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Credit framework

The University expresses the structure of most of its taught programmes in terms of credits. Each programme unit has a tariff of credit points to indicate the volume of learning; one credit point represents ten hours of student effort spent on learning activities, including all forms of study, preparation of assignments, revision and assessment.

The credit framework also includes the level of the unit. Different levels should align with those in the national QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications  (PDF document) which covers awards from Undergraduate Certificate to Doctorate.

Credits are awarded to students who successfully complete a programme unit, by attending as required and satisfying the criteria for assessment.

Progression rules also recognise circumstances in which units where a student has failed marginally to reach the required standard may be compensated by sufficiently clear passes in other units.

A credit framework serves a number of purposes:

a) Equity - It helps to ensure that the demands of different programmes are broadly comparable. E.g. all full-time undergraduates are expected to commit the same number of hours to their studies each year.

b) Interdisciplinarity - It facilitates the construction of programmes that include units from different disciplines enabling the contribution of each to be recognised clearly and so treated fairly.

c) Progression - It makes clear that learning proceeds from one level to the next, and helps staff to make decisions about the progression of students and the prerequisites for study at each stage of a programme.

d) Standards - It makes clear the level of the certificates, diplomas and degrees offered by the university, and can facilitate 'intermediate' awards to students who do not complete a full degree programme.

e) Transfer - It helps to demonstrate what a student has already studied successfully, and thus facilitates decisions about the movement of students between programmes and from one institution to another.

The University's credit framework is consistent with those adopted by most UK universities, and is as follows:

Credits and programme structure

  • The 30-week academic year comprises 120 credits, normally split 60/60 per semester (or exceptionally 70/50 where choice is allowed).
  • This equates to an average 40 hours of student effort per week for each of the 30 weeks.
  • A unit can last a semester or a year and additional credits should be awarded for programmes where the standard academic year is longer than 30 weeks.
  • Special or vacation credits may be awarded for work (e.g. field courses) outside the 30 week academic year.


  • The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) was revised in October 2014.
  • Levels 4 - 8 are defined by specific intended learning outcomes and standards.
  • In particular, level 6 should be clearly appropriate for Bachelor's degree with Honours and level 7 for a Master's degree, as described in the FHEQ.
  • Units in a Foundation Year are designated level 5.
    Each unit should have a unique code, a single set of assessments and the same credit rating for all students
  • There must be progression of level through a programme.
  • If the same material is used at more than one level (e.g. if units at different level share lectures) there should be distinct intended learning outcomes and separate assessments that reflect the different levels.
  • If a course unit of a higher level is taken within an earlier academic year (e.g. level 7 in Year 3), then staff must check that the students have the appropriate background to succeed

Undergraduate programmes

  • Units shall be 10 credits or integral multiples thereof
  • A minimum of 360 credits, with at least 90 at level 6, is required for a 3-year Honours degree (pro rata for longer)
  • A minimum of 300 credits, with at least 60 at level 6, is required for a 3-year Ordinary degree
  • Exit points of Certificate (120 credits) and Diploma (240 credits) will be available with suitable intended learning outcomes specified

Postgraduate taught programmes

  • Units shall be 15 credits or integral multiples thereof; (some University of Manchester Worldwide programmes are set up with units comprising 20 credits or multiples thereof)
  • A taught Master's programme shall normally comprise 180 credits, of which the dissertation shall comprise 60 - 120 credits 
  • Entry and exit points of Certificate (60 credits) and Diploma (120 credits) will be available

Integrated Masters

  • An Integrated Master's programme shall comprise 480 credits, with a minimum of 120 credits at level 7 
  • Integrated Master's programmes are comprised of 10 credit units in years 1 to 3, and 15 credit units in Year 4 only, as Year 4 is at level 7