Degree Course Structure

Awards

The University awards the following first degrees:

  • Bachelor of Engineering BEng
  • Bachelor of Science BSc
  • Bachelor of Arts BA
  • Bachelor of Music BMus
  • Bachelor of Laws LLB

Integrated Masters degrees such as Master of Engineering MEng, and Foundation years in Engineering and Information Technology are also offered.

Degree classification

First degrees are usually awarded with honours, classified into first class, second class (with upper and lower divisions) or third class. You are admitted on the assumption that you will normally achieve an honours degree

Some Schools offer a less demanding ordinary degree course if your performance proves not to be of honours standard before the final year.

Course Structure

Brunel’s course structure is based on three periods of study per year. There are two teaching terms of 12 weeks each – the first runs from September to December, and the second runs from January to Easter. There is then a third, shorter term for revision, examination and assessment.

Students who take a four‑year sandwich course will spend a further period in either one or two work placements. Tables A, B and C (below) summarise this structure.

There are some exceptions, for example:

  • Education: courses leading to a recommendation for Qualified Teacher Status have a different structure.
  • Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Specialist Community Public Health Nursing: students taking these BSc courses may have some periods of clinical work experience during vacations.
  • Social Work: students on the BA course spend a proportion of each year in the field.


Three-years full-time

Students study for six academic terms with a standard summer vacation.

Table A

Year Term 1
(Sept-Dec)

Term 2
(Jan-Easter)

Term 3
(Easter-May)
Summer
1 Academic Period 1
Academic Period 2
Assessment Vacation
2 Academic Period 3
Academic Period 4
Assessment Vacation
3 Academic Period 5
Academic Period 6
Assessment Vacation

Four-years thick-sandwich

Students spend the whole of Year 3 on placement.

Table B

Year Term 1
(Sept-Dec)

Term 2
(Jan-Easter)

Term 3
(Easter-May)
Summer
1
Academic Period 1
Academic Period 2
Assessment Vacation
2 Academic Period 3
Academic Period 4
Assessment Vacation
3 Work Placement
4 Academic Period 5
Academic Period 6
Assessment -

Four-years thin-sandwich

Students spend two periods on work placements, which are likely to extend through the summer vacation. (If you are taking a course approved by a professional institution, longer periods of work experience may give exemptions from some membership requirements.)

Table C

Year Term 1
(Sept-Dec)

Term 2
(Jan-Easter)

Term 3
(Easter-May)
Summer
1 Academic Period 1
Academic Period 2
Assessment Work Placement 1
2 Work Placement 1
Academic Period 3
Assessment Vacation
3 Academic Period 4
Work Placement 2
4 Academic Period 5
Academic Period 6
Assessment -

Placements

Professional experience and accreditation

If you choose the four-year thick-sandwich or thin-sandwich course you will have the opportunity to acquire valuable practical skills through extended work experience as an integral part of your course. The sandwich placement is assessed, and is worth 120 credits.

Whatever your career interest, you will find that graduate employers place a high value on relevant work experience, frequently rating it above even degree classification as a selection criterion.

Finding the right sandwich placement

Your academic tutor and the Placement Officers based in the Placement and Careers Centre will help you in your search for suitable placements and give guidance on the kind of experience best suited to your needs, but the responsibility for finding a placement is yours.

A placement should take account of your degree course, knowledge and previous experience. We try to ensure that you are engaged in work which is relevant to your degree, appropriate to your level of ability and that you are given as much variety of experience as is practicable.

A tutor will remain in touch with you throughout your placement and you will usually be supervised by a senior person in the establishment concerned.

Placement salaries

You may be paid a salary by the organisation during your placement periods. Although you are unlikely to earn enough to fully finance yourself through the academic study periods, you may be able to offset a significant part of the cost of living. This could reduce the amount you need to borrow as a student loan.

Transferring to a different mode of study

If you are registered for a sandwich course but have problems obtaining suitable placements, you may be able to transfer to a different mode of study. For example, you may be able to switch to a full-time mode from a thick-sandwich mode at the end of Level 2. Options vary from course to course, depending on the availability of different modes - check the programme specification for your course when you register.

Opportunities for sponsorship

Sponsored students usually have an established relationship with one organisation during their course, so they become familiar with the entire range of its activities. Many sponsoring organisations pay a bursary to their students during university-based periods, and there is often the opportunity to remain with the sponsoring company as a graduate.

Some of Brunel’s degree programmes encourage applicants to look for a sponsor prior to, or soon after, joining their course. Individual admissions tutors should be able to advise you on how to go about this.

Accreditation by professional institutions

Professional bodies accredit degree courses which they deem suitable for gaining admission to their ranks, and a large number of Brunel’s courses are validated by these bodies.

Aside from an accredited degree, membership requirements normally include a period of training in the relevant discipline. For Brunel students on sandwich courses, periods of work placement can contribute between six and sixteen months towards such training requirements, giving you accelerated entry to your chosen profession.

Your School will help to ensure that any eligible work experience is registered towards accreditation, and you can check with your Admissions Tutor about requirements in your particular subject area.

Each course entry shows whether the course has accreditation.

Joint Honours & Part Time

Joint honours degrees

Many subjects can be combined as a joint honours programme, and these are listed in the Course Finder. The proportion of credits you will be expected to attain in each subject varies according to your programme specification but, for a joint honours course rated at 360 credits, you must take a minimum of 160 credits in each of the two subjects.

Part-time courses

Some degree programmes are available on a part-time basis – this is indicated under each course entry. As a part-time student you will normally take up to 80 credits in an academic year, though you may be able to vary this according to your personal circumstances.

Modular Structure

All Brunel’s courses have been designed so that they are made up of study and assessment blocks (modules) worth 10 to 30 credits each. Levels 3 and 4 may include a major project, worth up to 40 credits. You will build these modules up, usually gaining at least 120 credits per year, until you complete at least 360 credits to achieve an Honours degree.

There are some exceptions to this pattern:

  • Those undertaking an MEng qualification will study for a further year. This year, Level 4, will include advanced modules and group projects.
  • If you do not complete your degree programme, you may be eligible to receive a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) with 120 credits or a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) with 240 credits.
  • Periods of work placement that form an integral part of your degree programme attract up to 120 further credits and may lead to a separate award title (although this does not apply to Education).
  • Since each module has a credit value, Brunel is able to participate in national and international credit accumulation and transfer schemes.

Visit the Learning and Assessment page to find out how your course will be delivered.

Choosing modules

Within the programme specification for your course, you may be able either to broaden the range of topics you study or to specialise in one particular area. Most degree courses contain compulsory modules in order to maintain the coherence of the course or to meet the requirements of professional institutions. However, you may also be able to select other modules.

Language modules may be available for credit on your course, or you may choose to take them for additional credit which does not contribute to your award (or just for fun!).

You select modules before the beginning of each level. Your tutor can advise you about the choices available, and there are, of course, academic constraints to ensure that you do not follow a module for which you do not have the proper grounding. Occasionally, your timetable will also limit your choice.


Page last updated: Friday 20 September 2013