We've introduced a new AI-powered search function on our website. We hope you find it useful. The system will learn as website visitors add searches... so please give it a try.

Glossary of academic terms

Academic award

The title of the qualification awarded to a student who has successfully completed a programme of study.

Associate student

Any student who is currently registered for one or more modules but is not currently registered for a full award such as a degree.

Award map

The statement of modules which make up an award. It specifies the modules which are compulsory and designated for all programmes of study at each academic level; and lists any prerequisite or co-requisite requirements. You can view our award maps online.


How achievement in a programme of study is awarded to students, e.g. 1st, 2:1, 2:2, 3rd.

Compulsory modules

Modules which a student must complete in order to qualify for their award.

Co-requisite modules

Modules on which a student can only enrol if they are also enrolled for one or more of a specified related module(s) simultaneously.


The numerical value assigned to each module, in order to measure the level of learning/assignment required in order to complete it. This could be as little as 10 credits or as many as 80 credits.


The head of a faculty.

Defer grade

A student is permitted to take assessment item(s)/submit an assignment(s) at a later opportunity, usually as a result of a successful Mitigating Circumstances application.

Designated modules

Modules that are not compulsory, but students choose from a number of these in order to complete their award.


A group of academic departments within the university that oversee teaching, research and other engagement external to the university, e.g: Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology; Faculty of Health, Education and Society; and Faculty of Business and Law.


A collection of modules which are associated in terms of subjects or disciplines.

Item of assessment

The individual tasks that students need to complete in order to be assessed for a module. E.g.: essays, projects, assignments or examinations.


This defines the relative academic demands of a module in terms of the learning and assessment. The levels for undergraduate awards are four, five, six, seven and eight for postgraduate. For reference, A Levels/BTECs are level three qualifications.

Mitigating circumstances

When a student has experienced unexpected and unplanned circumstances, they can make a claim for mitigating circumstances. If approved by the University, this allows for exceptional consideration in the submission of assessments, or the deferral of assessments.


A block of study in which students complete a specified learning programme and assessments. Modules have credits attached to them based on the amount of learning time they include.


A programme may contain a pathway that usually comprises a defined sub-set of the full programme and may lead to an award in its own right. E.g. Fashion (Textiles for Fashion) BA Hons is a pathway as students take compulsory Textiles modules each year.


Student’s who are studying programmes at Level 7/Masters level.

Pre-requisite modules

Modules which a student must be credited with before proceeding to another specified module.

Programme of study

The approved set of modules that students take in order to complete an award. These modules could be drawn from one or more fields, e.g. Environmental Science BSc (Hons) students study modules from Geography and Law as well as Environment Science.

Programme handbook

The document, provided to students in paper or electronic form, describing significant elements of their programme, including syllabi, assessment arrangements, academic staff and students’ obligations.

Professional practice modules

A module whose code ends with a ‘P’, has special regulations. The ‘P’ usually denotes a practical element or work placement. This is usually for professional courses such as Nursing or Primary Education. (see CAF Regulation 6.4).

Programme specification

The description of a programme of study, approved at validation, which forms the University’s record of the programme.

Refer grade

A student may be permitted to retake an assessment item(s), as a second attempt following initial failure.


Regulations lay out the governance of our academic offering. Regulations are approved by the Senate.


To take an examination or assessment again when a student did not pass on a previous occasion.

Restricted modules

Modules which can only be taken by students on specific awards.


The most senior academic committee of the University of Northampton.


The points of an academic programme when progression is possible, or an award is given when completed. This varies depending on the mode of study; e.g. in a full-time bachelor’s degree, Year 1 is stage 1, Year 2 is stage 2, and Year 3 is stage 3.


A group of modules from which any programme of study can be composed. For example, our Journalism, Media and Performance subject includes multiple programmes of study.


Students who are studying programmes at level six or below. Usually, students who have never studied in Higher Education before will be undergraduates.


In order to create a new programme of study or make any changes to an existing programme, they must go through this process of peer group review. This review is external to the programme team and includes representatives of the wider academic/professional community.

Vice Chancellor

The Chief Executive and Chief Accounting Officer of the University and Chair of the Senate; in charge of day-to-day running of the university.

Our Campus