Academic Registry

Course Structure and Regulations

Course Structure and Regulations

Here you can find detailed information on how your course is structured, the learning and teaching activities which you may encounter, and the academic regulations which govern progression and achievement.

You can also find information about professional body requirements which may pertain to your course, how to submit feedback on your course or module - including how that feedback is used to improve provision at Buckinghamshire New University.


All courses at the University are broken down into years or stages and modules that are linked to those years. Passing each module will award you with credit which will contribute to achievement of your overall award.

Modules will normally give either 10 or 20 credits for undergraduate courses or up to 60 credits for postgraduate courses. The amount of credit you will receive will depend on the level of effort required by you, which is measured in terms of ‘notional learning hours’. Credits are not awarded at Foundation Year. Your Programme Handbook will give you an exact breakdown of your own course and the modules you will be studying.

At Buckinghamshire New University 1 unit of credit is the equivalent of 10 notional learning hours. A 20 credit module therefore represents 200 hours and includes:

  • the scheduled teaching you will receive (often known as ‘contact hours’)
  • time spent on placement or work experience, and
  • your own time reading around your subject area, preparing for your lectures or seminars, and completing your assignments.
Undergraduate courses

A typical full-time undergraduate degree programme consists of three-years of full-time study. Each year is made up of 120 credits which will be set at particular academic level. Academic levels are designed to be progressively harder the higher the level of achievement.

In total, therefore, a degree programme will be made up of 360 credits. This is broken down as follows:

  • Year One: 120 Credits at Level Four (1200 hours)
  • Year Two: 120 Credits at Level Five (1200 hours)
  • Year Three: 120 Credits at Level Six (1200 hours)

For each year of study, you might study:

  • Year One: two 10 credit modules and five 20 credit modules
  • Year Two: two 10 credit modules and five 20 credit modules
  • Year Three: four 20 credit modules and one 40 credit module

Depending on your course, modules will either be ‘year-long’ or might start and finish in a particular Term (effectively a third of a year of study or 10 weeks). Some modules are taught in an exclusive 5-week block. An undergraduate year typically consists of 30 weeks; for each week you should expect to be spending the equivalent of 40 hours on your course.

The award is set at the highest level of achievement, so a degree programme is considered to be a Level Six award. The Qualifications And Credit Framework document has structures for other awards offered by the University.

Postgraduate courses

A typical full-time postgraduate course such as a Master’s programme will consist of one year of full-time study totalling 180 credits. Unlike an undergraduate programme, all Master’s level study is set at Level Seven, while a complete year will form the equivalent of 1800 hours.

A full-time Master’s programme will typically be longer than the standard undergraduate year and will normally be 45 weeks of teaching. Again, for each week of the course you should expect to be spending the equivalent of 40 hours on your studies.


Structured learning activities include lectures, seminars, tutorials and other time-tabled sessions. The amount of time set aside for each activity (‘contact hours’) is set out in individual module descriptors and so will vary depending on the modules you take. When you are not attending structured learning and teaching activities you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, using the library, preparing for seminars, and completing coursework assignments.

These are activities within the University in relation to scheduled learning and teaching activities for which contact time has been set aside. Many of these activities can take place either ‘virtually’ (i.e. through Blackboard) or face-to-face.


A presentation or talk on a particular topic, possibly as part of a lecture series. Lectures can take a variety of forms using a range of media or technologies.


A discussion or classroom session focusing on a particular topic or project. Seminars may be used to support a lecture series as they offer the opportunity for students to engage in more detailed discussion. Seminars may be tutor-led or peer-led (i.e. by a student with a member of staff present).


A meeting involving one-to-one or small group supervision, feedback or detailed discussion on a particular topic or project. Tutorials can take place virtually as well a face-to-face.

Project supervision

A meeting between a student or a group of students and a supervisor to discuss a particular piece of work, e.g. a dissertation or extended project. The scale and frequency of meetings will depend on the nature of the work involved.


A session involving the demonstration of a practical technique or skill. May be followed up by a practical class. Examples may include the demonstration of laboratory skills, clinical skills, and performance art or fieldwork techniques.

Practical classes and workshops

A session involving the development and practical application of a particular skill or technique. May follow up on a demonstration and sessions are likely to be supervised or observed. Workshops are likely to involve a small group of students, but practical classes could also take place on a one-to-one basis.

Supervised time in studio / workshops

Time in which students work independently but under supervision (by either an academic or member of technical staff) in a specialist facility such as a studio or workshop. Examples might include time spent in an art or design studio, or in a rehearsal space such as a workshop theatre.


Practical work conducted at an external site. Examples might include survey work or data collection.

External visit

A visit to a location outside the University, to experience a particular environment, event, or exhibition relevant to the course of study. Examples might include a visit to a business, museum or collection, or attendance at a performance or exhibition.

Work-based learning

Learning that takes place in the workplace through an organised work opportunity, including a managed placement. Some level of supervision is likely to be involved, either by a member of staff or a mentor within the host institution.


Academic regulations are there to assure the University’s academic standards and to ensure that all students are treated consistently and fairly.

Current Academic Assessment Regulations

The following regulations apply to all of the University’s taught academic programmes delivered in the UK or overseas by whatever mode or regime.

Regulations are subject to annual review so it is important that you refer to the current version on this web page.

Variations to regulations

Variations to these regulations for specific modules or programmes are detailed in individual Programme Specifications and Programme Handbooks. Regulations are sometimes varied for individual partners or to meet Professional Body requirements.

The following programmes have specific regulatory variations which are appended to the above document:

Pre-Registration Nursing programmes (Undergraduate) – see Appendix 1

  • BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc (Hons) Nursing (Children’s)
  • BSc (Hons) Nursing (Mental Health)

Pre-Registration Nursing programme (Postgraduate) – see Appendix 2

  • MSc Nursing (Adult)
  • MSc Nursing (Mental Health)
  • PGDip Nursing (Mental Health)

Social Work programmes (Undergraduate and postgraduate) – see Appendix 3

  • BSc (Hons) Social Work
  • MSc Social Work
  • PGDip Social Work

BA (Hons) Air Transport Management with Airline Pilot Training – see Appendix 4

BA (Hons) Acting – see Appendix 5

BA (Hons) Hair and Make-Up - see Appendix 6

Archived Academic Assessment Regulations


Note: This information refers to feedback you provide to the University on the course or module you are studying. For feedback from the University on assessed work please visit our Assessment and Examination section.

We are constantly seeking to improve the courses and modules we offer and at various points during your studies we will ask you for your feedback on how we are doing and what we can do better.

In addition to these formal feedback opportunities we also welcome informal feedback to module and course tutors on an ongoing basis.

Module Evaluation

For every module you undertake (including both practice and placement modules) we will aim to give you the opportunity to provide feedback. We use an online system for module evaluations that allows us to collect information anonymously. At the end of each module the evaluation will open up on your module page in Blackboard.

Questions will be based around those used for the National Student Survey (NSS) and will include sections on: Assessment and feedback, Academic support, Organisation and management, and Learning resources. Survey results will be reported back to you via your Programme Committee.

Programme Committees

Each area of study will have a Programme Committee which comprises elected undergraduate and (where relevant) postgraduate student representatives together with course and module tutors and other staff.

Programme committees meet two times a year and provide an opportunity to review how things are going on the course(s) generally and to contribute to broader development discussions on delivery and content. They are supported by a range of background information including external examiner reports, survey results and other information. This is accessible to all registered students via the Programme Committee shell on Blackboard.

Student reps will be expected to gather feedback from their fellow students ahead of meetings, including both good practice as well as any areas of concern. You can find out who your student rep is via the SU’s representation pages.

Becoming student rep

Being a student rep is rewarding work which will build your communication skills, offer you the opportunity for valuable networking and contribute to your CV. Some reps may even get the opportunity to chair meetings providing further development opportunities.

BNU Students’ Union supports student reps across the University by co-ordinating elections, managing training and providing ongoing support. See the SU’s representation pages for more information about how you can get involved.

UK-wide survey opportunities

You may also be invited to provide feedback on your course for various sector-wide surveys.

National Student Survey (NSS)

The NSS is an annual survey of nearly half a million UK students intended to gather honest feedback on what final year students feel about key aspects of their courses and experiences.

It is open to all final-year undergraduate students who meet the eligibility criteria. Questions are based around the following areas:

  • Assessment and feedback
  • Academic support
  • Organisation and management, and
  • Learning resources

UK Engagement Survey (UKES)

The UKES is open to all Level 4, 5 and 6 undergraduate students (who are not eligible for the NSS) and is the only major undergraduate survey in the UK higher education sector that measures students’ engagement with their studies. Questions are around themes including critical thinking, working with others, and interacting with staff and the types of activities they are participating in.

Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES)

The PTES is the only UK higher education sector-wide survey to gain insight from taught postgraduate students about their learning and teaching experience. It is open to all Level 7 postgraduate students on taught courses at BNU.