Quality Manual

Module specification guidance

This page provides guidance on module specifications and the information that must be publicised to students. This information is primarily directed at staff but may also be of interest to students across all of the UK, China and Malaysia campuses.

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Module details

Includes:  title; session; 

Title of module

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


  • Indicate the academic year in which the new module will first run.



The Higher Education Classification of Study (HeCOS)

Includes: Planning, Performance and Strategic Change

The University's Planning, Performance and Strategic Change Division (PPSC) compiles an annual student data return for the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). As part of this process, we have to return 'subject' data for all modules taken by our students.  In particular, this data is used to identify 'strategically important and vulnerable subjects' which may lead to additional funding for certain subjects. We therefore need to ensure that module subject data is coded accurately and we need help from Schools and Departments as we do not have the subject knowledge required to allocate the more detailed (HeCOS) codes. You will find a list of codes on HESA's website

If you have any questions please contact PPSC. For more information, please consult the following:

Planning, Performance and Strategic Change


Number of credits

The number of credits should be specified.  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. 

The notional equivalent hours of study may not be directly applicable to University of Nottingham apprenticeship programmes where work-based learners have additional contextual opportunities to embed and test learning. Programme approval processes will ensure teaching approaches meet required outcomes for the learners on apprenticeships.

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).


Includes: guidance; Level 0; Level 1; Level 2; Level 3; Level 4

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 or 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.

There are five different levels of modules:

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

All modules submitted for approval from 2005/2006 onwards should have one of the levels set out in the University of Nottingham Qualifications Framework (UNQF). For more information about the UNQF, please consult the following:

University of Nottingham Qualifications Framework



Includes: new modules; Active; Inactive;  Suspended; Closed

There are four types of status that can be applied to modules. For new modules, to be offered in the specified sessions and semester the status in Campus Solutions will be Active:

  • Existing modules can be Active or have an Inactive status applied to indicate one of the following scenarios: 
  • Suspended – the module is not offered in the specified session and semester, but it is anticipated that it will be offered again.
  • Closed - the module will not be offered again.

Semester in which module is taught and assessment period

Includes: measures to protect mobility

  • Modules can generally be offered in the Autumn Semester, Spring Semester or be "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 (PG) modules can also be offered in the summer.
  • If your module does not fit the semester pattern, please idenitfy the module as Intensive Block 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 – for example, 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 appropriate grounding in the discipline) to undertake only the Spring Semester part of the module and be awarded the resulting number of credits and vice versa, for students away in the Spring Semester undertaking only part of the module in the Autumn Semester.
  • 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.

Session availability

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

Requisites for the module

Includes: pre-requisites, co-requisites, anti-requisites

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.

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".

Anti-requisites (if any)

  • Please indicate if there are any excluded combinations of modules.

Student numbers

Includes: places, caps, target students, availability to exchange, availability to undergraduate and postgraduate


  • 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).

Rationale for Cap

  • The rationale for the limitation must be explained.

Target students

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

Availability to exchange/subsidiary/first year students

  • Please indicate whether the module is available to exchange students, subsidiary and first year students and state if there are any restrictions, e.g only students of a particular discipline or programme.

Availability to undergraduate/postgraduate students

  • Please indicate whether or not an undergraduate module can be taken by postgraduate students and whether a level 4 PGT module can be taken by undergraduate students.

Other module details


Summary of content

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

Module web links

  • Indicate any learning environment web lnks, e.g Moodle.  Please provide the web link text and the URL.

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), duration of the activity and number of weeks.

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.


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-compensable. A non-compensable module element is one which must be passed at the relevant level (40% for Honours degrees, 50% for masters' degrees, PG certificates and PG diplomas).

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 (for example, one 1.5-hour examination (50%); one 1,500 word essay (50%)).  Please note that only whole integers are permitted.

In addition:

  • Assessment practices should be informed by reflection, consideration of professional practice, as well as 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, the volume of assessment of the new module should be significantly less than the aggregate assessment of the two former modules.
  • The assessment for a module should be no more that the minimum necessary to test its learning outcomes.
  • 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.
  • Please note that either/or assessment options are not permitted.

As part of the annual update and review of module specifications, schools should consider whether the non-compensable status of an assessment element continues to be necessary for the achievement of either later study (that is, 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 (UEB) and Education and Student Experience Committee (ESEC), 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.

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

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. 


Module convenor   Flag of United Kingdom   Flag of China   Flag of Malaysia

Includes: module contact at the international campus

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 on 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.

Administration details, (School(s) offering the module and percentage split)

Please specify the School offering the module and contributing Schools. This may include Schools offering the module and the percentage split.

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.

Aims, Learning Outcomes and resources

Includes: general statement explaining the purpose of the module; learning outcomes; resources


  • 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 – for example, 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.

Learning outcomes

  • Up to six 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 Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Bodies (PSRB) requirements, more learning outcomes may be necessary.


  • 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.

List which Schools and Faculties have been consulted (and support the proposal)

Includes: submission implications; approval of module submission documents

You should seek comments from all Schools whose students might be interested in taking the proposed module, as well as the School which is the discipline leader for the subject (if this is not the proposing School). All module submission documents must be approved on behalf of Quality and Standards Committee (QSC).

Please note: Submission of the module confirms that adequate consultation over resources has taken place with the library, and any other relevant resource provider (for example, IT Services) and confirms that appropriate consideration of this proposal has been undertaken at School level.
If you have any problems or queries relating to this page, please email: ss-curriculumadvice@nottingham.ac.uk Email
This content was last modified on 17 September 2021

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