What size should a module be?

Undergraduate and postgraduate modules will normally be 15 or 30 credits in value (or multiples thereof for research projects and other larger modules).

Creating a common currency for our modules around a 15/30 model allows us to achieve the benefits of interdisciplinary provision and more flexible degree options for students while minimising the complications of combining different modules to total 120 credits per year. There are also advantages in enabling greater transparency and equity of relative work- and assessment- loads across modules and programmes.

What makes up a module varies dramatically across the institution, but a broad differentiation between 15 and 30 credit modules can be described as below.

30 credit module

Typically a 30 credit module:

  • Covers a large topic in breadth and depth
  • Covers several difficult key issues or concepts
  • Pulls together a range of perspectives or approaches into a coherent whole
  • Involves the students in extensive project, group or other assessed work that requires reflection or development over a period.

15 credit module

A 15 credit module usually:

  • Covers one discrete topic in depth
  • Focuses on a targeted group of key skills or issues
  • Provides an overview of a topic, drawing in a number of perspectives but not covering any in great depth.


Student workload and assessment effort for a 30 credit module should be broadly double that of a 15 credit module. That is not necessarily taught session hours; it may be that more hours are devoted to group work, independent work towards assessments, etc., although there is usually more contact time at 30 credits than in a 15 credit module in the same department.


There will be exceptions to the common approach, which we suggest should be determined at programme level and by programme teams in consultation with departmental and college academic directors. Some modules are only used in specific programmes and would never be taken outside those programmes, for instance; indeed, there are some programmes in which none of the modules would ever need to be ‘shared’ as part of joint or major/minor degrees. There are also smaller modules (5 or 10 credits, for example) that have a specific function within a particular programme (although some of these could practically be taken together to generate 15 credits). There are other examples of exception, for example the potential conversion difficulties for distance learning programmes built around 20-credit frameworks.

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