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Taught programme structure

Course structure

The Academic year at Brunel is based on three periods of study a year, beginning at the end of September. Postgraduates normally complete their dissertation during the summer following the second period of study. Part-time students will normally undertake some preparatory work for their dissertation usually during their first summer vacation.

Modular structure and credit accumulation

Most programmes are offered in a modular format and each module is credit-related by the University. Modules have a credit rating of multiples of five, with the dissertation usually valued at a minimum of 60 credits.

A total of at least 180 credits will normally be required to successfully complete most Master's courses, at least 120 credits for a Postgraduate Diploma, and a minimum of 60 credits for a Postgraduate Certificate.

The University also encourages students to register for individual modules. You may then use the credits acquired towards an award-bearing course at the University or elsewhere (credit accumulation and transfer). The University may grant some exemptions for admission to its own courses (at the discretion of the relevant course directors) on the basis of credits achieved or work completed elsewhere.

Students wishing to enter the University with credit exemptions for prior learning or experience should apply, in the first instance, to the Course Director. The University will not normally grant exemptions for more than half the taught credits required for an award of the University at postgraduate level.


Some modules may last a term, others will extend over two terms of the academic session. Most modules will be assessed when you have completed them, although you may be required to submit practical reports or coursework that contribute to your overall marks during a term.

The methods of assessment used can include written examinations, essays, reports, oral presentations and practicals.

Students registered for a Master's degree who do not complete the dissertation may be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma depending on the credits achieved.


Every candidate for a Master's degree must complete a written dissertation, usually of between 10,000 and 15,000 words, though it is sometimes more (according to the subject being undertaken). Students will usually be expected to have successfully completed the taught modules of their course before they may submit their dissertation.

The dissertation represents a detailed piece of research carried out by the student who, although supervised by a member of the academic staff, will be expected to work independently, to demonstrate sufficient mastery of the chosen topic and an appropriate ability in the organisation and presentation of the material. If students do not complete their dissertation by the deadline set, they may be permitted to register for a further period, although attendance at the University is not then compulsory.