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Guidelines for Modular Study (Credit Accumulation) - Postgraduate Taught students

These guidelines are intended for students who are studying on one or more individual taught modules. Students can decide that they wish to accumulate credit by taking individual modules with the aim of achieving a postgraduate award; this is called Modular study. There are opportunities to achieve postgraduate awards through credit accumulation study in an increasing number of departments at the University of Essex, as an alternative to standard full or part-time study.

Individual modules at the University can yield 15, 20, 30 or 40 credits depending upon which department you are studying in. Each award has a defined structure, normally consisting of a combination of core, compulsory and optional modules, and requires a specific volume of credit to be achieved:

  • Graduate/Postgraduate Certificates - 60 credits (all taught module credits)
  • Graduate/Postgraduate Diplomas - 120 credits (all taught module credits)
  • Masters Courses - 180 credits (normally 120 credits of taught module credits and a 60 credit dissertation or equivalent)

Core modules must be taken and passed (it is integral to the course and/or sole site of a learning outcome); Compulsory modules must be taken but failure could be condoned with a mark of 40 or more (within the limits of the Rules of Assessment); Optional modules allow students to choose from a defined list of modules and failure could be condoned with a mark of 40 or more (within the limits of the Rules of Assessment).

Credit is awarded for successful completion of individual modules. Students taking a credit-accumulation route of study register for the separate modules individually and accumulate the required volume of credit for the relevant award, including the dissertation if necessary.

There are module level rules of assessment which apply to individual modules when taken alone. Students who decide to study towards an award on a credit accumulation route should be aware that the Rules of Assessment for individual modules differ from the Rules of Assessment for awards (programmes of study), so you should consult the relevant Rules of Assessment for the award you intend to aim for. The pass mark for each module is the same irrespective of the mode of study.

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How long do I have to accumulate credit towards an award?

The Maximum period for completion of studies using credit accumulation is normally a period of six years (usually five years to complete all taught elements and a further one year to complete the dissertation or equivalent project). The maximum period of study is measured from the point at which you first registered for one of modules being used towards the award you were aiming for.

You will need to ensure that you have taken the required number of credits within the six year maximum period to enable you to use your accumulated credit toward the award. Your department will be able to offer you advice if you have any questions about how much more credit you must accumulate in order to apply for an award, and how long you have left until your maximum period expires.

Extensions to the six year maximum period are normally only permitted in cases where a student has experienced extenuating circumstances which have prevented them from completing within the maximum period.

What are the differences between the Rules of Assessment for modules and those for the award?

Although the University has a standard set of Rules of Assessment for taught postgraduate study, there are a number of departments which have had minor variations approved. Therefore, you should consult the relevant Rules of Assessment for the award you want to apply for. Rules of Assessment for postgraduate study can be viewed online at the following URL
http://www2.essex.ac.uk/academic/students/pgt/pgrules.htm

There are three key differences between module level Rules and award level Rules:

  • Award level Rules relate to the structure of the programme of study. Some programmes have a mixture of core, compulsory and/or optional modules and you will have to meet the relevant criteria in relation to the programme structure. For example, you must pass all of the core modules for the award you are aiming for.
     
  • Students taking a credit-accumulation route of study have one second attempt at assessment for each module taken. However, there are a limited number of reassessment opportunities at the level of the award and once you register on a programme of study, the Rules of Assessment for the programme of study apply. For example, the Rules of Assessment for most Masters Programmes permit up to only 40 taught module credits to be reassessed, and state that at least 60 taught module credits must have been achieved at the first attempt.
     
  • On some, but not all, programmes of study there is a limited amount of condoned failure permitted. For example, on many, but not all, Masters programmes, failure with a mark of 40-49 can be condoned provided the module is not core and that the overall aggregate is greater than 50. Failure cannot be condoned when studying on one or more individual modules; you either pass the module or fail. Students studying in the Department of Health and Human Sciences should note that many programmes do not allow condoned failure.

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If I decide to accumulate credit towards a Masters Degree, when do I start the dissertation?

Before making your decision to study for the award of a Masters course by Modular study, you should speak to a member of staff in your department to seek advice. You must have completed and passed at least 60 taught module credits, at the first attempt, before commencing on the dissertation element. You would normally expect to begin the dissertation element towards the end of the programme of study, after completing most or all of the taught modules.

You would have a maximum of twelve months to complete the dissertation element, although you may complete and submit your dissertation earlier.

How do I apply to accumulate credit towards an award?

You are not automatically given an award; rather, you must apply to register for an award and the relevant member of academic staff responsible for admissions in your department will consider your overall academic record and has to approve your eligibility to be admitted to study for an award. The department will consider whether the credit you have accumulated fits the programme structure of the award you are applying for and whether you are eligible to study for the award based upon the Rules of Assessment for the award; for example, have you, or could you still pass all of the core modules and at least 60 credits of taught modules at the first attempt?

If you do decide to apply to accumulate credit towards an award, you should speak to your tutors or a member of advising staff in your department to help you to consider which award you would like to aim for. Once you have decided to apply to accumulate credit an award you should request the relevant form from your department, which you should complete and submit to your departmental office for approval. Your department must also seek approval for your admission to the award from the Graduate Admissions Office.

Students on a modular programme of study will already be admitted to the award and will not have to reapply.

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What if I apply to accumulate credit towards an award and then change my mind about the award I want?

Once you have applied and been accepted to accumulate credit towards an award, your student record is changed to signify that you are now intending to complete the selected programme of study. However, you might decide that you want to change the award you are aiming for; for example, you may decide you want to study towards a Masters course instead of a Postgraduate Diploma course, or that you want to study towards a different Masters course than you had applied for. This is generally not a problem, but you should notify your department immediately so that your record can be amended, and you can apply for the award you now wish to aim for.

What are the fees for Modular Study?

The fees for postgraduate programmes vary according to the department involved. You will not be charged any extra for the award by studying by credit accumulation. The price of the individual modules you have been studying is based on a formula which means the total of all of the individual taught modules for the award, plus the cost of the dissertation element, adds up to the total cost of the award as charged for standard full time study.

If you have already completed 60 credits of taught modules and paid the required fees for those modules, you can continue to pay for each module you take on the programme.

modular study, where available, can only apply to Home and EU students. It is not normally possible for overseas students to study less than full-time owing to the conditions of their visas. However, if you have the necessary entry clearance permissions to do so, then fees will be made available on request.

For further advice about the opportunity to undertake Modular study towards a postgraduate award, please speak to a member of staff in your Department.

Modular Study - University Policy

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