Qualifications and Credit Framework (NUQCF) - Guidance

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1 Qualifications and Credit Framework (NUQCF) - Guidance Summary 1. The University s Framework is set out in summary form at FHEQ Levels 2. Qualifications are mapped to the five levels of the Quality Assurance Agency s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ): level 4, level 5, level, 6, level 7 and level 8. A table of examples of the typical higher education qualifications at each level of the FHEQ is shown in Appendix A. Column 4 of the University s Framework lists the specific qualifications currently awarded at Newcastle. 3. The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications of UK-Degree Awarding Bodies is available at: 4. A summary of the qualification descriptors is available in Appendix C. Qualification Descriptors 5. When developing new or making revisions to programmes reference should be made to the relevant qualification descriptor to ensure that this aligns with the appropriate reference point. Credit Framework 6. The University s Framework states the number and level of credits required for each award (module-based awards only). One Newcastle University credit equates to 10 hours of notional learning time. 7. Credits are awarded at specific levels (only one credit level can be attributed to any given module). Guidance on credit level descriptors is attached as Appendix B (the University has adopted those developed by the Northern Ireland Credit Accumulation and Transfer System (NICATS) Project, not as mandatory criteria, but rather as a guide for subject providers to use if considered helpful, either as they stand or adapted at subject level.) 8. The University s Framework sets out the minimum credit values that programme structures must require students to take in order to gain the appropriate qualification. It does not prevent specification of higher values appropriate to any given qualification in order to reflect the breadth of subjects offered and external points of reference, for example, the requirements of professional, statutory and regulatory bodies. Neither does it prevent additional non-credit-bearing components of a programme which must be undertaken for an award to be made, for example, cross-modular assessment. Qualification Titles Level 9. The FHEQ states that institutions should ensure that the title given to any qualification reflects the level of achievements, appropriately represents the nature, volume and field(s) of study undertaken, and is not misleading. It provides the following guidance on qualification nomenclature. 1

2 10. The titles 'Honours', 'Master' and 'Doctor' are used only for qualifications that meet in full the expectations of the qualification descriptors at levels 6, 7 and 8 respectively. 11. Titles with the stem 'Postgraduate' (e.g. Postgraduate Diploma) are restricted to qualifications where the learning outcomes of the programme of study match relevant parts of the descriptor for a qualification at level Titles with the stem 'Graduate' (e.g. Graduate Diploma) are used for programmes of study that typically require graduate entry or its equivalent, and have learning outcomes that match relevant parts of the descriptor for a qualification at level 6. Field of Study Nature 13. Single subject - a named subject 14. Joint - A and B, where there is an approximate equal balance between two components 15. Major/minor - A with B, where the minor subject accounts for at least a quarter of the programme 16. Multi-disciplinary should not normally reflect more than three subject components normally where there are multiple subjects the title Combined Studies is more appropriate. 17. The title of 'degree' should be used only for achievement in full if the outcomes set out in the relevant qualification descriptor at levels 5, 6, 7 or The use of the abbreviated titles PhD and DPhil is restricted to qualifications where assessment is solely by a final thesis or published work; or by artefact, composition or performance that is accompanied by a written commentary placing it in its academic context. 19. The abbreviated title MPhil is generally reserved for qualifications awarded following extended master s courses that typically involve a substantial element of research or equivalent enquiry. Dissertation/Research element of postgraduate Masters programmes 20. Research Masters: the research project/dissertation will comprise at least 80 credits. 21. Taught Masters: the dissertation element will comprise not less than one-third and not more than a half of the total number of credits (ie normally credits). Credit Balance 22. Undergraduate students: a credit value of not less than 50 and not more than 70 in any one semester, provided that a student registers for modules having a total credit value of 120 in any one stage. (In practice this would permit full-time semester credit loads as follows: 60:60; 50:70; 70:50). 23. Postgraduate students: an upper semester credit limit is set at 70 to avoid extreme imbalances in workload. (In practice this would permit Full-time semester credit loads as follows: for Diploma students - 60:60, 50:70; for Masters students - 60:60:60, 40:70:70; 50:60:70; including multiples of 5 where relevant and all semester variations for unequal splits.) New provision 2

3 24. FTLSECs, when they approve new and amended modules, should be guided by the general definitions of level included in the Framework and in the University Regulations. 25. All new programme proposals and revisions to existing programmes should be drawn up with reference to the Framework. Programme specifications should make explicit reference to the FHEQ level and have an accurate award title. Any proposals which vary from the Framework for particular reasons should be accompanied by a completed Exemption request form (available at 3

4 Appendix A Examples of the typical higher education qualifications at each level of the FHEQ and the corresponding cycle of the QF-EHEA Within each level, the various qualifications involve different volumes of learning and hence differences in the range of intended learning outcomes. Typical higher education qualifications awarded by degree-awarding bodies within each level Doctoral degrees (e.g., PhD/DPhil (including new-route PhD), EdD, DBA, DClinPsy) Master's degrees (e.g., MPhil, MLitt, MRes, MA, MSc) Integrated master's degrees (e.g., MEng, MChem, MPhys, MPharm) FHEQ level 8 Corresponding QF-EHEA cycle Third cycle (end of cycle) qualifications Second cycle (end of cycle) qualifications Primary qualifications (or first degrees) in medicine, dentistry or veterinary science (e.g. MBBS, BDS) 7 Postgraduate diplomas Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Postgraduate certificates Bachelor's degrees with honours (e.g., BA/BSc Hons) Bachelor's degrees Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) Graduate diplomas Graduate certificates Foundation Degrees (e.g., FdA, FdSc) Diplomas of Higher Education (DipHE) Higher National Diplomas (HND) 6 5 First cycle (end of cycle) qualifications Short cycle (within or linked to the first cycle) qualifications Higher National Certificates (HNC) Certificates of Higher Education (CertHE) Extract from the full document published at: 4 4

5 Appendix B NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY QUALIFICATIONS AND CREDIT FRAMEWORK Credit Levels and their Descriptors In undertaking studies at this level, a student at Newcastle University will be able to: Level 8 Level 7 Level 6 Level 5 Level 4 Level 3 Make a significant and original contribution to a specialised field of enquiry demonstrating a command of methodological issues and engaging in critical dialogue with peers. Display mastery of a complex and specialised area of knowledge and skills, employing advanced skills to conduct research or advanced technical or professional activity. Critically review, consolidate and extend a systematic and coherent body of knowledge. Critically evaluate new concepts and evidence from a range of sources. Transfer and apply diagnostic and creative skills and exercise significant judgment in a range of situations. Generate ideas through the analysis of concepts at an abstract level with a command of specialised skills and the formulation of responses to well defined and abstract problems. Develop a rigorous approach to the acquisition of a broad knowledge base. Employ a range of specialised skills and evaluate information using it to plan and develop investigative strategies. Determine solutions to unpredictable problems. Apply knowledge and skills in a range of complex activities demonstrating comprehension of relevant theories. Access and analyse information independently and make reasoned judgements, selecting from a wide choice of procedures in familiar and unfamiliar contexts. 5

6 Appendix C Summary of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies This document is a summary of the qualification descriptors contained in Section 4 of The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (October 2014). The full framework is available from the Quality Assurance Agency s web site at: FHEQ level Level 4 Level 5 1 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8 Examples of Newcastle University Qualification Higher Education Certificate Foundation Degree Higher Education Diploma Doctorates (e.g. PhD, EngD, EdD) Qualifications are awarded to students who have demonstrated: knowledge of the underlying concepts and principles associated with their area(s) of study, and an ability to evaluate and interpret these within the context of that area of study knowledge and critical understanding of wellestablished principles of their area(s) of study, and of the way in which those principles have developed an ability to present, evaluate and interpret qualitative and quantitative data, in order to develop lines of argument and make sound judgements in accordance with basic theories and concepts of ability to apply underlying concepts and principles outside the context in which they were first studies, including, where appropriate, the application of those principles in an employment context knowledge of the main Honours Degree (e.g. BA, BSc, BEng) Graduate Certificate Graduate Diploma a systematic understanding of key aspects of the field of study, including acquisition of coherent and detailed knowledge, at least some of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of defined aspects of a discipline an ability to deploy accurately established techniques of analysis and enquiry within a discipline conceptual understanding that enables the student: o to devise and sustain Integrated Masters (e.g. MEng, MComp, MBBS) Postgraduate Masters (e.g. MA, MSc) Postgraduate Research Masters (e.g. MRes, MLitt) a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship originality in the the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline, and merit publication a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an academic discipline or area of professional practice 1 The descriptor for this level should be met in full for all Foundation Degrees. It should be used as a reference point for Higher Education Diploma awards 6

7 their subject(s) of study methods of enquiry in the subject(s) relevant to the named award, and ability to evaluate critically the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems in the field of study an understanding of the limits of their knowledge, and how this will influences analyses and interpretations based on that knowledge Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to: evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems related to their area(s) of study and/or work communicate the results of their study/work accurately analysis and reliably, and with structured and coherent use a range of established techniques to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information, and to propose solutions to problems arising from that effectively communicate information, arguments arguments, and/or to solve problems, using ideas and techniques, some of which are at the forefront of a discipline o to describe and comment upon particular aspects of current research, or equivalent advanced scholarship in the discipline an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge the ability to manage their own learning, and to make use of scholarly reviews and primary sources (for example, refereed research articles and/or original materials appropriate to the discipline) apply the methods and techniques that they have learned to review, consolidate, extend and apply their knowledge and understanding, and to initiate and carry out projects critically evaluate application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline conceptual understanding that enables the student: o to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline o to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and nonspecialist audiences the general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences 7

8 arguments undertake further training and develop new skills within a structured and managed environment And holders will have: the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of some personal responsibility and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and nonspecialist audiences and deploy key techniques of the discipline effectively undertake further training, develop existing skills and acquire new competences that will enable them to assume significant responsibility within organisations the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data (that may be incomplete), to make judgements, and to frame appropriate questions to achieve a solution identify a range of solutions to a problem communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring: o the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility o decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts o the learning ability needed to undertake appropriate further training of professional or equivalent nature demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring: o the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility o decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations o the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas or approaches. the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments. 8

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