A1.1.7 Standards and definitions of the University's awards

  • i.    Admissions standards

    Applicants must show that they are able to benefit from a programme of study leading to a University award, by demonstrating that they possess the appropriate knowledge and skills to enter the programme.  Entry requirements for different programmes vary, according to the academic and, in many cases, professional demands placed on students, and they are stated in the approved Programme Specification for each programme of study.

    Refer also to the regulations on the admission of students in Section A2 and Section E1 (PDF).

    ii.    Award standards

    Descriptions of the academic awards offered by the University are given below.  Minimum credit and level requirements for each award can be found in the regulations on the University’s credit framework (A1.2).

    University Certificate
    The University Certificate is defined as a level 4 qualification, comprising a total of 60 credits.  The normal duration of study is one year full-time or two years part-time.

    University Diploma
    The University Diploma is defined as a level 5 qualification consisting of a total of 60 credits.  The normal duration of study is one year full-time or two years part-time.

    Advanced Diploma
    The Advanced Diploma is a level 6 qualification comprising a total of 60 credits.
    The normal length of the programme is two years of part-time study.

    Certificate of Higher Education
    The Certificate of Higher Education is a level 4 qualification, consisting of a total of 120 credits. It is an award in its own right, but is generally available as an exit award from Foundation and Bachelors degree programmes.  The normal length of a programme of study leading to the award of a Certificate of Higher Education is one year of full-time study, or equivalent.

    Diploma of Higher Education
    The Diploma of Higher Education is a level 5 qualification. It is normally designed to progress from level 4 to level 5, accruing 120 credits at each level to an overall minimum total of 240 credits.  The Certificate of Higher Education is available as an exit award on achievement of the general credit requirements at level 4; and the Diploma of Higher Education is itself available as an exit award from Foundation and Bachelors degree programmes.  The normal length of a programme of study leading to the award of a Diploma of Higher Education is two years of full-time study, or equivalent.

    Foundation Degree [FdA, FdSc, FdEng]
    The Foundation Degree is a level 5 qualification which conforms to the foundation degree characteristics published by the Quality Assurance Agency for HE. Foundation degree programmes are normally designed to progress from level 4 to level 5, accruing 120 credits at each level to an overall minimum total of 240 credits. The normal duration of study is two years full-time, or three years part-time. To qualify for the award in either mode of study the student must fulfil the award requirements within a maximum of six years from initial registration. Foundation degrees normally include a major element of work-based learning within a specified sector; and they are discrete awards that, on completion, may permit entry into level 6 of a specified Bachelors degree programme.  

    Foundation degree qualifications may be designated as:

    • Foundation Degree in Arts (FdA) - traditionally used in art and design, the arts and humanities, combined studies in the arts and social studies, and in areas of social or business studies where it is appropriate.
    • Foundation Degree in Science (FdSc) - traditionally used where studies are substantially based on technology, science or mathematics and their applications.
    • Foundation Degree in Engineering (FdEng) - reserved for programmes that provide a technologically broad education with an emphasis on engineering applications, primarily those courses that lead to registration with the relevant professional body.

    The Certificate of Higher Education is available as an exit award on achievement of the general credit requirements at level 4.

    Diploma in Advanced Study
    The Diploma in Advanced Study is a one year programme of study within the Undergraduate Modular Programme, consisting of 120 credits, of which at least 90 credits must be at level 5 or 6.  This qualification is usually awarded to overseas students who successfully complete one year’s full-time study at Oxford Brookes through the Study Abroad or Exchange programmes.

    Bachelors Degree with Honours
    The Bachelors degree with Honours is a level 6 qualification.  These programmes are normally designed to progress from level 4 to level 6, accruing 120 credits at each level, to an overall minimum total of 360 credits.  Exit awards of Certificate of Higher Education and Diploma of Higher Education are available on achievement of the general credit requirements at levels 4 and 5 respectively.  The normal duration of a programme leading to the award of a Bachelors Degree with Honours is three years full-time study, or equivalent. 

    A mandatory or optional work placement may be included as part of, or in addition to, the three stages of study. 

    Bachelors degree programmes (with or without Honours) will lead to the award of a BA or BSc, or to a more closely defined award restricted to certain subjects and types of programmes, as follows:

    • Bachelor of Arts (BA) is traditionally used in art and design, the arts and humanities, combined studies in the arts and social studies, and in areas of social or business studies where it is appropriate.
    • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) is reserved for programmes which provide a broad education in business and management, and whose graduates will be living and working in countries where BBA is the usual designation of a business and management award.
    • Bachelor of Science (BSc) is traditionally used where studies are substantially based on technology, science or mathematics and their applications.
    • Bachelor of Education (BEd) is reserved for programmes leading to Qualified Teacher Status.  Programmes will include a substantial element of teaching practice and normally take four years of full-time study, or equivalent, to complete.
    • Bachelor of Laws (LLB) is reserved for courses of specialised study in law.  Programmes of study in which legal and other studies are combined will lead to the award of BA or, where appropriate, BSc.
    • Bachelor of Laws (Legal Practice) (LLB-LP) is reserved for a programme which comprises the Graduate Diploma of Law (GDL) and the Legal Practice Course (LPC). The LLB-LP is defined as an undergraduate level qualification.  However, the minimum combined overall credits are 180 level 6 credits in fulfilment of the Graduate Diploma of Law and 180 level 7 credits in fulfilment of the Legal Practice Course. The normal duration of study is 2 years full time or four years part time.
    • Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) is reserved for programmes that provide a technologically broad education with an emphasis on engineering applications, primarily those courses that lead to registration with the relevant professional body.
    • Bachelor of Osteopathy (BOst) is reserved for programmes of study in Osteopathy which are recognised by the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) as meeting the requirements of the GoSC Standard of Proficiency (Standard 2000) and Code of Practice (2005), and the Osteopathy subject benchmark statement (QAA, 2007). Successful completion of the award leads to registration with the GOsC.

    Bachelors Degrees
    The Bachelors Degree without Honours is a level 6 qualification.  These programmes are normally designed to progress from level 4 to level 6, accruing 120 credits at levels 4 and 5, and 60 credits at level 6, to an overall minimum total of 300 credits.  Exit awards of Certificate of Higher Education and Diploma of Higher Education are available on achievement of the general credit requirements at levels 4 and 5 respectively.  A mandatory or optional work placement may be included as part of, or in addition to, the three stages of study. 

    Integrated Masters Degrees (MBiol, MEng, MOst, MMath, MPlan, MPsych, MSci)
    Integrated Masters degree programmes are level 7 qualifications, in which study at Bachelors level is integrated with study at Masters level. They are normally designed to progress from level 4 to level 7, accruing 120 credits at each level, to an overall minimum total of 480 credits. Exit awards of Certificate of Higher Education, Diploma of Higher Education and Bachelors Degree (with or without Honours) are available on achievement of the general credit requirements at levels 4, 5 and 6 respectively. The normal duration of study is four years full-time. Successful completion may lead to recognition by a relevant professional body.

    • The award of Master of Biology (MBiol) is reserved for programmes of study in Biology, Biological Sciences, Biosciences which extend beyond the level and length of programmes leading to the Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours.
    • The award of Master of Engineering (MEng) is reserved for programmes of study in engineering which extend beyond the level and length of programmes leading to the Bachelor of Engineering Degree with Honours.
    • The award of Master of Osteopathy (MOst) is reserved for programmes of study in Osteopathy which extend beyond the level and length of the programmes leading to the Bachelor of Osteopathy Degree with Honours.
    • The award of Master of Mathematics (MMath) is reserved for programmes of study in Mathematics which extend beyond the level and length of the programmes leading to the Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours.
    • The award of Master of Planning (MPlan) is reserved for courses of specialised study in planning.
    • The award of Master of Psychology (MPsych) is reserved for programmes of study in Psychology which extend beyond the level and length of the programmes leading to the Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours.
    • The award of Master of Science (MSci) is reserved for programmes of study in Science subjects which extend beyond the level and length of programmes leading to the Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours.

    Graduate Certificate
    The standard of the Graduate Certificate is that expected of a student with prior knowledge and skills equivalent to a first degree who has successfully completed a programme of study at level 6 suitable to the fulfilment of the University's general educational aims. The normal length of the programme will be one year. The minimum overall credits are 40 at level 6 – however, since the standard credit volume of modules at level six is 15 credits, the minimum credit requirement in practice will be 45 credits.

    Graduate Diploma
    The standard of the Graduate Diploma is that expected of a student with prior knowledge and skills equivalent to a first degree who has successfully completed a programme of study at level 6 suitable to the fulfilment of the University's general educational needs. The normal length of the programme will be one year of full time study or equivalent. The minimum overall credits are 80 at level 6 – however, since the standard credit volume of modules at level six is 15 credits, the minimum credit requirement in practice will be 90 credits. 

    Postgraduate Certificate
    The Postgraduate Certificate is a level 7 qualification consisting of a total of 60 credits.  The Postgraduate Certificate is an award in its own right, and is also available as an exit award from Postgraduate Diploma and Masters programmes on achievement of the credit requirements.   The duration and mode of study may vary and will be stated in the Programme Specification.

    PGCE
    The PGCE is a recognised qualification undertaken by graduates in order to prepare them for a career in teaching.  It combines professional training, leading to Qualified Teacher Status, with a course of academic study leading to an academic qualification.  The normal duration of study is one year, full-time.  The PGCE may be awarded at either level 6 or level 7, and the University offers PGCE qualifications at both levels, as follows:

    • Professional Graduate Certificate in Education
      The Professional Graduate Certificate in Education is defined as a level 6 qualification, consisting of at least 60* credits, of which a minimum of 40 credits must be at level 6.  
    • Postgraduate Certificate in Education
      The Postgraduate Certificate in Education is defined as a level 7 qualification, consisting of at least 60* credits, of which a minimum of 40 credits must be at level 7.

    *  The minimum credit volumes stated above apply to programmes of study leading to an academic award, where the professional training leading to a recommendation for the award of QTS is delivered separately.  PGCE programmes in which the professional training is integrated with the theory across the modules making up the award, and is therefore also assessed for academic credit, will exceed the minimum credit volumes stated.  

    Postgraduate Diploma
    The Postgraduate Diploma is defined as a level 7 qualification, consisting of an overall total of 120 credits.  Exit awards of the Postgraduate Certificate are available on achievement of the credit requirements; and the Postgraduate Diploma is itself available as an exit award from Masters Degree programmes.  The duration and mode of study may vary and will be stated in the Programme Specification.

    The award of DipRes is reserved for courses which provide a substantial element of postgraduate training in methods and practice of research and appropriate transferable skills not normally offered within standard taught postgraduate diploma courses.

    Masters Degrees
    Masters degrees are level 7 qualifications, normally consisting of 180 credits and studied over one year full-time, or equivalent.  However, credit requirements (see A1.2.3 in Credit Framework section of the Regulations), duration and mode of study may vary, and are stated in the approved Programme Specifications for individual awards.  In addition to the UK Quality Code for HE, the QAA publication ‘Masters degree characteristics’ (March 2010) is a key reference point for the design of Masters degrees. 

    Masters degree programmes will lead to the award of a MA or MSc, or to a more closely defined award restricted to certain subjects and types of programmes, as follows:

    Master of Arts and Master of Science

    • The title Master of Arts (MA) is generally used in art and design, the arts and humanities and in other areas of study where a more specialised title is not appropriate.
    • The title Master of Science (MSc) is generally used where studies are substantially based on science or mathematics and their applications. Programmes of study leading to the MA or MSc will normally have a title which gives a more specific indication of the subject/s studied.

    Master of Business Administration
    The title MBA is reserved for programmes of study which focus on the general principles and functions of management and the development of management skills. Students entering MBA programmes must have appropriate practical experience and should normally be at least 23 years old on admission.

    Master of Fine Arts
    The title of MFA is reserved for master’s degrees with specialist study in practice and aesthetics of the visual arts.

    Master of Laws
    The title LLM is reserved for courses of specialised study in law.  Programmes in which legal and other studies are combined will lead to the MA or, where appropriate, MSc.

    Master of Research
    The title MRes is reserved for courses which provide a substantial element of postgraduate training in methods and practice of research and appropriate transferable skills not normally offered within standard taught Masters courses.

    European Master
    The EM is a two year (full-time) programme of study. The minimum overall credits required are 240 across level 7, equating to 120 European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) points.  Undergraduate level credit may not contribute to the European Master award.

    Master of Architecture/Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture
    The title MArch is reserved for specialist design-based programmes of study in Architecture, for graduates holding a recognised degree in Architecture who have completed their professional education, or those with a degree in a related discipline who do not wish to seek professional recognition.  The normal length of the programme is two years of full-time study or equivalent.  The Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture (PGDipArch) is available as an exit award from the MArch.  The Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture is awarded on completion of all elements of the MArch except the research methods and dissertation modules.

    Master of Architectural Design [introduced in 2011-12]
    The Master of Architectural Design (MArchD) provides holders of a RIBA/ARB Part 1 validated Honours degree with a postgraduate study route through which to gain exemption from the RIBA/ARB Part 2 examination.  The MArchD is a two year, full-time programme of study consisting of 240 credits at level 7, and the award is reserved for programmes of study focusing on specialist design aspects of the discipline through the inclusion of two substantive projects totalling 160 credits.

    Research and Higher awards

    Master of Philosophy 
    The standard of the MPhil is that expected of a graduate with good Honours who has satisfactorily completed a research training and has investigated and evaluated or critically studied an appropriate topic over not less than eighteen months of full-time study and has presented a satisfactory thesis.

    Doctor of Philosophy
    The standard of the PhD is that expected of a graduate with good Honours who has satisfactorily completed a research training and has investigated and evaluated or critically studied an appropriate topic over not less than thirty-three months of full-time study resulting in a significant contribution to knowledge, and has presented a satisfactory thesis.

    Professional Doctorates (eg EdD, DCAM)
    The standard of the Professional Doctorate is that expected of a graduate with Honours who has satisfactorily completed an approved programme of study, comprising both taught and research components, the results of which are judged to constitute an original contribution to learning and/or the development of professional practice and to give evidence of systematic study and ability to relate the results of such study to the general body of knowledge in the subject and/or professional practice. The minimum period of study shall normally be three years of full-time study or the equivalent. The title of a Professional Doctorate shall be 'Doctor in [subject area] and shall normally be abbreviated to 'D' followed or preceded by an approved abbreviation of the appropriate subject area.

    Professional Doctorates, along with PhDs, are defined as level 8 qualifications, but may contain a significant percentage of credit at level 7.  The minimum overall credits are 540 across levels 6,7 and 8 with a minimum of 360 credits at level 8 and a maximum of 30 credits at level 6.

    Higher doctorates (Doctor of Letters, Doctor of Science, Doctor of Technology)
    The standard of the award of DLitt, DSc or DTech is that expected of an applicant who is a holder of at least seven years' standing of a first degree or a holder of at least four years' standing of a higher degree, who is a leading authority in the field of study concerned and has made an original and significant contribution to the advancement or application of knowledge in that field.  The University's arrangements for the award of higher doctorates are detailed in section B8 of the Specific Regulations.