Criteria for the Award of Degrees, Diplomas and Certificates

  1. Descriptor for higher education qualifications at FHEQ/CQFW Level 4: CertHE/HNC

    Holders of a Certificate of Higher Education/Higher National Certificate will have a sound knowledge of the basic concepts of a subject, and will have learned how to take different approaches to solving problems. They will be able to communicate accurately and will have the qualities needed for employment requiring the exercise of some personal responsibility. The HNC will include vocational training.  Both the CertHE and HNC may be a first step towards obtaining higher level qualifications.

    Certificates of Higher Education/Higher National Certificates are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

    • knowledge of the underlying concepts and principles associated with their area(s) of study, and an ability to evaluate and interpret these within the context of that area of study
    • an ability to present, evaluate and interpret qualitative and/or quantitative data, in order to develop lines of argument and make sound judgements in accordance with basic theories and concepts of their subject(s) of study.

    Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

    • evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems related to their area(s) of study and/or work
    • communicate the results of their study/work accurately and reliably, and with structured and coherent arguments
    • undertake further training and develop new skills within a structured and managed environment.

    And holders will have:

    • the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of some personal responsibility
  2. Descriptor for higher education qualifications at FHEQ/CQFW Level 5: Foundation Degree/HND/DipHE

    Holders of qualifications at this level will have developed a sound understanding of the principles in their field of study, and will have learned to apply those principles more widely. Through this, they will have learned to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems. Their studies may well have had a vocational orientation, for example Foundation Degrees and HNDs, enabling them to perform effectively in their chosen field. Holders of qualifications at this level will have the qualities necessary for employment in situations requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making.

    Foundation Degrees/Higher National Diplomas and Diplomas of Higher Education are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

    • knowledge and critical understanding of the well-established principles of their area(s) of study, and of the way in which those principles have developed
    • ability to apply underlying concepts and principles outside the context in which they were first studied, including, where appropriate, the application of those principles in an employment context
    • knowledge of the main methods of enquiry in the subject(s) relevant to the named award, and ability to evaluate critically the appropriateness of different approaches to solving problems in the field of study
    • an understanding of the limits of their knowledge, and how this influences analyses and interpretations based on that knowledge.

    Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

    • use a range of established techniques to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information, and to propose solutions to problems arising from that analysis
    • effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms to specialist and non-specialist audiences, and deploy key techniques of the discipline effectively
    • undertake further training, develop existing skills and acquire new competences that will enable them to assume significant responsibility within organisations.

    And holders will have:

    • the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making.
  3. Descriptor for higher education qualifications FHEQ/CQFW at Level 6: Bachelor's degree with honours/Graduate Diplomas/Graduate Certificates

    Holders of a Bachelor's degree with honours/Graduate Diploma/Graduate Certificate will have developed an understanding of a complex body of knowledge, some of it at the current boundaries of an academic discipline. Through this, the holder will have developed analytical techniques and problem-solving skills that can be applied in many types of employment. The holder of such a qualification will be able to evaluate evidence, arguments and assumptions, to reach sound judgements and to communicate them effectively.

    Holders of an award at this level should have the qualities needed for employment in situations requiring the exercise of personal responsibility, and decision-making in complex and unpredictable circumstances.

    Awards at this level are made to students who have demonstrated:

    • a systematic understanding of key aspects of their field of study, including acquisition of coherent and detailed knowledge, at least some of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of defined aspects of a discipline
    • an ability to deploy accurately established techniques of analysis and enquiry within a discipline
    • conceptual understanding that enables the student:
      • to devise and sustain arguments, and/or to solve problems, using ideas and techniques, some of which are at the forefront of a discipline
      • to describe and comment upon particular aspects of current research, or equivalent advanced scholarship, in the discipline
    • an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge
    • the ability to manage their own learning, and to make use of scholarly reviews and primary sources (for example, refereed research articles and/or original materials appropriate to the discipline).

    Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

    • apply the methods and techniques that they have learned to review, consolidate, extend and apply their knowledge and understanding, and to initiate and carry out projects
    • critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data (that may be incomplete), to make judgements, and to frame appropriate questions to achieve a solution - or identify a range of solutions - to a problem
    • communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.

    And holders will have:

    • the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
      • the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
      • decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts
      • the learning ability needed to undertake appropriate further training of a professional or equivalent nature.
  4. Descriptor for higher education qualifications at FHEQ/CQFW Level 7: Taught Master's degree/Postgraduate Diploma/Postgraduate Certificate

    Much of the study undertaken at this level will have been at, or informed by, the forefront of an academic or professional discipline. Students will have shown originality in the application of knowledge, and they will understand how the boundaries of knowledge are advanced through research. They will be able to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, and they will show originality in tackling and solving problems. They will have the qualities needed for employment in circumstances requiring sound judgement, personal responsibility and initiative in complex and unpredictable professional environments.

    In many cases, Taught Master’s degrees provide a solid grounding for entry to research, for example via Research Training Master’s or MRes degrees.

    Awards at this level are made to students who have demonstrated:

     

    • a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice
    • a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship
    • originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline
    • conceptual understanding that enables the student:
      • to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline
      • to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

    Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

     

    • deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences
    • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level
    • continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.

    And holders will have:

    • the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring:
      • the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility
      • decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations
      • the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development
  5. Research Degrees

    1. Criteria for the award of the Degree of PhD (including practice-based PhD).

      Doctoral degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

      • the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline, and merit publication or production;
      • a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an academic discipline or area of professional practice;
      • the general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems;
      • a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry.

      Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

      • make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
      • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;
      • continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new knowledge, techniques, ideas or approaches.

      And holders will have completed research training that provides the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment, viz:

      • the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;
      • decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations in professional or equivalent environments;
      • the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

      In judging the merit of the work submitted in candidature for the degree of PhD, the examiners shall bear in mind the standard and scope of work which it is reasonable to expect a capable and diligent student to present after a period of two or three years (as appropriate) of full-time study, or its part-time equivalent.

      On completion of a Doctoral degree, graduates will have attained Level 8, as defined by the QAA’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (August 2008).

    2. Criteria for the award of PhD by Published Works

      The criteria for the award of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Published Works shall be the same as those established for the Degree of PhD.  Published works may be defined as works which are in the public domain or which have at least been accepted for publication (provided that the candidate can provide adequate proof that this is the case).  Works submitted for examination should not normally have been published more than ten years previous to the date of registration.

      On completion of a Doctoral degree, graduates will have attained Level 8, as defined by the QAA’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (August 2008).

    3. Criteria for the award of the Degree of MPhil and LLM by Research

      Research Master’s Degrees are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

      • a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the academic discipline, field of study or area of professional practice;
      • a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship;
      • originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline;
      • conceptual understanding that enables the student:
        • to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline;
        • to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

      Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

      • deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
      • demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;
      • continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.

      And holders will have completed research training that provides the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment, viz:

      • the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;
      • decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations;
      • the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

      On completion of an MPhil or LLM by Research, graduates will have attained Level 7, as defined by the QAA’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (August 2008).


      August 2009