Additional Module Guidance

This page provides additional guidance to assist in module development, including completing module specifications.

Module Specification Guidance

What is a module attribute?

Module attributes can be recorded on module specifications. These are relevant where it is useful to put modules into categories, such as a subject-based category, e.g. to indicate that a module can contribute to a specialist minor/pathway (if not already obvious from the programme requirements). It could also be used to put modules into a themed category, such as 'Languages for All modules'. 

Note this box is not mandatory and can be left blank if not relevant/helpful. 

What is a pre-/co-requisite module?

pre-requisite module is one that students must have taken in a previous academic session in order to be eligible to register on the later, higher module. (A pre-requisite module would not normally be a compulsory module, as students are registered on these automatically).

Note that students simply need to have attempted the pre-requisite module, rather than pass it. Failing a pre-requisite module would not have implications for progression and a student would not be required to wait for resits before registering on the higher module.

If a School requires a pre-requisite module to have been passed, e.g. because the knowledge cannot be obtained elsewhere during the year/will have detrimental effect on the following study, this must be noted in the module specification and in the programme requirements section of the programme specification (and in progression documents). 

There is also a space on the module specification where additional pre-requisites, that are not other UoB modules, can be entered if applicable, e.g. a particular language requirement or other prior knowledge.

co-requisite module is a module on which students have to register at the same time as another module (in the same academic session), but not pass before undertaking the other, i.e. students cannot take one without the other. Again, these would not be compulsory modules as students are automatically registered on these. 

How do I record if my module has an approved exemption from Regulations?

The module specification form includes a question on whether the module has an approved exemption from Regulations, including exceptions relating to the semesterised teaching year structure. This structure requires modules to be delivered in a single same semester.

If a module has an approved exemption, please detail this in the relevant section of the module specification (or if you're using an older template, simply add a row if required).

If the programme as a whole has an exemption, this does not need to be detailed on each module specification; rather, it should be outlined in the relevant section of the programme specification. On the module specifications, simply write, e.g., ‘Approved programme level exception, see programme specification for details’.

If you wish to request a new exception, this will require the completion of a form with College and UoB-level approval. Your College Academic Policy Partner can provide guidance on this.

How should I approach the contact hours section and how does this work for Distance Learning modules?

All modules, including those delivered via Distance Learning, should include a breakdown of contact hours, e.g. the number of hours in lectures, seminars etc. (hover over each type of contact on the module specification for a definition). 

Note that each credit amounts to 10 hours of 'student effort', so a 20 credit module should have 200 hours total, the majority of which will be made up of 'guided independent study', i.e. work undertaken by students outside contact hours, such as revision, work towards an essay, research etc. 

It is left to the module leader’s discretion as to what contact time is most appropriate for the subject. Some departments may have a standard number of contact hours across their modules to ensure consistency, e.g. 20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars for a UG module, but there is freedom with this as long as the total amount of student effort adds up to the correct number of hours for the credit value.

For modules delivered via Distance Learning, the total student effort should be stated as usual and module leaders should put contact hours and some freetext commentary in the individual contact hours boxes to explain how the module will be delivered (note the hours can be indicative only), e.g.:

  • Lecture: 'Approx. 10 hours of video lectures plus 19 hours of teaching material (1 hour per unit)'; '16 hours of content presented via Canvas, including video material'; '20 hours of online asynchronous lectures and online interactive activities'. 
  • Seminar: '4 hours of live seminar'; '8 online synchronous seminars with mandatory attendance'.
  • Tutorial: '3 hours, via online contact'; '12 hours of tutor support through discussion'; 'Students must attend 2 online synchronous assessment 'clinics''.
  • Project supervision: '8 hours supervision on dissertation project'.

The remaining hours would be included in guided independent study as usual.

Are there tips for writing module learning outcomes?

Some top tips are:

  • Focus on outcomes not processes, i.e. what should students be able to do by the end of the module?
  • Start each outcome with an action verb, e.g. 'identify', 'compare', 'analyse'.
  • Use only one action verb per outcome.
  • Avoid vague verbs e.g. 'understand' ('demonstrate an understanding' is preferable).
  • Check that the verbs reflect the level of learning required, e.g. verbs such as 'summarise', 'outline', 'discuss', and 'illustrate' would be more appropriate for a LC module, where students are introduced to an area, whereas 'evaluate', 'appraise', and 'assess' are more appropriate for LH and higher, where students are expected to be able to make critical judgements based on a sound knowledge base.
  • Ensure that outcomes are measurable and linked to the module's assessment, e.g. if students are expected to demonstrate interpersonal skills this cannot be assessed purely through an essay.
  • Limit the number of outcomes.

How much detail on assessment should I include in the specification?

The module specification provides information on the overall method of assessment: it should not contain granular information about the assessment itself, e.g. the subject/topic of coursework, names of specific software that may be used, or how many questions will be asked, thereby giving module leads the flexibility to change these as required without requiring approval. The information in the specification should be the minimum required to check the assessment is an appropriate and suitable means of assessing the learning outcomes and to ensure alignment with the principles of the assessment load guidance (PDF - 391KB) and the course's assessment strategy and/or accreditation requirements. This would generally be the type of assessment (see the section on the coursework and examination assessment categories for examples), the word length for written work, and the time in minutes/hours for presentations/exams. 

Can I give students on a module a choice of assessment?

Yes, within limits. Students could have the option to choose between, e.g., a 2000 word blog post or an essay, a literature review or a presentation (i.e. assessments in the same assessment category), as long as the School and College are satisfied that the module paperwork demonstrates: a sound pedagogic reason for giving students the choice; that the options would require equivalent student effort; and that either assessment would allow students to meet the module’s learning outcomes. The choices would also have to be made clear to the students.

Due to the complexity of organising centrally timetabled exams, this could not be one of the options; to provide students with the opportunity to choose an exam, it would have to be timetabled internally (and it would be up to the School/College to decide if there was sufficient resource to allow this). 

Where can I access module specifications?

The Curriculum Management Team have a record of all module specifications, which can be requested from them. Moreover, Schools are strongly encouraged to maintain their own copies of the module specifications. 

Additional Guidance

Determining the Level of Modules and Offering Modules at Multiple Levels

The level of the module indicates its complexity, depth of study, and is often linked to the year of study, outlined below:

OfS Sector-recognised standards UoB
 Level 4 C: Certificate Level, equivalent to UG Year 1
 Level 5 I: Intermediate Level, equivalent to UG Year 2
 Level 6 H: Honours Level, equivalent to UG Year 3
 Level 7 M: Masters Level
 Level 8 D: Doctoral Level

It is possible to offer a module at multiple levels, e.g. at LH and LM; these modules will have different module codes and module specifications. Modules at different levels would be expected to be differentiated in the learning outcomes, e.g. students at a lower level might only be expected to 'summarise' or 'outline', whereas at the higher level they would be able to 'critically appraise' or 'evaluate'. The level of the module would also be differentiated through the assessment; while the method of assessment can be (but does not have to be) the same for all levels, the criteria/rubric against which it is marked would be different, i.e. the expectations would be different for an LH 4000 word essay compared to an LM 4000 word essay. Processes such as moderation and external examining ensure that modules are assessed against their correct level.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all changes to the module specification require approval?

No, changes to the semester in which the module is delivered and to the module lead can be made simply by emailing the Curriculum Management Team. Changes to formative assessment also do not require formal approval; any changes to formative assessment should be made by administrative staff in your School/Institute (a revised specification can be sent to CMT for their records once the changes have been made locally).

Which changes to the specification will result in the creation of a new module code?

  • Changes to the title of an existing module. 
  • Changing the level of an existing module, e.g. from LC to LI.
  • Changing the credit value of an existing module, e.g. from 10 to 20 credits.

When making changes that will result in a new module code, it is important that the deadlines related to Timetabling are adhered to. If a late change that will result in the generation of a new module code is being proposed, please consider whether the change can be postponed. 

If I'm making the same change to a suite of modules do I have to submit separate modification forms?

No - one modification form can be used to cover numerous modules to explain the changes and rationale. Separate specifications are required, however.

Similarly, multiple modules can be withdrawn on one withdrawal form, if the rationale is the same.


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