Awards available on flexible study routes

This section summarises the awards available for students accumulating credit through one or more of a range of routes (credit-rated short courses at UH, credit-rated short courses at externally-accredited providers, Accredited Prior Experiential Learning (APEL), Accredited Prior Certificated Learning (APCL), negotiated work-based learning, as well as registration on traditional modules from across the University), and also the awards available for both small volumes of credit (‘small awards’) and larger volumes of credit (‘large awards’). Most of these awards are only available through the ‘Credit Accumulation and Transfer’ (CATS) programme. However, specific named awards may also be available through the normal programme validation route, but these would require the initial approval of the University’s Academic Development Committee (ADC).

Generic awards (Professional Development Studies)

Although some employees, especially at level 7 and in the context of continuous professional development (CPD), may wish to achieve a particular named award of the University, many will aggregate credit which will not be aligned to a specific award.  The University has introduced ‘Professional Development Studies’ awards that recognise a ‘bundle’ of credit which may not be fully coherent nor align with an existing named award. It allows externally-accredited providers of credit to have awards for candidates accumulating credit without the need to validate an award at the partner.

The ‘Professional Development Studies’ award title (formerly ‘Open Studies’), is a generic ‘large award’ available for candidates who are accumulating credit through various routes which are not part of a validated programme, and is available for MA/MSc, PGDip, PGCert, BA/BSc Hons, BA/BSc, GradDip, GradCert, DipHE and CertHE awards, and awarded through the CATS programme. In order to qualify for a Professional Development Studies award, it is necessary for a candidate to have acquired the necessary amount of credit at the appropriate level.  The CATS Programme Board is used to confirm the award.

The CATS programme operates three separate Boards to approve separate aspects of their activities:

  • The CATS APL/WBL Board considers and approves all claims for APCL and APEL from candidates wishing to achieve an award through the CATS programme. It also confirms credit gained through the generic Work Based Learning (WBL) short courses;
  • The CATS Approvals Board approves candidates’ award titles on the basis of their previously-completed and intended study profile; and
  • The CATS Programme Board subsequently recommends those awards on the basis of the satisfactory completion of that profile.

The CATS Approvals Board will need to be satisfied that the study profile meets both the academic level requirements (as defined in the QAA (2014) Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications for UK Degree Awarding Bodies) and credit requirements (as defined in UH UPR AS11 – Schedule of Awards). The CATS Programme Tutor (located in the School of Humanities) will be able to advise on the procedure for taking proposals to the CATS Approvals Board, using the CATS Programme of Study form.

Semi-Generic awards

Semi-generic ‘large awards’ are available for candidates who are accumulating credit through various routes which are not part of a validated programme, where there is an appropriate measure of coherence within the credit being offered. Again, they are available for MA/MSc, PGDip, PGCert, BA/BSc Hons, BA/BSc, GradDip, GradCert, DipHE and CertHE awards, and awarded through the CATS programme.

Two routes are offered for the semi-generic award titles:

1. Academic titles, for those who have accumulated credit through mainly taught provision (classroom-based modules taught by UH). These have titles ‘xxxx Studies’ or ‘Studies in xxxx’;

2. Professional Titles, for those who have accumulated credit through professional practice (APEL, WBL, employer-delivered modules, etc.). These have titles ‘Professional Practice in xxxx’ or ‘xxxx Practice’.

For example if a candidate had a collection of credit which is predominantly related to engineering, it might be appropriate to give an award title of say ‘Engineering Studies’ or ‘Engineering Practice’, rather than simply an award in ‘Professional Development Studies’. The full list of titles available through the CATS programme is shown in Table 5.1.

NB: Only the semi-generic titles identified in table 5.1 have been approved by the UH Academic Development Committee (ADC), for use by the CATS programme for MA/MSc, PGDip, PGCert, BA/BSc Hons, BA/BSc, GradDip, GradCert, Dip HE and Cert HE awards.

With the academic titles, these awards are also available for joint and major-minor combinations of the designated titles, e.g. Studies in Law and Psychology, Engineering Studies with Computing. Where a student has followed a programme of studies that matches the structure of one field within the UH Joint Honours programme, then that title will also be able to be made as one half of a combined title (e.g. Studies in Enterprise and Bioscience, Studies in Business with Sport). It is also intended that the Honours awards be available ‘with a Year Abroad’ and ‘Sandwich’. The CATS Programme Specification will identify the full range of titles and awards available.

Again, the CATS Approvals Board approves candidates’ award titles on the basis of their previously-completed and intended study profile, and will need to be satisfied that the study profile meets both the academic level requirements as defined in the QAA (2019) Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications for UK Degree Awarding Bodiesand credit requirements (as defined in UH UPR AS11 – Schedule of Awards). The proposing School will also need to demonstrate that the profiles of candidates for semi-generic awards meet the expectations of the relevant QAA Subject Benchmark statement. For instance, for a BSc Hons Engineering Studies, the majority of the Learning Outcomes specified in the QAA Subject Benchmark Statement for Engineering should be satisfied. At academic levels where the Subject Benchmark statements cannot be fully applied, they should be used for guidance only and the academic judgement of the School will be relied upon to advise on the appropriateness of the award title (a substantial proportion of a candidate’s credit would need to be associated with the broad discipline area in order for a title to be approved). The CATS Programme Tutor will be able to advise on the procedure for taking proposals to the CATS Approvals Board, using the CATS Programme of Study form.

List of semi-generic award titles available through the CATS programme, by academic school

 

Academic titles

Professional titles

Hertfordshire Business School

Business and Management  Studies

Professional Practice in Business & Management

School of Creative Arts

Creative Arts Studies
Media Studies
Studies in the Humanities

Creative Arts Practice

School of Health and Social Work

Studies in Health
Studies in Health & Social Care
Studies in Healthcare Leadership Management

 
Hertfordshire Law School Studies in Law
Studies in Education

Professional Practice in Law
Professional Practice in  Education

School of Life and Medical Sciences

Bioscience Studies
Studies in Sport
Geography & Environmental Studies
Health Science Studies
Psychology Studies
Medical Studies
Healthcare Studies

 
School of Physics, Engineering and Computer Science

Computing Studies
Engineering Studies
Studies in Physics
Studies in Mathematics
Technology & Innovation Studies

Engineering Practice
Professional Practice in Computing
Technology & Innovation Practice

Small awards

The University has two ‘small awards’, available at all academic levels, to provide a more realisable target for work-based learners:

  • Certificate in Professional Development: 30 credits at levels 4, 5, 6 or 7
  • Diploma in Professional Development: 60 credits at levels 4, 5, 6 or 7

The awards are untitled, although the academic level is indicated, e.g. Certificate in Professional Development (Level 5) and both are awarded only through the CATS programme. The underlying principle follows that adopted in the QCA Qualifications and Credit Framework, where both Certificates (for 13-36 credits) & Diplomas (for 37+ credits) are available at academic levels up to Doctorate.

Again, the CATS Approvals Board approves these awards on the basis of the previously-completed and intended study profile, and will need to be satisfied that the study profile meets both the academic level requirements (as defined in the QAA (2019) Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications for UK Degree Awarding Bodies and credit requirements as defined above). The CATS Programme Tutor will be able to advise on the procedure for taking proposals to the CATS Approvals Board, using the CATS Programme of Study form (see HertsHub).

It is worth noting that small awards may have an effect on the ELQ (equivalent or lower qualifications) status of an individual. Any student accumulating credit without it contributing towards an award can continue to do so with no ELQ ramifications. But those accumulating credit and who subsequently achieve a small award (for, say, 30 credits at level 4), and then decide to enrol on a first degree might have to be classified as ELQ, at least for their first year and the University would not be able to claim funding for that student from HEFCE.

Awards with specialised award titles

The flexible credit framework creates the possibility that an award could be made with a named award title, which is more specific to the nature of the credit accumulated. This would typically be achieved through advanced standing onto a programme of studies followed by the accumulation of credit through study on a predefined group of short courses.  There are two ways in which this might be reached:

(a) The modules on an existing programme are also offered as short courses (of either the same credit size, or broken down into smaller 5- or 10-credit point short courses), with those undertaking short courses going through the same learning experience. Thus, those attending the short courses would end up with the same amount of credit achieved by the same processes as those who are registered on the programme.  The 75% APL limit still applies in this case.

(b)  A programme is designed around a group of short courses, with the objective of giving a named award to those who succeed in all the short courses. APCL, APEL and negotiated work–based learning could be built into the programme in terms of advanced standing arrangements (for instance, into the final year of a degree programme). Such an approach would be designed specifically for work-based learners. In this case the award would need to be approved by the University’s Academic Development Committee (ADC), and formally validated.  If the constituent UH short courses have already been approved, the validation event would focus on the coherency of the programme. Likewise, if an externally-accredited UH partner delivering standalone credit wanted an award associated with this already-approved credit then the validation event would focus on the coherency of the programme. However, if the method of delivery, credit numbers and timing of delivery of the short courses align with module delivery timescales, the short courses should become Definitive Module Documents.

APEL limits

The prescribed limits to the amount of credit that may be recognised through APEL for University awards are currently set at 75% of the credit required for the award (see the section on Accredited Prior Learning, APEL and APCL of the Flexible Credit Framework). However, limits on APEL may still apply where a University award needs to comply with the requirements of a Professional and/or Statutory-Regulatory Body (PSRB).

All forms, including the CATS Programme of Study Form, are available for UH staff on HertsHub.