Quality Manual

The Quality Assurance Agency Qualification Framework

This page provides information about the Quality Assurance Agency's Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) and its use as a reference point for Higher Education Providers. Its content may be of interest to staff and students across all of the UK, China and Malaysia campuses.

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Descriptor for a qualification at Certificate of Higher Education level

These 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
  • 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 their subject(s) of study.  

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 and reliably, and with structured and coherent arguments
  • Undertake further training and develop new skills within a structured and managed environment.  

and will have:

  • The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of some personal responsibility.  
 

Descriptor for a qualification at Foundation Degree level

These are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • Knowledge and critical understanding of the well-established principles of their area(s) of study, and of the way in which those principles have developed  
  • Ability to apply underlying concepts and principles outside the context in which they were first studied, including, where appropriate, the application of those principles in an employment context
  • Knowledge of the main 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 influences analyses and interpretations based on that knowledge.  

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • Use a range of established techniques to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information, and to propose solutions to problems arising from that analysis  
  • Effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences, and deploy key techniques of the discipline effectively
  • Undertake further training, develop existing skills and acquire new competencies that will enable them to assume significant responsibility within organisations.  

and will have:  

  • The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making. 
 

Descriptor for a qualification at Bachelor's Degree with Honours level

These are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • A systematic understanding of key aspects of their 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:
  • To devise and sustain arguments, and/or to solve problems, using ideas and techniques, some of which are at the forefront of a discipline
  • 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).

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • 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 arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data (that may be incomplete), to make judgements, and to frame appropriate questions to achieve a solution - or identify a range of solutions - to a problem
  • Communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.

and will have:

  • The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:  
  • The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
  • Decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts
  • The learning ability needed to undertake appropriate further training of a professional or equivalent nature.
 

Descriptor for a qualification at Master's Degree level

These are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • 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 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:
  • To evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline
  • To evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.  

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • 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 non-specialist audiences  
  • 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.

and will have:

  • The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
  • The exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
  • Decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations
  • The independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.
 

Descriptor for a qualification at Doctoral Degree level

These are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • 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
  • 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.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • 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
  • 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.

and will have:

  • 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.

There is no Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) qualification descriptor for Foundation awards. The University has therefore adopted the following descriptor for qualifications at Foundation level (as described in the next section)

 

Descriptor for a qualification at Foundation level

These are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  • Knowledge of the basic concepts and principles associated with their field of study;
  • An ability to present qualitative and quantitative data;
  • An ability to develop arguments and make judgements in accordance with basic theories and concepts of the field of study;
  • Qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment undertaking allocated tasks. 

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

  • Solve basic problems related to the field of study;
  • Communicate the results of their study;
  • Undertake further training within a structured and managed environment
 
If you have any problems or queries relating to this page, please email: Quality-Manual-Enquiries@nottingham.ac.uk  Email
This content was last modified on 29 June 2020

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