Quality Manual

Module Specification Guidance/Regulation

1. Module Code Number

Please remember that the first two digits are the subject area identifier, the third digit the level (i.e. 0 to 5). If a module is taught jointly between more than one School, then the Schools should agree whose identifier appears on the module. The major subject contribution should be the guide. If a module code needs to be changed, a new module record must be created. Module codes should not be reused.

2. Title of Module

Titles should be short, a fair reflection of the subject material contained in the syllabus, and interesting.

3. HESA Subject Area of Study

As you may or may not already be aware, Strategy, Planning and Performance Division (SPP) compiles an annual student data return for the Higher Education Statistics Agency. As part of this process, we have to return 'subject' data for all modules taken by our students. From 09/10, HESA indicated that they would be making more detailed use of this data than they have done previously in particular, it will be used to identify 'strategically important and vulnerable subjects' which may lead to additional funding for certain subjects in future. We therefore need to ensure that module subject data is coded in as much detail as possible. As a result, we now need to seek help from Schools and Departments to ensure that this is done accurately as we do not have the subject knowledge required to allocate the more detailed codes. You’ll find a list of codes as a downloadable document in Saturn next to the dropdown box. If you have any questions please contact Strategy, Planning and Performance.

4. Number of credits

A single credit is notionally intended to represent 10 hours of student input, whether in the form of teaching contact or private study. Credits indicate a quantity of assessed learning and are gained by satisfying the Board of Examiners.  It should be noted that if, exceptionally, the assessment of a postgraduate module is not carried out by the end of the semester in which the module is offered, the credits will not in theory accrue to the student until assessment is completed in the following semester.  All new modules must have a credit value of 10, 20, 30, 40 or 60 credits.  Zero credit modules are only permitted in exceptional circumstances. (for instance where there is a PSRB requirement).

5. Level

No precise definition of level can cover all modules and these guidelines are not intended to be prescriptive. During the course of their degree studies, students are expected to acquire both breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding along with a range of fundamental skills. Course/Programme Directors and Tutors will have the overall balance in mind when advising students on their module choices. All modules should be academically challenging and therefore the content, mode of presentation and mode of assessment should be matched to the student's development.

Level 0 - Foundation year modules. These have a preparatory function, and are designed to give students a grounding in the subject, for example, when a student lacks the relevant A-level.

Level 1 - Modules designed principally for 1st year (Qualifying stage) students. These will normally develop basic knowledge and introduce fundamental concepts and techniques. Any pre-requisites will normally be expressed in terms of relevant pre-University studies.

Level 2 - Modules designed principally for 2nd year students (Part I stage). These will normally look to the next phase of a student's development. They may have pre-requisites based on Level 1 or A modules, they may cover more advanced concepts and may introduce different study skills.

Level 3 - Modules designed principally for 3rd year students (Part II). They will normally build on previous studies, and pre-requisites will commonly be specified. A wide range of study skills may be employed and developed, often with an emphasis on student-centred and student-initiated learning.

Level 4 - Modules designed principally for 4th year students (Part III stage) students and for students who already hold a first degree in an appropriate subject at a suitable standard. These are principally designed to offer extended/advanced study. They will normally have pre-requisites from lower level modules.

All modules submitted for approval from 2005/06 onwards should have one of the levels set out in the University of Nottingham Qualifications Framework.

6. Status

There are four types of status that can be applied to modules. For new modules the status should be:

Live - the module is to be offered in the specified session and semester. Existing modules can be Live or have one of the following statuses applied:

To be withdrawn - the module is to be offered for the last time in the specified session and semester. Module records with this status will automatically be discontinued at the end of that session.

Suspended - the module is not offered in the specified session and semester, but should be published in the Catalogue of Modules as it is anticipated that it will be offered again.

Dormant - the module will not be offered again.

Roll forward only – you would use this status if you need the module to be set up so it can be added to a programme structure, but the module is not running this year. For example, if you had a new undergraduate programme you might want to add the modules for year 2 and year 3 so the programme structure is correct, but the modules are not running this year.

7. Semester in which module is taught and Assessment Period

Modules can generally be offered in the Spring Semester, Autumn Semester or Full Year (year long). A module can be offered in more than one of these periods, but one of them must be indicated as the default.

Postgraduate modules can also be offered in the Summer.

If your module does not fit the semester pattern, please use the Intensive Block option and indicate in the Summary of Content in which term or other learning period the module will be offered.

The module Assessment Period indicates the period at the end of which the formal assessment of the module will be complete. It will usually be the equivalent of the Semester, but exceptionally the Assessment Period may vary, eg an Autumn module may have a formal examination in the Spring and therefore an Assessment Period of "Assessed by the end of Spring Semester".

Year-long modules should include a formative assessment at the end of the Autumn Semester.

Year-long modules should be implemented in a manner that does not interfere strongly with student and staff mobility arranged on a semester-long basis. The form of implementation will therefore depend on current and future plans for mobility and the extent to which provision in a given subject area is organised on a year-long basis. Schools with a presence in the UK and on international campuses should seek the endorsement of all relevant campuses before embarking on any significant shift to year-long modules that affects the provision on an international campus.

Measures that may be necessary in order to protect mobility include (where practicable):

  • Using the formative assessment at the end of the Autumn Semester as summative assessment for mobility students away from the University in the Spring Semester. Alternatively assessments other than formal written examinations may be used.
  • Making provision for mobility students away in the Autumn Semester (and with the appropriate grounding in the discipline) to undertake only the Spring Semester part of the module and be awarded the resulting number of credits.
  • Where students undertaking only the Spring Semester element of a year-long module have minor gaps of knowledge in regard to the material covered in the Autumn Semester, providing additional tuition for students in those minor elements.

8. Session availability

Is this module to be taught every session or, for example, only in even numbered years, e.g. 2012/13?

9. Pre-requisites for admission to the module (if any)

Normally some pre-requisites would be expected for level 2 ,3 and 4 modules and these should be entered as module codes where they are required. There may be a small number of cases where, for a variety of reasons, it is only possible to make an examination of the student's knowledge of a subject after they have completed the second module. See Assessment Period above.

10. Co-requisites for the module (if any)

Please note: although there may be specific instances where it makes good academic sense for a student to take two modules together, the definition of a module is "a specified programme of study which is self-contained".

11. Expected Number of Students taking module

Indicate the number of students expected to take the module in the following academic session. If the expected number of students is also a cap, please indicate this and explain the rationale for the cap (see below).

12. Rationale for Cap

The rationale for this limitation must be explained.

13. Target Students

If a module is available to only a limited group of students (e.g. Honours students) please specify.

14. Availability to Exchange Students

It will be assumed that a module is available to exchange students, unless otherwise specified.

15. Summary of Content

Please use a style of presentation which makes your information reasonably concise, informative and, above all, comprehensible. e.g. a sentence such as "This module considers..." followed by bullet points of major topics included.

16. Module Web Links

Indicate any learning environment web links, eg Moodle.

17. Module Activities

It is important that you indicate in detail all the contact activities for the module with a clear brief description of what is involved in the activity. Indicate the type of activity, number per week (indicating in the information section where an activity will not take place every week) and duration of the activity.

Where the module in question is the dissertation, please indicate the minimum supervision arrangements. If appropriate, you should include a description of a range of different teaching methods.

18. Assessment details

You must describe each assessment element in detail, particularly the length of examinations and the word-length of any essay, project or dissertation and if any element is non-compensatable.  A non-compensatable module element is one which must be passed at the relevant level (40% for Honours degrees, 50% for Masters, PGCerts and PGDips).  A student does have the opportunity to resit the module element for progression purposes (unless they are in their final year of study as an undergraduate), but they must achieve over the minimum level in one of their attempts to be awarded the credits associated with that module.  The contribution of each assessment element to the overall module mark should be clearly specified (e.g. one 1.5-hour examination (50%); one 1,500 word essay (50%)).

Assessment practices should be informed by reflection, consideration of professional practice and subject-specific and educational scholarship.

The volume, timing and nature of assessment enable students to demonstrate the extent to which they have achieved the intended learning outcomes.

Where a 20 credit module is created from two 10 credit modules, teh volume of assessment of the new module should be significantly less than the aggregate assessment of teh two former modules.

Where it is felt necessary to have more than one component of assessment to cover all the learning outcomes, assessing any given learning outcome more than once should be avoided.

There should not be more than one timetabled examination for a module, except where it is necessary to have both a written and a practical examination.

Where a student must repeat their enrolment in order to be reassessed in a specific module this should be stated in the module specification.

As part of the annual update and review of module specifications Schools should consider whether the non-compensatable status of an assessment element continues to be necessary for the achievement of either later study (i.e. a non-compensated pass acts as a pre-requisite to a later compulsory module) or achievement of the programme learning outcomes or accreditation requirements.

It is an established principle of the University, endorsed by University Executive Board and Teaching and Learning Board, that when registered for a University of Nottingham qualification all teaching and assessment must be in English. The only exception is where the subject of study is a language or literature other than English.

The form of reassessment of the module will be the same as the original assessment unless stated to the contrary in this section.  If the reassessment is different, it must consist of either a single examination or a single coursework assessment that replaces all the failed assessment components of the module for reassessment purposes. 

19. Module Convenor

There should be a named member of University staff to whom all queries concerning the module can be addressed. This person will normally be a permanent member of staff and accessible to students. Where a module is delivered in both the UK and an international campus, a module contact should be appointed at the international campus who will:

- undertake the liaison with the UK-based module convenor

- have delegated responsibility for the modules delivery at the international campus

- be the contact person in regard to that module for students at the international campus.

20. Administration Details i.e. School(s) offering the module and percentage split

Please specify the School offering the module and contributing Schools. It is very important that the School split accurately reflects the proportion of the module taught by staff in each of the Schools, since these figures are used to calculate student load.

21. Aims

This should comprise a general statement explaining the purpose of the module, how students will benefit from taking it and its role in the context of the subject as a whole. It is expected that these will vary among the different modules contributing towards the same programme. You could indicate the knowledge and subject-specific skills which you expect a student to have on completion of the module eg. the aim of a module might be to teach, for example, computer-aided design skills, which would be different from the aim of a programme which might be to teach general IT skills.

22. Learning Outcomes

Up to 6 learning outcomes are reasonable for a module with fewer learning outcomes expected for modules of a smaller credit size, and between 12 and 16 are reasonable for a programme.  In some cases, for example due to PSRB requirements, more learning outcomes may be necessary.

23. Resources

This section is designed to ensure that the University has an adequate range of resources and staff available to support the module. No additional resources can be guaranteed, and offering units should normally expect to meet additional costs from their budget allocations. If the number of students allowed to take a module is constrained, then the cap should be indicated as well as the basis for selecting which students will have priority registration onto the module (see Target Students).

24. List which Schools and faculties have been consulted (and support the proposal)

You should seek comments from all Schools whose students might be interested in taking the proposed module. and the School which is the discipline leader for the subject, if this is not the proposing School. All Module Submission Documents must be approved by Quality and Standards Committee.

25. Approval by Head of School and other resource providers

Please note: Submission of the module confirms that adequate consultation over resources has taken place with the library, and any other relevant resource provider (e.g. IT Services) and confirms that the appropriate consideration of this proposal has been undertaken at School level. 

Downloadable version of this page in Word format.

Return to Programme Approval home page


Revised 15 January 2018

Student Services

Portland Building, University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Contact us