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Taster Modules

Durham permits individuals to undertake one 10 or 20 credit Common Awards module (known as a ‘taster module’) without being formally registered on a Common Awards programme. These are usually modules that TEIs are already delivering; this is important when considering the options available should a student wish to register on a Common Awards programme in the future.  

TEIs can use this option to give students a ‘taster’ of Common Awards study without having to commit to full registration on a programme (and any associated fees). TEIs do not have to pay the per capita validation fee to Durham for students who are completing taster modules.  

Taster modules are a useful option for students who are unsure of whether they want to register on a formal academic programme, and provides an opportunity for students and TEIs to assess whether the student is capable of studying on a higher education programme; some TEIs may require students to take a taster module if the individual does not meet the TEI’s entry requirements for a Common Awards programme.  

If the student does not complete the taster module, or they do complete the module but choose not to continue to a Common Awards programme, then the TEI does not need to take any further action and does not need to inform the University of the student. 

Durham does not specify how TEIs operate their taster modules; student could undertake the module as if they were studying the module for credit, or TEIs may choose to offer the module as if a student was auditing – it very much depends on the circumstances. However, ithe student does wish to register on a Common Awards programme, the options available for formally recognising the taster module depend on how it was offered.   

a) Students could be awarded the credit for the module  

If the student undertook the same assessments as other students studying on the Common Awards module (i.e those studying the module for credit and as outlined in the TEIs Module Overview Table), it may be possible for the module mark to be taken forward as credit. In order for this to be the case, the student’s assessed work would need to be subject to the TEI's normal quality assurances procedures (such as marking, double marking, moderation, external examining, and the mark confirmed at the TEI’s Board of Examiners).  

This option is only possible if TEIs have organised the taster module in such a way that, in effect, there is no material difference for this student to one who was formally registered on the module. 

It is conceivable that the student may complete the same assessment as those formally registered on the module but that the assessed work is not subject to the full quality assurance arrangements at the TEI (e.g. double marking, moderation, externally examined and the mark confirmed at the Board of Examiners) – nor would we require that it is. This may be a deliberate decision taken by a TEI or it may be that the student’s decision to formally register on a Common Awards programme was following the completion of the TEI’s full quality assurance arrangements.  

TEIs would need to confirm with the student that they would be content for the module mark to formally contribute to the credits achieved for their intended programme of study.   

TEIs would need to formally register the student on the Common Awards programme, the module studied, and return the confirmed module mark to Durham following the TEI’s Board of Examiners. For more details on these processes, including deadlines, see our Common Awards Calendar, our Programme and Module Registration pages and our guidance for TEI Boards of Examiners 

b) Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning   

Where a student has taken a taster module but does not make the decision to register for a Common Awards programme until after the completion of the TEIs quality assurance arrangements (as above), then he or she will need to make an Accreditation of Prior Learning application (APL). This will need to be an APEL (rather than APCL) application to have that learning recognised in their programme. Those non-accredited modules will not have been formally considered through Common Awards assessment processes (e.g. moderation, double-marking), nor will they have been to TEI Board of Examiners that normally confirm students’ achievement of the relevant learning outcomes, nor will they have been reviewed by external examiners. The APEL process provides a substitute for this, and when assessing such APEL applications TEIs therefore need to provide a broadly equivalent form of scrutiny to that provided by TEI Board of Examiners. See our Accreditation of Prior Learning pages for full details on the APL process.  

TEIs would need to formally register the student on the Common Awards programme and register the APEL credit with Durham. For more details on these processes, including deadlines, see our Common Awards Calendar and our Programme and APL Registration pages