Swansea University

Modular Terminology

Modular Terminology

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A module can be described as a building block of a programme of study - it is a self-contained component and is normally made up of a series of lectures/tutorials/practicals combined with independent study and assessment tasks.  Each module has its specific learning outcomes, a syllabus, a teaching/learning pattern and a means of assessing whether or not you have met the learning outcomes.  Each module is assigned credit points.

Structure of Modules

The structure of a module can change from subject to subject, and indeed can vary even within a subject.  Most modules are based around the formal lecture structure whereby you are expected to attend lectures and to undertake private study. If you are pursuing lecture-based modules you are normally also expected to attend seminars.  Other forms of modules would include practical-based modules which will include a large practical element.  Naturally the formal contact between you and the academic staff teaching your modules will be greater on the practical-based modules than the lecture based modules.  You are advised to refer to the College Handbook for more information on the structure of each module.

Compulsory/Core Modules

Although modules are regarded as stand-alone building blocks, Colleges may group certain modules together and identify them as being compulsory modules for particular programmes. Such modules are regarded as being essential components of certain programmes and hence you must pursue such modules.  Details of your compulsory modules are given in your College Handbook. 

In some disciplines, compulsory modules may also be labelled as 'core' modules.  Core modules must not only be pursued but they must also be passed. These are particularly relevant in subjects leading to professional qualifications such as Law, Psychology, Social Work, Medicine and Engineering. Unless they are passed, you will not be allowed to progress from one level of study to another or complete the programme.

Optional Modules

Optional modules are chosen by you. Optional modules are normally within the subject area of the programme but can also include other subject areas offered within the College or related subjects offered by other Colleges.  Lists of approved optional modules are available in the College. Academic staff are always available to advise you on your selection of optional modules. 

Normally, by the time you reach the final year of study of an undergraduate programme, the number of compulsory modules will have been reduced to allow for greater choice of optional modules within the College, thereby enabling you to study more specialised topics.  The choice of optional modules will always be governed by timetabling constraints.

Elective Modules

With the approval of the Home College, you are allowed to pursue elective modules.  These modules are in a subject area which does not reflect the overall content of the programme/title of award, for instance, a European language module. The Head of College must authorise the selection of an elective module. In some cases, the College may identify the elective modules. Elective modules are not permitted for students pursuing Postgraduate Taught programmes.

Replacement Modules

Replacement modules are those modules which are normally studied during the second semester in place of other modules from which a student has withdrawn beyond the permitted deadline of six weeks from the commencement of the modules.

Substitute Modules

Substitute modules are those modules which are normally studied during the second semester in place of modules which have been failed during the first semester.  You may apply to your home College/School to be permitted to pursue substitute module(s).  The marks obtained for substitute modules will be subject to the capping rules.

Module Rules

Colleges might stipulate that you must have passed certain modules before being allowed to select another, i.e. to pursue module 'X' you must have passed module 'Y'.  Module 'Y' is called a pre-requisite.  Similarly, Colleges might stipulate that if you select a certain module you must pursue another related module during the same session. These are referred to as co-requisites.  On the other hand certain modules are labelled incompatibles, i.e. if you select one module, you are prevented from selecting another related module. You must ensure that you can comply with such requirements before selecting individual modules.

Module Levels

Each module will be assigned a level rating which reflects the academic standard of the module and gives an indication of the demands placed on you. For three year undergraduate programmes these would typically be Level 4, 5 and 6 (Years 1, 2, and 3), Postgraduate Taught Masters programmes would be Level 7, as would the modules in the final year of Advanced Initial Degrees (e.g. MEng, MMath).

You will be expected to progress from one level of study to another during the course of your study as applicable, developing your subject knowledge as you do so. 

The Intercalary Year, if you are going abroad to study, is termed Level S and Level E is used to describe a period in industry or work as a language assistant.

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