Standard Terminology: Glossary of Terms for Taught Degrees

Standard Terminology: Glossary of Terms for Taught Degrees

The Glossary of Terms for Taught Degrees aims to achieve consistency in academic terminology across the University. These terms should be applied in all documentation relating to degree programmes (such as regulations and student handbooks), and also supporting systems such as PIP.

The Glossary was first introduced in 2004 and was updated in February 2007, September 2010 and July 2011.

 

Term  Definition 
Academic session (or academic year)  A 12-month period, beginning in September, during which courses are taught and assessed. 
Aggregation score  The numerical equivalent of a grade assessed under Schedule B of the Code of Assessment. Paragraphs 16.29- 16.39 and Schedule B of the Code of Assessment describe fully.
Assessment  Judgment of the standard of attainment of the intended learning outcomes of a programme, course, or course component. 
Award  The degree, certificate or diploma which is conferred following the successful completion of a defined programme of study.
Band (or Secondary band)  A subdivision of a grade that reflects the confidence with which a judgment of grading is made. For example, grade “A” is subdivided into bands “A1”, “A2”, “A3”, “A4”, and “A5”. 
Certificate of Higher Education  An award following successful completion of undergraduate courses totaling 120 credits at level 1 or above. 
Classification  The process of deciding the class of award that should be conferred on a student who has successfully completed the defined programme. For Honours degrees, the available classes are “first”, “upper second”, “lower second”, and “third”; for Ordinary and Masters degrees, the available classes are “distinction”, “merit”, and “pass”. 
Combined Honours degree  See entry for “Honours degree: Joint Honours”. 
Compulsory course  A course that must be taken by all students on a particular programme. 
Core  The set of compulsory courses in a particular programme. 
Course  A self-contained unit of study on a particular topic, with defined level, credit value, aims, intended learning outcomes, mode(s) of delivery, scheme of assessment, and possibly also pre- and co-requisites. 
Credit  A measure of workload, where 1 credit equates to 10 notional learning hours. The total annual workload for a full-time undergraduate student is normally 120 credits, and that for a full-time Masters student is normally 180 credits. 
Curriculum  A set of courses usually associated with a student’s programme of study. 
Designated degree  An Ordinary degree awarded following successful completion of a 360-credit programme in which a particular subject (or group of subjects) is studied in depth. 
Diploma of Higher Education An award following successful completion of undergraduate courses totaling 240 credits, including at least 90 credits at level 2 or above.
Elective course (or Option course) A course that may optionally be taken by students on a particular programme. (The same course may be compulsory for students on a different programme.)
External examiner A subject expert appointed by the University to participate in the moderation of the assessment process.
General degree An Ordinary degree awarded following successful completion of a 360-credit programme in which a broad range of subjects are studied.
Grade An alphabetic designation (in the range “A” to “H”) that is awarded to a student on completion of a course to reflect the student’s attainment of the intended learning outcomes of that course.
Grade point The numerical equivalent of a grade assessed under Schedule A of the Code of Assessment. Paragraphs 16.29 - 16.39 and Schedule A of the Code of Assessment describe fully.
Grade point average (GPA) The average grade point score of two or more courses used for the aggregation of course results across a programme and the classification of degrees, including the awards of Merit and Distinction.  The GPA is calculated by taking the product of each course’s weight and the candidate’s grade points and dividing the sum of these products by the sum of the courses’ weights. Paragraph 16.34 of the Code of Assessment describes fully.
Honours degree A degree awarded following successful completion of a 480-credit programme, including at least 180 credits at levels 3 and H with at least 90 of these at level H, in which a particular subject (or group of subjects) is studied in depth. The programme includes a project or dissertation, normally of 20−40 credits.
Honours degree: Joint Honours (or Combined Honours Degree) A Joint Honours degree is awarded following successful completion of an Honours programme in years three and four in which two subjects are studied in depth. At least 120 credits but no more than 140 credits are studied in each subject, and the subjects are normally equally weighted in the calculation of the final classification.
Honours degree: Principal with Subsidiary Honours A Principal with Subsidiary Honours degree is awarded following successful completion of an Honours programme in years three and four where 180 credits will normally be in one subject with 60 in another, the weighting of the programme’s scheme of assessment reflecting the respective credit values of the two subjects.
Instrument of assessment A means by which a course or part of a course may be assessed; it may be a written or oral examination, dissertation, report or other approved means.
Integrated Honours degree An Honours degree awarded following successful completion of a 480-credit programme in which two or more subjects are studied in depth, and which includes at least one integrating course. The subjects are not necessarily equally weighted in the programme’s scheme of assessment.
Integrated Masters degree A degree awarded following successful completion of a 600-credit programme, including at least 120 credits at level M, in which a particular subject is studied to an advanced level.
Level An indication of the standard at which a particular course is taught and assessed. The available levels are 1, 2, 3, H (Honours), and M (Masters) and these equate to SCQF levels 7 to 11. Further information is provided at http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/6487.html.
Masters degree A degree awarded following successful completion of a 180-credit postgraduate programme, including at least 150 credits at level M, in which a particular subject is studied to an advanced level. The programme includes a project or dissertation, normally of 60 credits.
Monitoring Process whereby the aims, intended learning outcomes, delivery, and students’ results for a course are reviewed.
Option course (see Elective course)
Ordinary degree A degree awarded following successful completion of a 360-credit programme, including at least 60 credits at level 3.  See also Designated degree and General degree.
Postgraduate Certificate An award following successful completion of a 60-credit programme, including at least 40 credits at level M.
Postgraduate Diploma An award following successful completion of a 120-credit programme, including at least 90 credits at level M.
Programme A set of compulsory and elective courses leading to a defined award, with defined aims, intended learning outcomes, mode(s) of delivery, and scheme of assessment.
Scheme of assessment A specification of the instruments of assessment by which performance on a particular course or a programme is assessed, including the relative weighting of each instrument.
Semester A period of approximately 15 weeks during which courses are taught and assessed. Each academic session will include a first semester from September to December and a second semester from January to May.
Session See Academic Session.
Subject A well-defined and distinctive discipline of study.
Tutorial A formal meeting of a group of students with a staff member or other tutor at which material relevant to a particular course is discussed.

Approved by Education Committee 24 March 2004
Noted by Senate 6 May 2004
Updated by EdPSC 21 February 2007 
Noted by Senate 15 March 2007 
Policy No: 03-07-E240304