Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-19, Analytic Quality Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 23 January, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2019.


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core definition

Course refers to either a programme of study or a subunit of a programme of study.

explanatory context

Course is an imprecise term as in some settings it refers to the whole programme of study and in others it refers to a module or other subunit of a programme of study. Thus course and programme are not interchangeable.

analytical review

Charles Sturt University, Division of Student Administration (2011) uses 'course' to mrean a whole programme of study:

Course: An approved sequence of subjects; or an approved sequence of subjects together with industrial, practical or clinical experience and/or co-operative study arrangements, and/or an investigation of an approved topic the results of which are presented in a dissertation; or an approved program of research the results of which are presented in a thesis; leading to an award.

The Graduate Recruitment Bureau (2011) sees a course as the same as a programme, it states:

Modular courses: Many universities divide degree courses into modules. Students are required to pass a certain number of modules to complete a programme.

Sadler (2011) defines course as a subunit of a programme:

term 'course' refers to a unit of study that forms the basic component of a degree 'programme', often being taught over a fixed period of time such as one semester.


This is similar to what the Common Data Set (2010) describes as a credit course in the U.S.:

Credit course: A course that, if successfully completed, can be applied toward the number of courses required for achieving a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.

The Indiana College Network (2007) also indicates that a course is a unit of a programme of study:

credit course: a class with specified learning goals which the student is required to meet in order to pass the course and that may be applied toward the fulfillment of degree requirements at a college or university.

undergraduate course: a credit course that may be applied to an undergraduate degree (that is, a two-year college degree, often referred to as an associate's degree, or a four-year college degree, often referred to as a bachelor's degree).

The Manual of the University Quality Assurance International Board of Dubai (2012, p. 3) defines course as:

The smallest unit of study that bears credit hours or credit points and into which a student may enrol. A programme is made up of a number of courses. Courses may also be known as units, modules. papers or subjects.

associated issues

related areas

See also



programme specification


Charles Sturt University, Division of Student Administration, 2011, Glossary of Terms, available at accessed 31 January 2011, not available 6 July 2012.

Common Data Set of U.S. Higher Education Terminology, 2010, Glossary, available at, updated 10 November 2010, accessed 6 July 2012.

Graduate Recruitment Bureau, 2011, Higher Education Glossary, available at, acessed 6 July 2012.

Indiana College Network (ICN), 2007, ‘Glossary' available at, updated 15 February 2007, accessed 6 July 2012.

Sadler, R., 'Academic freedom, achievement standards and professional identity' Quality in Higher Education, 17(1), pp. 103–18.

University Quality Assurance International Board [of Dubai], 2012, Quality Assurance Manual, version 1.6, June 2012.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2019

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