Quality Manual

Partnerships and placements

This page provides guidance on different types of partnership arrangements, as well as the University's guidelines on placement learning. This information is relevant to staff and students across all of the UK, China and Malaysia campuses and may also be of interest to external partners.  

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Overview and basic principles

Includes: UK Quality Code, Advice and Guidance: Partnerships; international campuses

The University of Nottingham’s guidelines for the approval of collaborative provision arrangements have been drafted to align with relevant guidance provided by the Quality Assurance Agency. For more detailed information, please consult the following page of the QAA website:

UK Quality Code, Advice and Guidance: Partnerships

The sections "Approval of partnership arrangements" to "Types of collaboration" (below) only apply to partnerships leading to the award of a University of Nottingham qualification as 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

For information about other types of partnership, please see the section entitled "Partnerships not leading to a University of Nottingham qualification" further down this page.

Basic principles

For all partnership arrangements (as opposed to placement learning opportunities), a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) must be signed on behalf of the University by an authorised member of University Executive Board (UEB) on behalf of Education and Student Experience Committee (ESEC) or (in regard to relevant postgraduate agreements) by Research and Graduate Services.

International campuses   Flag of China   Flag of Malaysia

Both University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) and University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) award University of Nottingham degrees. As such, the Higher Education (HE) provision is regulated by UK regulators and Malaysian or Chinese HE regulators respectively. UNM and UNNC must therefore meet UK quality standards in addition to any local ones.

Teaching collaborations with other institutions must follow University of Nottingham procedures and approvals to ensure they meet quality standards, regulatory requirements and diligence checks as outlined within the Quality Manual. We will endeavour to conclude agreements so that all campuses are included.

All teaching and assessment of students who are registered for a University of Nottingham qualification must be in English. The only exception is where the subject of study is a language or literature other than English.

Approval of partnership arrangements

Includes: Memoranda of Agreement (MoA); Stage 1 - approval of partner; Stage 2 - basis for the partnership and formulation of memoranda agreement; partnership history; Collaborate provision register - Workspace; Stage 3 - university-level approval by Quality and Standards Committee

The University has a three-stage approach to approval and review of teaching partnerships and formulation of Memoranda of Agreement (MoA) as follows:

Stage 1 – Approval of partner

Approval of all partners and partnerships is subject to support being received from the relevant Head of School(s) and, in the case of partnerships involving University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) or University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC), the relevant Vice-Provost(s) for Teaching and Learning.

If certain criteria are met, the approval of the partner will be automatic. For all other cases within the UK, the approval of the partner must be given by the relevant Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor (APVC). 

For partnerships involving only an international campus, the role of APVC will be undertaken by an equivalent representative (on that campus) in consultation with the Vice-Provost for Teaching and Learning and the International Partnerships team in the UK. This approval will be granted on the basis of consideration of a Partnership Concept Paper (PCP) prepared by the International Partnerships team and/or the relevant school.

Stage 2 – Discussion of the basis for the partnership and formulation of Memoranda of Agreement

The depth of scrutiny involved in approval of the basis for the partnership will vary depending on the type of partnership and whether it was necessary for a Partnership Concept Paper (PCP) to be considered.

Please be aware that templates already exist for standard regulatory, quality assurance, administrative, financial and legal arrangements for each of the types of partnerships.

  • Schools will liaise with the International Partnerships team (for international partnerships) or Student Services Development (for home partnerships) to draft a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA), using those templates.
  • For partnerships involving an international campus only, the role of UK professional services departments will be undertaken by the equivalent units on that campus, under the supervision of the Vice-Provost for Teaching and Learning.
  • During the final stages of development, documentation will be presented at the tri-campus Partnerships Operational Meeting for comment – this will include representatives from other professional services from the relevant campuses – for example, Student Services Delivery, Curriculum, Admissions, Specialists Processes, Graduate School, and Quality and Standards.

Partnership history

A list of live and historical partnerships is maintained on the Collaborative Provision Register (hosted on Workspace). To access the Workspace, please use the following link (entering your university username and password when prompted):

Collaborative provision register – Workspace

Stage 3 – University level approval by Quality and Standards Committee

Following consultation at the Partnerships Operational meeting, Student Services Development (Academic Processes) will provide the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with a commentary containing background information about the proposed arrangement, as well as any supporting documentation, to a relevant representative of Quality and Standards Committee (QSC).

If satisfied, the QSC member will:

  • Recommend to the Pro-Vice Chancellor (PVC) for Global Engagement for international partnership or;
  • Recommend to the PVC for Education and Student Experience (or other authorised member of the University's Executive Board (UEB)) for home partnership or;
  • Recommend to Research and Graduate Services (in regard to relevant postgraduate agreements); that the MoA be signed.

If substantial quality and standards issues are deemed to exist, the member of QSC may choose to refer the matter to the whole committee. Once a recommendation to approve the MoA has been made by QSC, the International Partnerships team will arrange for the signing of international MoAs and another relevant professional service (for example, either Research and Graduate Services or Research and Innovation) will undertake this role in the case of UK MoAs.

For more information about QSC, please consult the following page:

Quality and Standards Committee


Reviews of partnership

Includes: conditions; programme monitoring and review

Partnership programmes are subject to annual monitoring and Educational Enhancement Assurance Reviews (EEARs) in the same manner as the University’s other programmes. In addition, the partnership is subject to review whenever a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) requires renewal (the maximum period for an MoA is five years).

For MoAs lasting less than three years, a renewal review is not needed if the initial approval or a review has occurred within the last three years. Further information about renewal reviews for MoAs is available from the Teaching Partnership Handbook.

For more information about our monitoring processes, please consult the following:

Programme monitoring and review


Types of collaboration

Includes: progression; articulation; off-campus delivery; joint award; dual award; joint supervision

The following types of collaboration constitute an exhaustive list and no other types of collaboration leading to a University of Nottingham qualification (that is to say, franchises and validations) will be permitted.


  • Progression arrangements enable students who have successfully completed study at one organisation to be considered for entry (individually) onto the beginning of a University of Nottingham programme. 
  • The two separate components are the responsibility of the respective organisations delivering them. Students normally have a contractual relationship with the organisation which delivers the first component and subsequently with the University of Nottingham.


  • Articulation agreements enable all students who satisfy academic criteria on one programme to be admitted with advanced standing to a subsequent stage of a programme at the University of Nottingham (these are usually 2+2 arrangements but can also be in other forms).
  • These arrangements are subject to formal agreements between the parties and normally involve credit accumulation and transfer, so that credit achieved for the approved study at the first provider is transferred to contribute to the programme and award completed at the University of Nottingham.
  • The two separate components are the responsibility of the respective organisations delivering them but, together, contribute to a single University of Nottingham award. Students normally have a contractual relationship with the organisation which delivers the first component and subsequently with the degree-awarding body.

Off-campus delivery

  • In an off-campus delivery model, teaching is provided entirely by University of Nottingham staff, but delivery occurs away from any of the University's campuses and the provision of facilities (for example, teaching accommodation, library and IT resources, administrative support and others) is undertaken partly or wholly by the partner institution.

Joint award

  • Joint Award is an arrangement under which two or more awarding bodies together provide a programme leading to a joint award (single certification) made jointly by both, or all, participants, replacing separate institutional or national qualifications. 

Dual award

  • This is an arrangement involving more than one degree awarding body working together to offer a jointly conceived programme but usually designed in a way to enable students to achieve more than one distinct set of criteria.
  • A student may not need to satisfy the requirements of all partners to receive an award. Students who successfully complete both programmes receive separate institutional or national certificates, one for each of the two separate qualifications, granted by each of the awarding bodies involved. Those qualifications can be at different levels.

Joint supervision

  • University of Nottingham staff and staff of the partner institution jointly deliver supervision of multiple numbers of postgraduate research students registered with the University of Nottingham and studying for a Nottingham qualification only. This may include some element of off-campus delivery. 
  • The additional information available in the Teaching Partnership Handbook outlines the quality assurance issues and financial considerations to be borne in mind when considering whether to establish a partnership arrangement.

Partnerships not leading to a University of Nottingham qualification

Includes: frameworks; pre-degree foundation

This section applies to teaching-related partnerships that use the University of Nottingham brand but which do not involve the award of a qualification listed in the University of Nottingham Qualifications Framework (UNQF). For more information, please consult the following:

University of Nottingham Qualifications Framework

Such partnerships should have a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) or other contractual document that  follows the normal MoA template in all relevant matters, should involve consultation by way of Partnership Operational meetings if University of Nottingham student status is being granted to participants in the partnership, and be approved as follows:

  • CPD partnerships of this type should be approved by the Director of Legal Services
  • Pre-degree foundation or access partnerships should be approved by the Chair of Foundation Year Committee

Any other partnerships of this type not leading to the award of a University of Nottingham qualification, and not covered above, should be referred to the Quality and Standards team for consideration of the most appropriate signatory. 


Placement learning

Includes: Careers and Employability Service; types of placement; preparation for placement learning (including responsibilities of the School); approval of placement providers; during placement learning; post-exchange or placement learning

The University of Nottingham’s policy for placement learning is intended to be sufficiently broad to cover all types of work-based or study-based arrangements at the University and outlines the minimum requirements which schools and professional services are expected to meet in arrangements for exchange or placement learning.

It is not intended to cover learning outside the University which is not a planned part of a programme of study, such as voluntary placements, part-time, term-time and vacation work which students have arranged for themselves. For more information about such activities, please consult the following:

Careers and Employability Service

Types of placement

Within the University of Nottingham there are several different types of placement learning for students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses. These are:

Academic placements

  • Undertaking study overseas as part of a university or language school programme.

Work and industrial placements

  • To gain work and industrial experience relevant to the course or aligned to an area of career interest.

Practice placements

  • To develop the practical skills and competencies that will be required for practice in a profession or other employment.

Language assistantships

  • Working at a school abroad to improve knowledge of a foreign culture and language.
The method of assessment or credit rating of the placement varies between courses and should be outlined in the school guidelines. On some placements students are assessed and gain credits which count to their final award, whilst on other placements there are no credits awarded but completion of the placement is required in order to meet progression requirements.
Preparation for placement learning

Approval of placement providers

Resources have been made available to help staff with setting up and obtaining approval for exchange programmes and placements, including the Student Services Documentation Hub, an area of Workspace and the University of Nottingham Safety Office – Placements webpage.

This covers the considerations to be taken into account when establishing a new exchange or placement, including the need to undertake a risk assessment for the potential exchange or placement at the outset and ensure the school can provide appropriate support and information for the assistance of students planning to undertake an exchange or placement.

To access the Partnership development Workspace, please use the following link (entering your university username and password when prompted):

Partnership development – Workspace

For more information about placement considerations, please consult the following:

University of Nottingham Safety Office Website – Placements

Schools should ensure that appropriate internal mechanisms are in place to monitor and evaluate placement providers and partner institutions and the learning opportunities offered. These due diligence procedures will be proportionate to the complexity and volume of the exchange or placement provision being offered.


Pre-placement preparation

Students who undertake a UK based placement off campus during their studies will be hosted by a placement provider, e.g. the NHS for health sciences students. Students on placement are expected to adhere to the policies and practices of their host organisation and the requirements of workplace based assessments, including specified working days and working hours. As part of pre-placement preparation within Schools and at the placement provider, students will be advised on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion issues within the workplace, legal requirements of the placement provider and issues around the dignity of the customer/patient.      

Students undertaking placement work overseas will also receive preparation on the cultural expectations and differences in the host environment. Students are strongly advised to make themselves aware of the different cultural context in which they will be required to undertake their learning, assessment or research. 

Adjustment to placement on religious grounds

Students wishing to request an adjustment to their placement on religious grounds should contact their home School at the earliest possible opportunity, and prior to the start of the placement, to discuss this. It will then be for the home School to assess and approve any adjustment and to liaise with the placement provider as necessary.  

The placement provider will take account of business needs and current policies and practices in reaching a decision and it cannot be assumed that the placement provider will grant permission. In some cases it will not be possible, due to legitimate reasons, for a religious observance request to be granted yet still necessary for a student to continue in the placement or with other work related learning. 

General principles

Schools should include information about exchange or placement learning in their programme specifications for relevant courses. This should include intended learning outcomes (which should be related to the course learning outcomes) monitoring and review procedures and methods of assessment.

The school should consider whether any assessment of exchange or placement learning is covered by their arrangements for internal moderation and external examining and whether the standards which are applied to any assessment of exchange or placement learning are consistent with available subject benchmarks and other relevant reference points and, where appropriate, fulfil professional or regulatory body requirements. Agreements with placement providers and partner institutions should also include information on requirements (academic or otherwise) for passing the placement, and consequences of failure.

Where the exchange or placement learning is replacing learning that would otherwise take place within the University, schools should ensure that by the end of their studies the students will have achieved the learning outcomes set out in the relevant programme specification. It is therefore necessary for schools to assure themselves that the choice of subjects taken during the exchange or placement enables the integrity of the programme to be maintained as well as ensuring that the level and volume of study and the assessment of it warrants the award of the same number of credits as are being missed at the University.

Where the partner institution or placement provider does not offer learning that delivers required learning outcomes that are not met by other parts of the student's programme, the school may require the student to undertake additional work during their exchange or placement or to take particular modules on their return to the University to achieve those learning outcomes. Any constraints on the allowed learning during a period of exchange or placement should be clearly stated in the relevant programme specification.

Responsibilities of the school

Information for students
  • Schools should inform eligible students at an appropriate stage of exchange or placement opportunities offered by the school.
  • Schools should ensure that students are adequately informed about the procedures for securing, approving and allocating exchange and placements and if applicable define their procedures and criteria for approval of individual opportunities.
  • Schools should ensure that procedures are in place to inform students where requests to undertake exchange or placements have not been approved. Where consultation with professional services departments is required, all involved should be kept fully informed and notified of any outcome.
  • Schools should ensure that they have sufficient up-to-date information about each of their partner institutions and placement providers for dissemination to interested students.
  • Where relevant, students should be informed in detail about the programme of language study which is required, and about language study facilities at the University.
  • Schools should ensure that students are adequately informed about the academic requirements of the exchange or placement learning period and, if applicable, how the marks obtained will be processed and incorporated into their degree classification.
  • Students should be aware of the procedures for claiming extenuating circumstances.
  • Students should be informed about the consequences of failure to secure or fully attend and complete an exchange or placement.
  • Learning Agreements, Practice Action Plans and Student Work Training Approval forms (as appropriate) must be concluded with the student prior to departure.
  • Schools should ensure that students are adequately informed about any induction and registration procedures at the placement provider or partner institution.
  • Schools should ensure that the student is aware of relevant health and safety, insurance, personal safety and cultural information.
  • Students should be provided with full contact details for the members of staff who will be responsible for them during their exchange/placement learning period both in the school and at the placement provider or partner institution.
  • Students should be provided with information about the University’s support services that will remain available to them during the exchange or placement and about the procedures in place should an emergency arise.
  • Schools should ensure that students are aware of the University’s complaints procedures and that these should be used if students wish to make a complaint regarding their exchange or placement.
Information to staff
  • Schools should ensure that staff responsible for exchange or placement learning activities are adequately trained to meet the needs of their role.
  • Placement providers and partner institutions should be informed of the mechanism for making complaints.
  • Schools must ensure that the placement provider or partner institution has been provided with information about the student by the deadline required by the placement provider or partner institution.
  • Schools should ensure that Student Services Development (Academic Processes) or equivalent and the Global Engagement team have been informed of the students who will be undertaking a study abroad exchange period or placement and that these offices are notified immediately of any subsequent changes.
Regarding the rights and responsibilities of students 

Schools should ensure that students are aware of their responsibilities:

  • To maintain contact with their home school and tutor or study abroad contact (as appropriate) in accordance with any agreed arrangements prior to commencement of the exchange or placement;
  • As representatives of the University;
  • Towards the placement provider or partner institution and its customers, clients, patients, service users, employees and the general public. This can include complying with the laws of the host country to which they will be subject during their stay, maintaining appropriate dress or uniform code and maintaining punctuality, reliability and professional conduct;
  • For managing their learning and professional relationships;
  • For recording their progress and achievements;
  • For alerting the placement provider or partner institution and their home school to problems with the exchange or placement that might prevent the progress or satisfactory completion of the exchange or placement.

Schools should ensure that students are aware of their rights:

  • To a safe exchange or placement environment;
  • To the existence of any support services available to them during their stay in the host country; and
  • To be treated in accordance with applicable legislation.
Information for students who have a disability
Schools have a responsibility to ensure that the needs of students who have a disability and who are participating in exchanges or placements are considered to departure and that appropriate support is available before, during and after their placements.
Regarding the responsibilities of placement providers and partner institutions

Schools should be able to assure themselves that placement providers and partner institutions know what their responsibilities are during the period of exchange or placement learning including their roles in providing appropriate learning opportunities, the assessment of students and the health and safety of students.

Placement providers and partner institutions should also be informed of the mechanism for making complaints.

During placement learning

All schools should:

  • require students to keep in regular contact with the school during their placement period in order to review their progress. This could be facilitated by e-mail communication. In addition it is recommended that academics or other agreed members of staff within the school or professional services department aim to visit students during the placement period.
  • be given information about their subsequent period of study back at the University, particularly any regulation changes.
Post-exchange or placement learning

All schools should:

  • monitor and periodically review their exchange and placement policies and procedures in order to evaluate their effectiveness in providing intended learning outcomes and meeting appropriate levels of quality and standards.
  • be encouraged to write a brief evaluation of their experiences at the partner institution or placement provider and country (if applicable) in order to provide user-friendly advice for future students.
  • seek formal or informal feedback from the partner institution or placement provider.
  • consider holding information events for future students, using the returning students, and should consider asking returners to help integrate incoming students from partner institutions.
  • remind students to complete reports, receipts and contracts relating to the student grant as applicable.

Marks and credit transfer for students on study abroad placements at educational institutions

Includes: setting up agreements; Credit and Grade Transfer Committee; credit equivalence; mark translation; extenuating circumstances; Student Learning Agreements; recording of credits and marks (including Credit Transfer Form)

Where students participate in periods of study abroad at another educational institution which result in the award of marks and credit by the partner institution, the University undertakes to provide arrangements for the consistent transfer of credit and marks to Nottingham for the purpose of calculating final degrees.

This will ensure that students on international exchanges are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged in relation to peers remaining in Nottingham.

For more information, please consult the following

Credit and Grade Transfer Policy

While the management of the credit transfer process is the responsibility of Student Services, schools are responsible for carrying out the mark translation using the approved translation tables. Oversight of the processes is devolved to the Credit and Grade Translation Committee (CGTC) which is a sub-committee of Quality and Standards Committee (QSC). 

Setting up agreements

The ownership of an exchange scheme or approval of a university wide partner for student exchange  rests at school level. School Teaching Committees (or equivalent) should play a role in the development of links and the approval of the workload of individual students.

When developing exchange agreements at a school level, schools should follow the guidelines issued by Student Services and submit a Quality Assurance Checklist as part of the Due Diligence process. Where an exchange scheme is being established with a new host university (i.e. one with no history of exchanges with University of Nottingham), the Quality Assurance Checklist as part of the Due Diligence process will record the assessment process at the partner and resit process, as applicable. This will be reported to the CGTC with reference to approved policies in the destination country and a proposed mark translation table. 

Credit and Grade Transfer Committee

The Credit and Grade Transfer Committee (CGTC) is a sub-committee of QSC. The committee’s remit is to review the operation of the credit transfer process, including the detailed scrutiny of the conversion tables and to receive reports from Exam Boards. Schools and Student Services may refer any issues that arise from their application (and any other aspect of the policy) with a view to updating the tables as appropriate. The CGTC will be chaired by a member of QSC and have representation from each Faculty and from all three campuses. The CGTC will report on its activity to the October meeting of QSC.

Credit equivalence

All schools must define and document the amount of work to be undertaken by the student at the exchange institution which corresponds most closely to the number of credits required for that period of academic study at Nottingham.

This should be done by referring to the published guidelines of the CGTC and referring any queries to Student Services.

Mark translation

Student Services will support the work of CGTC by maintaining a mark translation table for each host institution and the use of these tables in converting the unit marks supplied by the host into marks to be returned for the student’s record is now mandatory. Schools are responsible for applying these translation tables to generate marks for each student. These marks should be approved by the appropriate Examination Board.

Where an Examination Board believes that the application of the translation table produces an unfair outcome for an individual student or group of students, they should make a case to QSC to allow an outcome outside of regulations. 

Schools should submit an annual report to the CGTC describing any issues arising from the application of the credit & grade transfer process. This report should include:

  • suggestions (with justification) for modifications to the mark translation tables;
  • any concerns around the handling of extenuating circumstances by the host institution;
  • any practical issues that arise from re-assessment of failed modules;
  • any other issues that may require changes to the terms of the exchange agreement.

A standard report pro-forma will be provided to School Examinations Officers by Student Services.

Extenuating Circumstances

Schools must ensure that host institutions report on how any extenuating circumstances (EC) experienced by students on an exchange have been dealt with. These reports should be considered by a School EC panel. If the actions taken by the host institution are not considered to be appropriate by the EC panel, they may recommend further remediation in line with the University’s EC policy. In exceptional cases where this is still felt to lead to an unfair outcome for the student, a case to QSC should be made for an outcome outside of regulations to be allowed. The relevant Board of Examiners should be made aware of the existence of such extenuating circumstances and the remediation agreed.  

Student Learning Agreements

Schools must ensure that each student undertaking an exchange has an individual Learning Agreement that is approved by the School and the student prior to their final commitment to undertaking the exchange.

Learning Agreements must include the following elements:

a. A link to the conversion tables(s) to be used.

b. An explicit   allocation of University of Nottingham credits to each module (or equivalent) to be taken at the host institution. Students attending the same host institution should undertake a broadly equivalent workload to other Nottingham exchange students in the same subject area. Students who are spending one semester at an exchange institution should normally take a minimum of 50 and a maximum of 70 credits worth of courses or modules at that institution.

c. Clear identification of any modules that will be treated as non-compensatable.

d. Clear information on the way that extenuating circumstances will be dealt with should they arise during the placement including links to the host institution’s relevant policies and a requirement to copy any correspondence (claims, outcomes etc) arising from the use of those policies to a named member of staff in the home school.

e. Clear information on re-assessment opportunities available should a fail mark be returned by the host institution. This should include, where appropriate, links to the host institution’s re-assessment policies. The available options for re-assessment are:

i. the re-assessment(s) are set, taken and marked by the host institution during the period of the exchange (requires the prior approval of the host institution);

ii. the re-assessment(s) are set and marked by the host institution but taken at the University of Nottingham after the end of the exchange (requires the prior approval of the host institution);

iii. the re-assessments(s) are set and marked by the student’s home school after the end of the exchange;

iv. the student is required to enrol on a substitute module at University of Nottingham in order to accrue the credits not gained during the placement. This may entail the student enrolling on extra credits during the next stage of their programme in order to complete the previous stage. Alternatively, it may mean that the student is unable to progress to the next stage until the requisite credits have been gained by taking the substitute module(s) as a part-time student. 

Guidance on drafting Student Learning Agreements will be provided by the Global Engagement team.

Recording of credits and marks

The school should inform the Assessments Teams within Student Services of the allocation of credits to be taken by each individual student for the purposes of module registration and marks processing.

This should be done by completing the Credit Transfer Form. ‘Credit Transfer' modules will be created in the student record and assigned the appropriate amount of credit. The credit values of the modules should equate to Nottingham credit values (minimum of 10, and then multiples of 5).

When completing your credit transfer, please use the following:

Schools must arrive at a single mark for each unit of work (module equivalent) studied abroad. The marks should be recorded against the credit equivalent modules taken at the partner institution.


Please be aware that these will not apply to work and industrial placements.

If you have any problems or queries relating to this page, please contact:

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This content was last modified on 03 November 2023

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