How your course is structured

All courses at the University are broken down into years or stages and modules that are linked to those years. Passing each module will award you with credit which will contribute to achievement of your overall award.

Modules will normally give either 15 or 30 credits for undergraduate courses or up to 60 credits for postgraduate courses. The amount of credit you will receive will depend on the level of effort required by you, which is measured in terms of ‘notional learning hours’. Your Programme Handbook will give you an exact breakdown of your own course and the modules you will be studying.

At Bucks 1 unit of credit is the equivalent of 10 notional learning hours. A 15 credit module therefore represents 150 hours and includes:

  • the scheduled teaching you will receive (often known as ‘contact hours’)
  • time spent on placement or work experience, and
  • your own time reading around your subject area, preparing for your lectures or seminars, and completing your assignments.

Undergraduate courses

A typical full-time undergraduate degree programme consists of three-years of full-time study. Each year is made up of 120 credits which will be set at particular academic level. Academic levels are designed to be progressively harder the higher the level of achievement.

In total, therefore, a degree programme will be made up of 360 credits. This is broken down as follows:

  • Year One: 120 Credits at Level Four (1200 hours)
  • Year Two: 120 Credits at Level Five (1200 hours)
  • Year Three: 120 Credits at Level Six (1200 hours)

For each year of study, you might study four 30 credit modules or up to eight 15 credit modules. Depending on your course, modules will either be ‘year-long’ or might start and finish in a particular Semester (effectively half a year of study or 15 weeks). An undergraduate year typically consists of 30 weeks; for each week you should expect to be spending the equivalent of 40 hours on your course.

The award is set at the highest level of achievement, so a degree programme is considered to be a Level Six award. The Academic Qualifications Framework document has structures for other awards offered by the University.

Postgraduate courses

A typical full-time postgraduate course such as a Master’s programme will consist of one year of full-time study totalling 180 credits. Unlike an undergraduate programme, all Master’s level study is set at Level Seven, while a complete year will form the equivalent of 1800 hours.

A full-time Master’s programme will typically be longer than the standard undergraduate year and will normally be 45 weeks of teaching. Again, for each week of the course you should expect to be spending the equivalent of 40 hours on your studies.