SECTION Q1: CREDIT ACCUMMULATION AND TRANSFER
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
Relevant documentation: General Regulations
1. Underlying principles
Credit accumulation and transfer is intended to:-
(a) enable individuals’ learning to be recognised and quantified in a consistent manner,
whenever it occurs and however expressed;
(b) enable individuals, public bodies, employers and others to assess the value of
modules/units in terms of size and level;
(c) facilitate the transfer of credit in a consistent manner between different learning
contexts and within and across different award frameworks; and
(d) promote a consistent approach to credit rating.
2. Outline of the QUB scheme
2.1 Queen’s operates a CATS scheme under which each undergraduate module or other
course unit is assigned a level (0 to 4) and a number of credit points reflecting the
value of the module or unit.
2.2 The scheme is based on 120 points for each academic year of full-time undergraduate
study. A standard module (ie one sixth of a stage) is rated at 20 credit points. Other
module values or units are rated pro-rata (eg 40 credit points for a double module).
2.3 The scale used by Queen’s is widely accepted in universities throughout the United
Kingdom and is intended to facilitate transfer between institutions. It is also
compatible with the European Community Course Credit Transfer Scheme (ECTS)
(see paragraph 3 below).
The University’s procedures for CATS are set out in full in Q2.
3. European Community Course Credit Transfer Scheme (ECTS)
3.1 The University’s credit transfer scheme is fully compatible with ECTS.
3.2 ECTS uses a scale of 60 credit points for each academic year of study: the Queen’s
scale has 120 credit points per year. Queen’s CATS points are converted to ECTS
points by dividing the Queen’s points by 2. ECTS points are converted to Queen’s
points by multiplying the ECTS points by 2.
3.3 The University uses ECTS in connection with the EC SOCRATES-ERASMUS
Programme for QUB students studying in Europe and for students from other
European institutions studying at Queen’s. Home and host institutions prepare and
exchange transcripts of records for each student participating in ECTS before and
after the period of study abroad. The International Office can provide more
information about SOCRATES-ERASMUS.
SECTION Q2: QUB CREDIT ACCUMULATION & TRANSFER SCHEME
1.1 Each course unit that can contribute to a Queen’s degree is assigned to a level in a
hierarchy of levels. The Courses & Regulations Sub-Committee (see Section C) is
responsible for approving the levels to which course units are assigned.
1.2 The level of a module or other course unit reflects the academic demands of the unit,
and not necessarily the time at which the unit is taken within the programme.
1.3 In undergraduate programmes, the levels available are 0 to 4. Three-year full-time
undergraduate degree programmes are normally made up of modules at levels 1, 2
and 3. Some four-year programmes include courses at Level 0, normally for students
who have not achieved the necessary qualifications for direct entry to Level 1. Level
4 relates to modules taken as part of an undergraduate programme leading to a
1.4 Access courses and some courses in the Institute of Lifelong Learning are normally
assigned to Level 0.
1.5 Appropriate postgraduate courses are designated Level M. However, some
postgraduate and postexperience courses are assigned to an undergraduate level
rather than to Level M.
1.6 If a programme includes a placement for language acquisition or work experience
which does not relate to one of the normal levels the credits awarded are designated
2. Credit points
2.1 Each module or course unit will be assigned a credit value. This reflects the size of
the unit and the notional learning time – including lectures, practicals and tutorials,
private study, course assignments and examinations - required to complete it.
2.2 The proportion of learning time which is contact time varies widely depending on the
nature of the subject and the methods of teaching used. Contact time will generally
be a larger proportion of learning time in subjects with a significant practical
component. In courses designed for distance learning, contact time will form a very
small proportion of learning time.
2.3 The standard undergraduate degree programme is made up of 18 modules. Each
such module represents one-sixth of a stage, has a value of 1.0 and is worth 20 credit
points. This relates to 200 hours of notional study time. Other module values are
rated pro-rata: some examples are:
Value Hours study time Credit points
0.5 Half module 100 10
2 Double module 400 40
1.5 300 30
2.4 To qualify for an honours degree, based on a 3-year full-time programme of study, a
student will normally require 360 credit points. Normally, 120 of these points should
be at each of levels 1, 2 and 3. Undergraduate programmes lasting more than 3
years full-time require 120 additional points for each year of study.
2.5 An ordinary degree may be awarded on the basis of 300 credit points, including a
minimum of 180 points above level 1.
2.6 Postgraduate modules are normally valued as 10, 20, 30 or 40 CATS points as
appropriate, depending on the study time involved. The normal length of a written
Master’s dissertation is 15,000 – 20,000 words, worth 60 CATS. The normal length
of a written Diploma project is 10,000 – 12,500 words, worth 40 CATS. The normal
CATS points value for independent work in postgraduate degrees should be
consistent with each qualification level, i.e. 40 CATS for a Diploma project, 60 CATS
for a Master’s dissertation.
2.7 The credit requirements for taught postgraduate awards are as follows:-
Master’s degree 180 points at Level M
Postgraduate Diploma 120 points at Level M
Postgraduate Certificate 60 points at Level M
Postgraduate research programmes are not currently credit-rated.
2.8 There is no gradation of credit points for different levels of performance. A student
who completes a module successfully at the minimum level is awarded the same
number of credit points as the student who obtains the top marks for the module.
The student’s mark or grade will reflect his or her level of performance, and this will
normally be stated in the student transcript.
3. General and specific credit
3.1 General credit describes credits recognised by an institution in relation to specified
learning outcomes or achievement at a specific level, independent of a particular
academic award. Such credit points will form part of the student’s record and will be
listed on the student’s transcript.
3.2 Specific credit means credit points which count towards a particular qualification. For
the purposes of inter-institutional credit transfer, specific credit will normally be
granted only for course units which are judged to correspond in level and content to
the pathway or programme requirements of the course which the student wishes to
enter. Where course units are judged not to equate to pathway requirements no
specific credit may be awarded or the number of credit points awarded may be
3.3 To qualify for the award of a primary degree, a student must satisfy the general
regulations for primary degrees1, and must obtain any specific credit required for the
4. Transfer of credit from other institutions
4.1 The maximum credit that can be transferred for undergraduate courses taken at
another institution is 240 points ie the equivalent of 12 modules or two years of full-
time study. This is subject to the agreement of the Faculty concerned. The modules
must not have contributed to another degree or other qualification already awarded.
4.2 The minimum credit which can be transferred is 10 points ie a half module or its
4.3 For postgraduate courses, the maximum credit that can be transferred is one-third of
the total credit required for the course which the student wishes to enter ie
20 points towards a postgraduate certificate
40 points towards a postgraduate diploma
60 points towards a master’s degree
4.4 The Faculty concerned will take the decision about the granting of credit, normally on
the recommendation of the admissions tutor or selector. The Faculty must report
details of the award of credit to the Student Records Office.
4.5 Any credit awarded for courses undertaken elsewhere will be clearly identified on the
5. Time limits
The general limit for the validity of credit is 10 years. Individual subjects may set specific
limits, and these will be found in the faculty section of Book I of the Calendar.
6.1 Applicants seeking credit for courses or course units taken at other institutions are
required to pay a fee. This fee is payable on application and is not refundable in the
event that no credit is awarded. The Student Records Office can provide details of
the current fee structure on request.
6.2 No fee is charged where the application is for specific credit for courses or course
units taken at or validated by Queen’s, where a student is changing courses within the
University or returning to study after an interval, for example.