Definition of University terms


Academic Council

The Governance committee responsible for the academic work of the University, both teaching and research, and for the regulation of education, discipline and welfare of students. Academic Council is formally responsible for the awarding of degrees.

Academic Misconduct

Any case of deliberate, premeditated cheating, collusion, plagiarism or falsification of information, in an attempt to deceive and gain an unfair advantage in assessment.

Academic Year

The academic year runs from 1st August to 31st July. Teaching generally runs from mid-September to the end of May. See: Semester dates.


The formal process of getting programmes approved by external bodies. This particularly applies to professional programmes.

Accreditation of Prior Learning

See Recognition of Prior Learning [RPL]


The process of applying and gaining entry to a course of study.

Advisory Teams

A team of staff in each academic faculty who can provide in depth advice to students on their academic options.


A degree without classification awarded in exceptional circumstances where a student has been unable to complete their studies due to illness.

Agreed Record of University Access Adjustments (ARUAA)

Used when students are identified as requiring additional support requirements, details of agreed reasonable adjustments are made in the student's ARUAA. Examples include alternative assessment methods.


Former students.


An appeal is a request for a review of a decision on student progression, assessment and awards.


An applicant is someone who has submitted an application for admission to the University but has not yet completed the application process.


The form you fill in to specify your course preferences. These are often done online.


This is when students who have studied on one programme (perhaps at a Further Education College) are automatically entitled to be admitted with advanced standing on to a degree programme.


A generic term for a set of processes that measure the outcomes of students’ learning, in terms of knowledge acquired, understanding developed and skills gained Assessment may include examinations, essays, project work, reports or a combination of these.

Assessment Attempt

An attempt is used to describe each time an assessment is attempted. For instance, sitting an exam for the first time would be a first attempt. A re-assessment would usually be a second attempt.


Where the mode of study is classroom, workplace or placement-based, attendance is defined as physical presence in the classroom, workplace or placement situation. Where the mode of delivery is electronic, attendance is defined as physical presence in a remote classroom or by appropriate contribution to those online discussions that have been set by Faculties.

Audit (of Module)

See non-assessed.


The outcome or result of a course, including a degree, certificate or diploma.



Bachelor of Arts degree, sometimes BA (Hons) – Honours degree.

Board of Examiners

The Board of Examiners is a formal meeting to review and evaluate the fairness and soundness of the assessment process and making recommendations to Academic Council for degree awards and honour classifications. See: 


Bachelor of Science degree, sometimes BSc (Hons) – Honours degree.



The University Calendar is a collection of rules and regulations that govern the University. It consists of three sections, the Main Volume (Containing the Charter, Statutes, Ordinances and other rules and regulations including those governing research postgraduates), the Undergraduate Regulations (including degree programme tables), and Postgraduate Regulations (including postgraduate taught degree programme tables). 


A class includes teaching sessions, tutorials, seminars or laboratory sessions.

Class - Compulsory

A class is compulsory when attendance is a precondition for receiving credit for the module.

Class - Prescribed

A class is prescribed when a student is required to attend at least two thirds of the classes. Failure to do so results in the module mark being capped at the minimum pass mark.


The system operated by UCAS to match applicants who do not have an offer of a course, with institutions that have vacancies.


Two or more modules that must be taken together within the same semester or same academic year.

Collaborative agreement

A formal agreement between two organisations to collaborate on the provision of a programme leading to a qualification.


The awarding of a pass mark where the module mark is just below the pass mark. This is done based on the performance in other modules.

Component of Assessment

A module is assessed by one or more elements of assessment (e.g. examination, coursework, or practical). These components contribute to the overall result for the module.

Compulsory Module

This is a core module which must be taken as part of a particular degree programme and is named in the Degree Programme Table.

Conditional Offer

An offer made for a place on a programme subject to the gaining of further qualifications or the provision of further information before the offer can be confirmed.


For marketing/external purposes, the term Course is used to mean a Programme.


A piece of work required to be done as part of the programme.


Continuous Professional Development. CPD programmes help individuals maintain their knowledge and skills relating to their professional lives.


A system for determining the time and duration of study needed to gain a particular award. The structure of most taught programmes are expressed in terms of the number of credits required to complete the programme. Credit levels are defined by SCQF. Each credit point represents an average of 10 hours of learning.


Deferred Examination

Students who are unable to attend examinations at the date first set or who have to leave an exam due to illness may be allowed to take a deferred examination at a later date.

Degree Programme Table (DPT)

The Degree Programme Table (DPT) sets out the normal regulated path towards an award. The compulsory and optional modules that are required for the degree programme are given along with the order in which they must be taken and any additional requirements. In selecting modules, students must comply with the pre-requisite, co-requisite and prohibited combination requirements.


See part-time Intermittent.


A discussable case is one where a Board of Examiners considers whether the student's body of work may be eligible for a higher award.


An extended piece of written work or research project looking at a subject in more depth. This is often done in the final year of an honours degree programme or as the final piece of work for a masters.

Distance Learning

A programme that can be studied without the need for students to physically attend the University. Most of the material is delivered online but there can be short periods of attendance such as an induction week.


A degree at level 12 as designated by SCQF. Degrees often include a significant element of research. A PhD is an example of a doctorate.

Double marking

Assessment of students’ work by two or more independent markers as a means of safeguarding or assuring academic standards.



Enhancement-led Institutional Review. The method used by QAA in Scotland to report on quality and academic standards. It explores the ways intuitions seek to improve the learning experiences they provide for students.


The skills, understanding and personal attributes that makes a graduate more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations.


The interaction and communication with particular groups to improve understanding.


The process for systematically improving the quality of provision and the ways in which students’ learning is supported.


Another term of matriculation.


A piece of written work on a particular subject.


One form of assessment to test a student’s knowledge or proficiency, usually involving written work under controlled conditions.

Extenuating Circumstances

Extenuating circumstances are exceptional events that may have affected a student’s performance and that may be taken into consideration by a Board of Examiners. This can include medical or personal circumstances that may have prevented a student performing to the expected standard. Documentary evidence must be provided.

External Examiners

An external examiner is an independent expert, usually from another university, appointed to help ensure that standards used are comparable to those used elsewhere and that the assessment system is equitable and fair.



One of the academic areas of the University. Academic units within a faculty are referred to as Divisions.


The information provided to students, often based on a piece of assessment, which helps them identify areas for improvement and increase their understanding.

First Degree

A degree course taken by an undergraduate student.

Formative Assessment

An assessment designed to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by staff to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. Formative assessment does not carry a grade. An example would be submitting a project proposal for early feedback or asking the students to submit one or two sentences identifying the main points of a lecture. This is different from a summative assessment.


Full Time Equivalent. A measure where a part-time member of staff or student is expressed as a fraction of a full-time member of staff or student.


A full-time student undertakes a minimum of 80 credits (excluding modules being studied on an assessment only basis) over 2 semesters.



A student in the few months between finishing their course and attending graduation.


Someone who has successfully completed a degree course and been awarded their degree.


The formal process of receiving a degree, often at a graduation ceremony.


Head of Faculty

The senior academic officer within each academic Faculty. They provide strategic and academic leadership within the Faculty.


Higher Education Institutions. These include universities, colleges or other organisations that primarily deliver programmes of higher education.


Higher Education Statistics Agency. HESA is the central source for the collection and dissemination of statistics about publicly funded UK higher education.

Honorary Degree

A degree that is not an academic qualification but which is awarded to recognise achievements of an individual.


An honours degree requires more credits than an ordinary degree and for a full time student is normally studied over 4 years. An honours degree requires a minimum of 480 credits with a minimum of 180 at SCQF levels 9 and 10 including at least 90 at level 10. Students are awarded an honours classification (1st, 2:1, 2:2 or 3rd) on completion of their degree.


Intermittent Study

See part-time intermittent.



Knowledge Transfer (KT)/ Knowledge Exchange (KE)

The process of using outcomes of research to benefit the wider society and economy such as through the development of commercial applications.


Learning Outcomes

These are what a learner is expected to know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate after completing a process of learning.

Leave of Absence

Authorised time out from studies for reasons such as ill health or other extenuating circumstances.


A presentation on a particular subject or topic given by a member of academic staff or recognised teacher to a large number of students.


A point within the SCQF. Qualifications within the same level share characteristics and require similar achievement.

Lifelong Learning

The concept of continued study beyond school, college or university.



A postgraduate degree usually lasting one year when studied full time. Study is at level 11 as designated by SCQF. Most commonly a Master of Science (MSc), Master of Letters (MLitt) or Master of Business Administration (MBA).


When a person is admitted to the University once they have satisfied the admissions requirements. This is formally defined in Ordinance 18

Mature Student

Usually someone who is over the age of 21 when they begin their course and has not come directly from Further/Higher Education or from School/College.

Mitigating Circumstances

See extenuating circumstances

Mode of Study

This is the method by which the student is studying, for example full-time, part-time or part-time intermittent.


Undergraduate and postgraduate taught courses are broken down into discrete parts or units.

Module Co-Ordinator

The member of academic staff responsible for co-ordinating the module.

Module Descriptor

Maintained by the Faculty owning the module, the module descriptor provides students with information about the module's content, aims and objectives, teaching and assessment, attendance and engagement expectations, support and other issues.



A module studied on a class only or audit basis. No assessment is undertaken and no credits can be awarded.


Optional Module

An elective module that a student may choose to take as part of their degree programme.

Ordinary Degree

A degree that is not at Honours level which a full time student normally completes over 3 years. An ordinary degree requires a minimum of 360 credits with a minimum of 60 credits at SCQF level 9 or above and a minimum of 90 credits at level 8 or above.



A student will be categorised as part-time if either (i) they are taking less than 80 credits over 2 semesters or (ii) they are studying for less than 2 semesters.

Part-time (Intermittent)

A student who is studying part time but who is following a flexible progression route so may not be taking modules in a continuous sequence.

Part-time (Structured)

A student who is studying part-time and who is following a structured pattern of modules prescribed by a Degree Programme Table.

Personal Tutor

A member of academic staff allocated to all taught students to provide support, guidance and advice to students.


See: Postgraduate


Postgraduate research - a postgraduate student usually studying towards a PhD.


Postgraduate taught - a postgraduate student studying a taught programme such as an MSc, Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate.

PhD/Doctor of Philosophy

An award given to those who have completed a doctorate/research degree.


A period of vocational, industrial or academic experience away from the University that forms part of the student’s award.


This is the most common form of academic misconduct. Plagiarism is the presentation of another person’s work as the student’s own, without proper acknowledgement of the source.


Postgraduate study is beyond first-degree level or bachelor’s level, and leads to a higher qualification such as a Masters degree or PhD. The study is undertaken at SCQF level 11 or above.


A form of learning, usually used in science subjects, which involves you doing something e.g. an experiment.

Pre-requisites (compulsory pass)

In order to take module A, a student must pass module B.

Prerequisites (module content)

In order to take module A, a student must have taken and satisfied the published requirements for, although not necessarily passed, module B.

Prerequisites (recommended)

In order to take module A it is recommended that the student has taken and passed module B.

Prescribed Class

See: Class - Prescribed.

Principal Supervisor

PhD students are supported by a supervisory team comprising a principal supervisor and a second supervisor. The principal supervisor would usually have a good knowledge of the relevant subject area.

Programme Director

Each programme has a programme director who is responsible for that programme. Responsibilities include assisting students on the programme, overseeing quality, conducting the annual programme monitoring and responding to examiners comments and student feedback.

Programme Handbook

Maintained by the Faculty owning the programme, the programme handbook provides students with information about programme and module content, aims and objectives, teaching and assessment, attendance and engagement expectations, support and other issues. It indicates what is expected of students.

Programme of Study

A Programme of Study incorporates the qualification and, where applicable, the subject(s) studied, for instance, MSc in Investment Analysis. All programmes are modular and based on the accumulation of credit. Credit levels are defined by SCQF. The level and amount of credit required depends on the type of qualification.


This is the formal progress through an academic programme, meeting key academic requirements.

Prohibited Combination

A particular combination of modules that cannot be taken together as part of a specified programme (normally because there is a substantial overlap in subject content).


Quality Assurance Agency (QAA)

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education is responsible for safeguarding quality and standards in UK universities and colleges to ensure that students have the best possible learning experience.



Re-assessment provides students with a second opportunity to demonstrate their learning and their competence to progress to further study. In terms of examinations this may be referred to as a resit.

Recognised Teacher

The teaching and assessment of candidates studying for a degree must be carried out by formally recognised teachers. Individuals who are not members of academic staff at the University therefore have to go through an appointment process to become a recognised teacher.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

The process of recognising learning that has come from experience or previous formal or informal learning contexts. This includes knowledge and skills gained from school, college, previous university study and work experience.


See matriculation


The rules of the University, particularly in relation to the academic rules or regulations.

Repeat Module

A student can repeat a module if they have failed to meet the learning outcomes (i.e. have not passed the module) at the first or resit attempt. A repeat module can be taken on either an assessment only basis i.e. the student completes the assessments but does not attend the classes, or a teaching and assessment basis.


See re-assessment


Sabbatical Officers

There are four sabbatical posts in the Students’ Union (President, Vice-President Education, Vice-President Communities and Sports Union President). These positions are elected every year and the students take a year off their studies.

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)

The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework provides a framework onto which educational provision in Scotland is mapped. This shows how different qualifications relate to each other and how they compare in terms of level.


The academic year is split into two semesters (Autumn and Spring).


A teaching class, overseen by a lecturer, which usually has a smaller number of students than a lecture and is more interactive.


Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. A measure of concentrations of deprived areas across Scotland. The 40 refers to those areas in the lowest 2 quintiles (40%). SIMD20 is also used.

Single Honours

An undergraduate degree involving one main subject.


A student is someone who has been admitted to the University to study for academic credit and has commenced and has not otherwise exited the University (through successful completion or withdrawal).

Student Handbook

See Programme Handbook

Summative Assessment

An assessment designed to evaluate student learning as part of the module's outcome. These would normally be a graded assessment such as an exam or project. This is different from a formative assessment



A points system used to measure students achievement on entry to higher education. Different qualifications and grades are allocated appropriate tariff points.


A substantial document submitted as part of an academic degree detailing the student’s research and findings. A Thesis is most commonly required for research degrees such as PhD.

Tier 4

Part of the UKVI’s points-based immigration system that is concerned with individuals who want to come to the UK to study. University’s must achieve ‘Highly Trusted Sponsor’ status allowing the institution to admit migrant student from overseas.


A document, but not a formal certificate, that shows the results achieved in individual modules.

Tuition Fees

The money paid each year by students to enrol or attend a course.


An online plagiarism detection system which works by comparing student assignments against text on the internet and previously submitted assignments.


A small group who meet up with their tutor to discuss their studies.



University and Colleges Admissions Service. UCAS is the central organisation through which applications are processed for entry into Higher Education.


See: Undergraduate


UK Visa and Immigration. This is the part of the Home Office responsible for visas and asylum seekers. The University has a ‘Highly Trusted Sponsor’ status in order to admit overseas students.

Unconditional Offer

An offer made for a place on a programme where the applicant has already met all the required conditions.


A student undertaking study principally at SCQF level 10 or below usually leading to a Bachelor’s Degree.

Unnamed Award

A qualification with no named subject area such as a general degree.



An agreement and formal approval process for ensuring the quality of a programme delivered by or in conjunction with a third party leading to a University qualification.

Viva Voce

An oral examination that assesses the student’s knowledge of their field of research.


Widening Access/Participation

Increasing the involvement in higher education of people from a wide range of backgrounds.


This is when a student discontinues their studies and leaves the University.

Writing up period

A PhD student can get an additional period between the end of the prescribed period of study and the maximum end date of studies, called the writing up period. During this period contact with the supervisor is maintained but research supervision should have been completed.



Year of Study

Indicates the year of study the student is currently undertaking. For students who are part time or who have had time out from their studies the year of study would be the equivalent to a full time student and may not equate to the number of years they have been at the University.