In April 2021, Senate agreed key elements for our future Academic Framework for course design. These elements should be considered ‘core’ to course design as part of Curriculum Transformation, and for new UG courses from 2023/24 and new PGT courses from 2022/23.

This page provides an overview of some of the key elements of the Academic Framework as they relate course design. A full description of the key elements if available from Academic Registry's Academic Framework Guidance webpage.


Articulate a course-wide approach to learning

  • Identify what graduates should know and be able to do by the end of the course.
  • Determine learning outcomes and assessment.
  • Plan teaching and learning activities.
  • Think about how knowledge/skills will be reinforced and developed during the course.

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Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs)

There should be no more than 12 CILOs, plus an additional learning outcome for placement and study abroad variants. 

Units will need to be mapped to CILOs to indicate where these will be summatively assessed across the course. 

Consider unit size, workload and contribution to overall degree result.

Courses and credit

A total of 6ECTS credits at each level of study. 

Total notional hours: 1200 at each level (contact time + independent study).

Courses should normally contain a maximum of eight units of study in a course year.

Exit awards: 

Certificate in Higher Education – 60 ECTS credits.

Diploma in Higher Education – 120 ECTS credits.

Units and credit

All units must be at taught and assessed at the correct level (FHEQ levels 4-7).

There should be no optional units in the first year (FHEQ level 4).

There should be no shared teaching with postgraduate taught Masters. 

Standard credit size: 10 ECTS (200 hours).

Minimum credit size: 5 CATS (100 hours).

No maximum credit size.


There must be at least one summative assessment per unit. 

Consider the balance of assessment types and timings across the course. 

Reassessment must be specified in the unit descriptor. 

 The pass mark for FHEQ levels 4-6 units is 40%.

The pass mark for FHEQ level 7 units is 50%.


Course design may allow a proportion of unit credit that can be condoned.  

Course design may allow some unit failure in the final year.

Units (and their credit) may be designated essential to be passed before progression or award (DEUs).

Partial credit for units must not be given.

There must not be a block to progression within a course year.