercalated degree, Honours degree and Double Honours degree and Integrated Masters programmes are dealt with collectively for the purposes of progression and classification in Section IV: General Regulations Progression, Determination and Classification of Results: Undergraduate and Integrated Masters Programmes.

The Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, MSc, MSc(Ed), MSc (Social Science), MA, MA(Ed), MMus, LLM & MRes, are known collectively as Standalone Masters programmes and are dealt with collectively for the purposes of progression and classification in Section IV: General Regulations Progression, Determination and Classification of Results:Standalone Masters Programmes.

The awards of Certificate of HE, Diploma of HE, Ordinary Degree and Graduate Certificate are not Classified awards.

4. Assessment

Arrangements for the assessment and re-assessment of modules will be as specified by the Faculty Programmes Committee and described in the relevant Programme Specification.

The University does not specify the amount of assessment (eg: essay wordage or length of examination) which must be completed for each credit-bearing module; this is left for determination by each Faculty bearing in mind the demands of each discipline.

Reviewed in July 2013; no changes made
Reviewed in July 2014; changes approved by AQSC on 17 September 2014
Reviewed in July 2015
Reviewed in May 2016; changes approved by AQSC on 1 June 2016 and by Senate in July 2016

Submitted by Corporate Services
Last reviewed: 25-Jul-2016
© University of Southampton