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Academic Transcript

An academic transcript gives details of a student’s academic performance. It includes information on legal name, date of birth, college, mode of study, the qualification obtained, the date of the award (where appropriate) and the modules undertook whilst studying, including the marks achieved.

Assessment / Assignment

When taking a module, students will be given specific tasks designed to allow them to demonstrate that they have achieved the learning outcomes for that module. They might, for instance, be asked to write an essay, or give an oral presentation.

Strictly speaking, 'assignment' is the word for the task set, and 'assessment' for the process by which markers check whether the student has completed that task in a way that demonstrates the relevant learning outcomes. In practice, the words 'assignment' and 'assessment' are often used interchangeably.

Assessment can be formative or summative.


An award is the qualification conferred upon students who have taken a specific programme of study consisting of a number of modules, and who, by passing various assessments for those modules, have demonstrated that they have achieved the intended learning outcomes for that programme.

In the UK, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) sets out the kinds of achievement needed for awards at each of five levels, from certificate (Level 4) to doctorate (Level 8).


Congregation is the term used to describe the University’s graduation ceremonies and means a gathering of members and friends of the University to witness and celebrate the conferring of degrees.

Co-requisite Module Combination

These are modules that must be studied concurrently in order for the learning outcomes of the co-requisite modules to be achieved.


Students who successfully complete modules gain credits – a specific number of them, at a specific level, for each module. Roughly speaking, the number of credits gained indicates ‘how much’ learning was involved, and the level indicates ‘how hard’ it was.

Credit is awarded to students who successfully complete the assessments for a module, and so demonstrate that they have met that module's learning outcomes.

The amount of learning indicated by a credit value is worked out by estimating how long it will take a typical student to achieve the relevant learning outcomes. All types of learning are included in this estimate, including formal classes, independent study, and assessment.

In the UK Higher Education sector, one credit represents an estimated ten hours of learning – so a 20-credit module should take about 200 hours of a typical student's time. See our Learning Hours policy for more detail on how this is applied in a Common Awards context.

Diploma Supplement

This document describes Higher Education qualifications in a standard format that is designed to be easily understood and straightforward to compare. It contains information on the level, context, content and status of the studies that were successfully undertaken. This allows other universities or employers to understand the qualification in relation to the education system of the country where the qualification was studied. The diploma supplement is not a replacement for the official parchment and academic transcript issued by the University.

Excluded Module Combination

These are modules that cannot be studied together in a programme of academic study because their content significantly overlaps. Excluded combinations can be at the same or different levels of study.

Exit Awards

If a student chooses to withdraw from their programme of study, or is required to withdraw due to academic failure, they may have completed sufficient credits to be eligible to receive a lower Common Awards ‘exit award’. For example, if a student chooses to withdraw from the BA in Theology, Ministry and Mission having completed 240 credits at the appropriate levels, they may be eligible to receive an exit award of the Diploma of Higher Education in Theology, Ministry and Mission. The TEI Board of Examiners can recommend exit awards to the Overarching Durham Board of Examiners following their consideration of exiting students’ completed credits. See our TEI Board Decisions: Recommending Awards to Durham page for more detail on recommending awards to the Overarching Board of Examiners.

Formational Pathway

Training course shared by a cohort of students and leading to a specified ministry. Ordinands and lay trainees, and full-time as against part-time students, may be on different formational pathways.

Formative and Summative Assessment

The assignments set for a module can be of two kinds.

Summative assignments are the ones that count directly towards a student's final mark for the module in question. A student's performance in these assignment tasks is assessed to see whether the student has demonstrated their achievement of the relevant learning outcomes. The set of summative assignments will have been designed to allow a student to meet all of the relevant module's learning outcomes.

Formative assignments are ones that do not count directly towards a student's final mark for the module in question. They will have been designed to allow students to practice some of the skills or gain some of the experience they will need for their summative assignments, and to get some useful feedback to help guide their learning.

Strictly speaking, all assignments are formative, in that they all involve tasks that allow students to develop their skills, and they should all allow some kind of feedback that helps with the learning process. In practice, however, we tend to only to speak of an assignment as formative if it is not summative.

Learning Outcome

Learning outcomes are statements that identify what students are expected to gain as a result of their learning. They describe what students are expected to know and understand, together with the skills that they should be able to demonstrate on successful completion of the module or programme.

Every programme has a set of programme learning outcomes (set out in the programme specifications). Every module has a set of module learning outcomes (set out in the module outlines). Pathways through a programme are designed so that a student who successfully meets the module learning outcomes for each module on the pathway will thereby automatically have met all the programme learning outcomes for their programme.

So, for instance, the programme learning outcomes for the Certificate in Theology, Ministry and Mission include this: 'On successful completion of the programme, students will be able to … discuss intelligently a range of biblical texts and various issues and methods related to their interpretation.' A student might take the module TMM1051 'Using the Bible Today' which, according to its module learning outcomes, will help them 'Question the ways in which biblical interpretation of selected texts and contemporary issues correlate, and communicate this reliably in a range of contexts.' Meeting that module learning outcome will help them meet the programme learning outcome.


module's 'level' is an indicator of the relative demand, complexity, depth of study and learner autonomy involved in it. The credit that a student gains by successfully completing that module will be at the same level as the module.

In the UK, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) sets out the kinds of achievement needed for awards at each of five levels, from Certificate (Level 4) through Diploma (Level 5) and BA (Level 6) and MA (Level 7) to Doctorate (Level 8).

On many programmes, students start at one level, and work up to another. So for a BA degree, students normally start at Level 4, move through Level 5, and finish at Level 6. In a traditional full-time degree, each of these levels would take a year to complete – but progression from level to level can happen on all sorts of other timescales too.

Module Code

All modules are allocated a unique 'module code' (e.g. TMM1501). The module code enables the University to identify modules; this is particularly important for the processes of module registration and marks entry.

Module Outline

Each Common Awards module has a ‘module outline’ that sets out key information such as the module title, credit value, teaching content, and learning outcomes. The information in the module outline forms a 'core' that all TEIs must include in their modules; this ensures comparability and consistency across Common Awards programmes, but also enables TEIs to tailor individual modules to their particular context, expertise, or student body.

TEIs are permitted to choose the methods of teaching and learning, the assessment patterns and learning hours for each module, as well as the suggested reading for students. Some of this information is detailed in TEI Module Overview Tables to provide an overview of how the module will be taught and assessed at each TEI. (For more on how TEIs design their modules, see our Curriculum Development page.)

Module Overview Table

A 'Module Overview Table’ lists in detail all the modules that are approved for delivery for each programme offered by the TEI. For each module, the document specifies the chosen assessment tasks (selected from the options permitted in the Assessment Patterns policy), the learning hours (in line with the Learning Hours parameters) and delivery methods.


A parchment is the word which the University uses to mean a student’s certificate. A parchment is an official document which proves that a student has a University of Durham qualification.


'Pathway' is a word that is used in two different ways in the Common Awards context.

In a university context, 'pathway' is used to name the route that an institution has planned for a cohort of students to take through a programme. So, a specific institution may have set out some rules saying that students in a particular cohort taking the Diploma in Theology, Ministry and Mission, for example, need to take certain compulsory modules, and choose optional modules from particular lists. There will also be some rules that govern the order these modules are taken in. All of these rules are set out in the TEI's programme regulations. There may be different rules for different cohorts of students (where the students in those cohorts have different needs or opportunities): we call those different pathways, even if they lead to the same award. (For more on how TEIs design pathways within the overall Common Awards framework, see our Curriculum Development page.)

Pathways through a programme are designed so that a student who successfully meets the module learning outcomes for each module on the pathway will thereby automatically have met all the programme learning outcomes for their programme.

In church contexts, however, 'pathway' is often used to name the specific route that an individual student takes through a programme. Two students at the same institution, taking the same programme, who are part of the same cohort (and so on the same 'pathway' in the university sense of that word) might, in consultation with their tutors, take different optional modules – and so have different individualised 'pathways' in the church sense of that word.

Programme (Specifications)

A programme is a course of study leading to an award. Each of our awards has its own programme specification – a document setting out the programme learning outcomes that students have to achieve to gain the award, and setting out some rules for the kinds of modules TEIs should offer to students studying for that award.

The Common Awards programme specifications, because they describe programmes in the area of theology and religious studies, have to comply with the national Subject Benchmark for that subject area.

Students working to a given academic programme may be following different formational pathways.

Programme Regulations

The programme regulations set out the modules approved for delivery for each programme offered by the TEI.


When a student on a particular pathway through a programme moves from one level to the next, that is what we call progression. Students normally have to demonstrate that they have achieved enough credit at the lower level in order to progress to the higher.

Subject Benchmark

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), a national body involved in the oversight of Higher Education, publishes documents for each subject area, setting out what it takes to gain Higher Education awards in that area – what broad sorts of subject matter they should study, and what kinds of standard they should achieve. The Common Awards programme specifications were written to comply with the Subject Benchmark Statement for Theology and Religious Studies.

Summative Assessment

See Formative and summative assessment.