Semesterisation and modularisation

You might have heard whispers about ‘semesterisation’ and ‘modularisation’. Here’s what they are, and what they mean for you.

What is semesterisation?

At the moment our academic year is split into three ten-week terms: Autumn, Spring and Summer. We’re changing this to two 16-week semesters, either side of a three-week Christmas break.

Exceptions: Some courses - typically those which include professional placements - will be structured differently. You should check with your department to see what’s planned for your course.

Why are we introducing semesters?

Semesters help us to balance your workload across the year. Each semester will consist of:

  • One week for induction
  • 11 weeks of teaching
  • Four weeks for assessments

Semesters will align our academic year with lots of other institutions, including many universities overseas. This could make it easier for you to find opportunities to study abroad, and to take up placements and internships.

What is modularisation?

On your course you’ll study lots of modules covering different topics and skills. At the moment these come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, from short five-credit modules, all the way up to 40-credit modules that might run across two or three terms.

We’re standardising the size of modules to 20 credits. Most students will study three 20-credit modules each semester.

Exceptions: Capstone modules (for example, dissertations and other major projects) are not limited to 20 credits, and may run over more than one semester.

Why are we standardising modules?

Standard module shapes and sizes mean you know what to expect each semester. You’ll be better-able to plan your time and manage your workload.

Did you know? One credit represents around ten hours of learning. This includes contact time, independent study and time for assessment.

This also makes it much easier for our departments to collaborate on courses which bridge disciplines. This will provide you with a more diverse range of topics to study, broadening your knowledge and allowing you to learn specialist skills which could support your career goals.

When are things changing?

We’re introducing these changes to modules and timetables in September 2023.

Returning students:

  • If you started your course in September 2020 or earlier, you’ll only be affected if you complete your course in 2023/24 or later.

New students:

  • If you’re starting in September 2021 and you’re on a course of three or more years in length, you should expect changes from your third year onwards.
  • If you start in September 2022 and you’re on a course of two or more years in length, you should expect changes from your second year onwards.
  • If you start in September 2023 or later then you’ll have semesters and standardised modules for the duration of your course.

Our departments are busy designing and updating modules to fit the 20-credit standard. We expect to be able to show you revised course structures by Autumn 2022.

What do the changes mean for you?

Depending on your course’s current structure, you’ll see varying levels of change.

The most obvious changes will be to the start and end dates of the academic year, and the timings of vacations and breaks. Semester One will start earlier than our current Autumn Term, and the undergraduate summer vacation (and postgraduate summer teaching period) will start earlier too. Each Semester will include a short break, giving you time away from your studies to revise and relax.

We’ll announce the new semester dates when they’re confirmed later in the year.

If your course offers option modules, you might see an expanded range to choose from, including those offered by other departments. You may also see changes to the number of choices available to you. You'll still be able to tailor your course with a range of modules allowing you to broaden your academic horizons and focus on specialist subjects.

Importantly, we’ll continue to offer modules based on our research strengths, ensuring that you study a wide range of subjects, designed and delivered by experts in their field.