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safeguarding standards and improving the quality of UK higher education

Characteristics Statements

​​Qualification Characteristics Statements are pa​rt of the Quality Code - Part A: Setting and maintaining academic standards.

Qualifications Characteristics Statements describe the distinctive features of a qualification at a particular level within the Qualifications Frameworks​. They describe the qualification in terms of its particular purpose, general characteristics and generic outcomes, but do not include subject level detail. They are intended to support and contextualise the Qualifications Frameworks and, where relevant, they complement the qualification descriptors provided in the frameworks.  

Doctoral degrees

The Doctoral Degree Characteristics Statement describes the distinctive features of the doctoral degree in the UK. This latest edition of the Statement becomes a reference point for the purposes of QAA reviews conducted from 1 August 2016. For reviews conducted before 1 August 2016, the previous edition continues to apply: Doctoral Degree Characteristics, September 2011 (PDF, 115 KB).

The UK Doctorate: A Guide for Current and Prospective Candidates (PDF, 170 KB)​ answers key questions that candidates might wish to ask about doing a doctorate in the UK.

The Status of the Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) (PDF, 171KB) describes the distinctive features and the current status of the DBA in the UK.

Master's degrees ​

The Master's​ Degree Characteristics Statement describes the distinctive features of the master's degree in the UK. This latest edition of the Statement becomes a reference point for the purposes of QAA reviews conducted from 1 August 2016. For reviews conducted before 1 August 2016, the previous edition continues to apply: Master's Degree Characteristics, March 2010 (PDF, 149 KB).

Foundation degrees

The Foundation Degree Characteristics Statement describes the distinctive features of the foundation degree in the UK. This third edition of the Statement replaces the Foundation Degree Qualification Benchmark and becomes a reference point for the purposes of reviews coordinated by QAA from 1 August 2016. For reviews conducted before 1 August 2016, the previous edition continues to apply: Foundation Degree Qualification Benchmark, May 2010 (PDF, 121 KB).

Degree Apprenticeships

We will be developing a statement about the characteristics of apprenticeships involving HE qualifications, to add to the Quality Code’s suite of characteristics statements. Work on this statement is expected to start in 2017/18. In the meantime, we have published a document, Quality Assuring Higher Education in Apprenticeships: Current Approaches​, exploring current approaches to the quality assurance of HE in apprenticeships.

Qualifications involving more than one degree-awarding body

The Qualifications Involving More Than One Degree-Awarding Body Characteristics Statement describes the distinctive features of these types of awards.