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
- Graduate/Postgraduate Diplomas - 120 credits (all taught
- 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.
[top of page]
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
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
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
- 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
- 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.
[top of page]
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
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.
[top of page]
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.
Study - University Policy
[top of page]