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Glossary of academic terms

Academic award

The title of the qualification conferred upon 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 an award.

Award map

The definitive statement of the modules which make up a given award for which a student is registered. It specifies the modules which are compulsory, designated or electives for a single, major, minor or joint award subject.


A means of distinguishing between the differences in achievement by individual students of the intended learning outcomes of a programme.

Compulsory modules

Modules which a student must be credited with in order to qualify for a specific award.

Co-requisite modules

Modules on which a student can enrol only if he or she simultaneously enrols for one or more other specified related module.


A numerical value assigned to each module as a measure of its size, the amount of learning required to complete the module successfully.


The head of a faculty.

Defer grade

A student is permitted to take assessment item(s) at a later opportunity, usually as a result of the decision of the Mitigating Circumstances Panel.

Designated modules

Modules specified as acceptable for meeting the requirements of a specific award.


A defined grouping of cognate academic departments and divisions established to lead, organise and oversee teaching, research and engagement with external stakeholders.


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

Item of assessment

The individual assessment tasks which, when aggregated, constitute assessment for a module for example an essay, project, assignment or examination.

Joint honours

An award consisting of two specified subjects in either a major, minor or joint combination.


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.

Major subject

A defined group of at least nine standard modules or equivalent, including 40 credits at level four, 60 credits at level five and 80 credits at level six.

Minor subject

A defined group of at least six standard modules or equivalent, including 40 credits at each of levels four, five and six.

Mitigating circumstances

Claims by students, approved by the University, for deferral of assessment for exceptional consideration in the submission of assessments on the grounds of unexpected and unplanned circumstances.


A discrete block of study leading to specified learning outcomes which are assessed. Modules are allocated credit points based on the notional amount of student learning time.


A programme may contain a pathway that usually comprises a defined sub-set of the full programme diet and may lead to an award in its own right.


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

An approved set of modules taken by an individual student leading to an approved award. Modules may be drawn from one or more fields.

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 has a ‘P’ suffix and for which special regulations apply (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 is permitted to retake an assessment item(s), without attendance at classes, as a second attempt following initial failure.


Regulations denote the governance of the University of Northampton’s academic provision, as approved by Senate.


To take an examination or assessment again when a student did not achieve the desired result 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 point in a programme of study at which progression is considered or an award is conferred. This will vary depending upon the student’s mode of study.


A validated grouping of modules from which a single, major, joint or minor programme of study may be composed.


Students who are studying programmes at level six or below.


The process of peer group review, external to the programme team and often including representatives of the wider academic or professional communities.

Vice Chancellor

The Chief Executive and Chief Accounting Officer of the University and Chair of the Senate.


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