A degree of flexibility

Flexibility and choice: our two watchwords. Our modular approach means you can develop your studies as you go, putting you in control of your education.

Your year

We split each academic year into two 15-week semesters, rather than the traditional three terms. Each semester has:

  • A week-long mid-semester break
  • A reading/study block
  • A two week exam period at the end

Semester dates

Please view the semester dates information


Your subject choice

One of Stirling's major advantages is that you get to adapt and develop your study choices as you go along. In your first couple of years, you take more than one subject — generally three each semester. You can choose these from across the University; there are no faculty restrictions. For example, you could take a business subject like Human Resource Management alongside a very different discipline, such as Psychology. As you'll see from the following sections, you can then alter the focus of your degree subject as your interests and aspirations change.

How you earn your degree — the credit system

Pretty much all educational institutions in Scotland use the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF), which is a credit system used for all qualifications. In order to earn a degree, you have to accumulate credits. Credits are basically a way of showing how much time it takes to complete a piece of learning. As a rough guide, one credit point represents the amount of learning achieved through ten hours learning time. These are divided into different levels ranging from Access at Level 1 to Doctorate at Level 12. For Honours and Bachelor degrees, you'll typically be studying at about levels 7 to 10.

Further information on the SCQF credit framework is available at www.scqf.org.uk

How your degree is structured — the module system

Your studies are split into modules. Most modules are worth 20 credits each. You generally take three modules each semester; they can be in three different subjects, or all the same subject, depending on what you want to study. You are assessed and awarded credits as you go along, at the end of each semester. This means you could change from full to part-time study and all your work would still count — it might just take a little longer to get there.

The key benefit of modular study is flexibility. It's possible to start on one degree programme and graduate in something entirely different, or change the emphasis of the degree programme you follow. You have until the middle of your second year to decide exactly what subject you want to qualify in.

How you'll be assessed

We assess you as you go along. Your final grade after each semester is likely to be made up of several pieces of assessed work. These will vary from subject to subject, and from one programme module to the next, but could include essays, short tests, lab reports, projects, presentations — either individual or in groups — and examinations. In most cases, examination accounts for no more than 50% of the overall grade for each module. Dissertations or research projects undertaken in the final year are assessed entirely by coursework. We prefer this approach as it's fair and precise, it means you get constant feedback and it minimises the stress of intense final exams.

N.B. There are some exceptions. For example, if you're studying Social Work, Nursing & Midwifery, LLB Law, or some of the Biological and Environmental Science programmes, you'll take three prescribed modules within your programme.

What qualifications can I get?

QualificationMinimum number of modulesSCQF CreditsDetails
Honours Degree
If you're full time, you can get this in four years. In most programmes, you study three subjects in your first year.
At least 90 at Level 9 and 90 at Level 10 for Single Honours. A minimum number of Level 10 credits for each subject in a Combined Honours degree.
You can take a Single Honours degree — one main specialist area of study in your last two years (semesters five to eight) or a Combined Honours degree — two or occasionally three subjects.
Bachelor Degree
(with one module worth more than 20 credits to make the total)
At least 60 credits at Level 9.
A three-year programme in a single subject, it still combines study in a number of areas in the initial stages. You can also take a General degree over three years, allowing for a greater breadth of study.
Diploma of Higher Education
Minimum of 90 credits at Level 8 or above.
We hope you'll leave us with a degree, but if not, we offer qualifications that require less credits in case you have to leave before three years.
Certificate of Higher Education
Minimum of 90 credits at Level 7 or above.

For all qualifications, you start by taking a variety of subjects — probably three each semester for the first year at least. At the end of each semester you can carry on with these subjects or drop one or even two and start something different. The only thing you must do is any compulsory components of your intended degree. At the end of Semester 3 (midway through your second year) you make your final decision about the subject(s) you want to study to degree level.

You might have a clear idea of what degree subject you want to focus on when you enter higher education. Or you might want to keep your options open. At Stirling, your degree can develop as your interests and ambitions do too.

Example of how your degree can change

In your first year you choose three subjects each semester. Both our sample students are BA (Hons) Politics students but the subjects they end up choosing are very different. At this stage you can pursue subjects you've enjoyed studying to date, choose areas of study you think will help you with your career, or simply try out something new. You can even mix arts with business or science with humanities; there are very few restrictions across the subject areas.

Year 1 — keeping your options open

Student A - BA (Hons) Politics
Semester 1 Politics French Management
Semester 2 Politics French Management
Student B - BA (Hons) Politics
Semester 1 Politics French Management
Semester 2 Politics French Management

Year 2 — refining your choices

Mid-way through your second year – at the end of your third semester, you make your final decision about what you want to study to degree level. Student A is focusing on Politics and continuing with a Single Honours programme of study, whereas Student B has decided to combine French and Marketing and will now be studying for a BA (Hons) French and Marketing degree.

Student A - BA (Hons) Politics
Semester 3 Politics Politics Management
Semester 4 Politics Politics History
Student B - BA (Hons) Politics
Semester 3 Politics French Management
Semester 4 Politics French Marketing

Year 3 — becoming a specialist

By your third year, you're immersed in your chosen subject, as are our sample students. Student B will leave for France in the second half of their third year to further specialise. Many of our degree subjects allow for a period of study abroad, especially if one of your Combined Honours subjects is a language.

Student A - BA (Hons) Politics
Semester 5 Politics Politics Politics
Semester 6 Politics Politics Politics
Student B - BA (Hons) French and Marketing
Semester 5 Marketing French French or Marketing
Semester 6 Period of study abroad with two modules at degree level, one in French, one in Marketing.

While the first and second years are about choice and exploration, your final two years are about specialisation and performance: these are the years that determine your final grade. In our example, Student A with a Single Honours degree will graduate in Politics and Student B will graduate with a Combined Honours degree in French and Marketing. Whatever path you decide to take you can be sure of our support, advice and inspiration every step of the way: but remember, the choice is yours.

Year 4 — working for your degree

Student A - BA (Hons) Politics
Semester 7 Politics Politics Politics dissertation  
Semester 8 Politics Politics dissertation BA (Hons) Politics
Student B - BA (Hons) French and Marketing
Semester 7 Marketing French Marketing/French  
Semester 8 Marketing French Marketing/French BA (Hons) French and Marketing
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