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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

3.10 Framework for credit bearing short courses

This process is currently being reviewed by the Programme Development Group. In the interim, departments wishing to develop credit-bearing CPD should contact the Curriculum, Learning & Assessment Service in the first instance (Science/Arts & Humanities: Nic Brennan; Social Sciences/Business: Ellen Chapman).

Outline of the scheme

1. Departments may offer the opportunity for credit to be awarded for the completion of short courses (referred to hereafter as credit-bearing short courses). Students may undertake individual undergraduate or postgraduate modules or groups of modules for this purpose.

2. Departments may continue to offer outside this framework short courses that do not lead to the award of credit.

Validation of credit-bearing short courses

3. The University needs to be assured of the quality and standards of the provision offered as credit-bearing short courses. This means that:

a. Existing modules (already approved for degree programmes) or modules approved solely for the purposes of providing continuing professional development opportunities (i.e. modules that are not included in a full programme of study) may be offered as credit-bearing short courses following the approval of these modules through the University's curriculum development process. It will be a matter for the department offering the credit-bearing short course whether such modules shall be taught separately for short course students, or taught to short course and degree programme students together.

b. Modules offered for credit-bearing short courses must comply with standard University requirements and conventions in respect of learning outcomes, level of study, SLAT hours and assessment.

c. Credit may not be given for a module unless a student has passed the assessment for the module in the usual way.

d. If an existing module is used as the basis for credit-bearing short course provision but the mode of teaching, learning and/or assessment is changed the module must be validated as a new module with a different title.

4. In order to offer credit-bearing short courses a department will need to complete a brief form (available at 3.1) detailing the modules it proposes to offer; any resource implications arising from the proposal; and the fee it proposes to charge for the each module offered as a credit-bearing short course.

a. This form should initially be submitted to the Librarian and Director of ITS to consider whether there are any learning resources issues arising from the proposal.

b. It should then be submitted by the department, together with a copy of the written comments from the Library and Director of ITS, to the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor (via the relevant Assistant Registrar/Faculty Support Officer in the Academic Support Office) for consideration.

c. If approved, any proposed fee that is less than pro rata by credit value for a department's fee banding plus 10% will be forwarded to the Chair of the Fees Advisory Board for final approval. If the proposed fee meets or exceeds this level there is no need to seek the approval of Fees Adivsory Board.

d. Once finally approved, the Academic Support Office will inform Student Registry of this and Student Registry will make the necessary arrangements in Banner.

Recruitment, admission, registration and APL

Recruitment and admissions

5. Primary responsibility for publicising credit-bearing short courses rests with the department offering the course(s).

6. The department concerned is responsible for admission to the credit-bearing short course. The University's online postgraduate application form must be completed for all applicants to undertake a postgraduate credit-bearing short course; for applicants wishing to undertake an undergraduate credit-bearing short course the application process for part-time undergraduate students should be followed. The decision as to whether to admit an applicant rests solely with the department, although the formal offer letter shall be issued by the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office.

7. Entry requirements for credit-bearing short courses need not comply with standard University admission requirements for study, although where students on credit-bearing short courses are to be co-taught with students on degree programmes the department must satisfy itself that students in the former category are appropriately equipped to undertake the module(s) in question.

8. Students on credit-bearing short courses must on no account be given the impression that successful completion of the short course has any implications for admission to an award within the University's credit and qualifications framework. A standard wording clarifying this situation is available at 3.1, which should be used in publicising credit-bearing short courses.

9. Students admitted to undertake credit-bearing short courses shall not be matriculated students of the University, and have no rights to the use of University facilities other than those specifically provided in connection with the study of the module(s) for which they are registered.

10. A student may subsequently wish to use successful completion of a short course as evidence of ability when applying for a main award. This will be particularly helpful to students who otherwise have non-traditional qualifications but successful completion of a credit-bearing short course(s) confers no rights in terms of admission to a degree.


11. In order to ensure that accurate records are kept of students on credit-bearing short courses, and that these students are given access to appropriate learning resources, they will be expected to register with the University at the start of their period of study.

Access to learning resources for students on credit-bearing short courses

12. Students admitted to study on credit-bearing short courses will be given access to the learning resources (including library and IT resources) for the courses they are studying.

13. Where a short course is being offered to both those who intend to take the assessment with a view to being awarded credit for the short course, and those who are not intending to be assessed, students in the latter category can only be given access to learning resources if they have followed the admission and registration processes outlined in paragraphs 5 to 8 above (registering as students with 'no qualification aim). In these situations, if a student wishes to transfer between these two statuses they should follow the standard change of registration procedure.

14. Departments who wish to offer access to learning resources for students on non-credit-bearing short courses should contact the Head of the Academic Support Office in the first instance to discuss such proposals.

Accreditation of prior learning

15. A student who has successfully completed a credit-bearing short course may seek APL for comparable modules in a degree programme. Again, the credit-bearing short course confers no rights in this respect (although APL will in some cases be very straight-forward) and the usual APL procedure must be followed in full.

16. A 'sell-by-date' of a maximum of 5 years will apply to all modules delivered on short courses so that, to claim APL against a major award, a short course student must apply for, and intend to start, that award within five calendar years of successful completion of the short course. A department may set a shorter 'sell-by-date' to ensure the currency of its provision. In this case the timescale must be made clear to students in publicity.

Administration of credit-bearing short courses


17. Where credit-bearing short courses are not co-taught with students on degree programmes and the department wishes to deliver the teaching in centrally bookable rooms, the department will need to submit requests for such rooms to the timetabling team in Student Registry.

Boards of examiners

18. Marks for credit-bearing short courses must be considered and approved by a board of examiners. Departments may consider and approve these marks within their usual board of examiners cycle, or through a separate board of examiners convened to consider only marks for credit-bearing short courses. In the latter case, the usual University rules will apply in respect of:

a. quoracy;

b. anonymity in assessment and in discussion by the board of examiners;

c. involvement of external examiners for modules at Levels 2-4;

d. other procedures for the management of boards of examiners.

19. An external examiner must be involved in the board of examiners considering marks for students undertaking credit-bearing short courses. Departments should negotiate with one or more existing approved external examiner(s) to undertake the work. Any additional fee and expenses will be negotiated with the external examiner(s) and will be the responsibility of the department. If an existing external examiner is unable or unwilling to serve in this way a separate external examiner must be appointed. This will require the approval of the chair of the relevant Faculty Education Committee but the individual will not be included in the Academic Office lists of external examiners.

Monitoring and review

20. External examiners will not be required to issue a report on credit-bearing short courses provision because there is no validated award. However they will be asked to make an oral report at the meeting of the board of examiners which must be fully minuted. Comments and recommendations must be followed up by the department in the usual way but actions need not be reported to the chair of the relevant Faculty Education Committee.

21. Where a department is offering credit-bearing short courses, it will be expected that this provision is included within its processes for administering module evaluation questionnaires (where such modules are co-taught with students undertaking full programmes of study, the department will need to have a mechanism for disaggregating the returns for the two types of student) and its annual review of learning and teaching. The department annual review of learning and teaching submitted to the relevant Faculty Education Committee will be expected to included explicit reference to this consideration of credit-bearing short courses.

Transcripts and certificates

22. All students undertaking credit-bearing short courses shall be entitled to a transcript produced by Student Registry detailing the period of study, credit undertaken and awarded, and the mark achieved.