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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education


​​​​​QAA terms explained

This glossary explains terms that are frequently used in our work and publications.

Click on the appropriate letter(s) to find​​​ your required explanation.​

This glossary is also available in Welsh. Mae'r eirfa hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg​​.

  • management information

    ​​Information collected for purposes of monitoring and reviewing academic standards and quality, which is used to inform management decision-making.

  • marking scheme

    ​​A detailed framework for assigning marks, where a specific number of marks is given to individual components of the answer.

  • master of arts, master of science

  • master's degree

    A higher education qualification, typically lasting at least one year, characterised by a greater depth of study and specialisation than a bachelor's programme, located at level 7 in The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, at level 7 in the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales, and at level 11 in the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework.

    Examples include the Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degrees.

  • moderation

    A process intended to assure that an assessment outcome is fair and reliable and that assessment criteria have been applied consistently. See also double marking.​
  • modes of study

    Different ways of studying, such as full-time, part-time, e-learning or work-based learni​ng.​
  • modular

    Made up of modules.​
  • module

    ​​A self-contained, formally structured unit of study, with a coherent and explicit set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria. Some institutions use the word 'course' to refer to individual modules.​
  • multiple awards

    ​​​​​​​​An arrangement where three or more degree-awarding bodies together provide a single jointly delivered programme (or programmes) leading to a separate award (and separate certification) of each awarding body. The arrangement is the same as for dual/double awards, but with three or more awarding bodies being involved.​
  • no confidence judgement

    See confidence judgement.​
  • notional hours of learning

    The number of hours that (it is expected) a learner at a particular level will spend, on average, to achieve the specified learning outcomes at that level. ​
  • operational definition

    A formal definition of a term, establishing exactly what QAA means when using it in reviews and reports.​
  • operational description

    ​​A detailed explanation of how a review method works.

  • Ordinary degree

    ​A bachelor's degree located at level 6 of The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and level 9 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework, which typically requires a student to achieve the learning outcomes of a smaller volume of study than that expected for a bachelor's degree with honours.

  • outcomes

    ​​​​​​​​See learning outcomes. See also our publications on outcomes from our reviews. ​