Analytic Quality Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2004-22, 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 20 January, 2022 , © Lee Harvey 2004–2022.


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core definition

A semester is a division of the academic year; usually two semesters in a year.

explanatory context

Academic years are usually divided into terms (for example, in the Northern hemisphere, autum, spring and summer) or in some settings into semesters, which tend to be longer periods than terms although often broken by holidays (such as Christmas or Easter in Western Europe). There are usually two semesters a year but in some situations, where the programme is taught intensively, a third semester is added (usually over what would otherwise have been the long holiday period).

analytical review

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) of Ireland defines it as:

A subdivision of the academic year, one of the two into which it has been divided. (HEA, 2004)


The Higher Education Funding Council for England's (HEFCE) (undated) definition is:

A study period of up to 16 weeks, often with the last two weeks used as an assessment period.


The Northeast Texas Consortium (2002) define semester as:

A period of study of approximately 15-16 weeks, usually half of the academic year (fall and spring semesters).

associated issues


related areas

See also

academic year


Higher Education Authority (HEA) [of Ireland] 2004, Glossary, no longer available, 29 January 2011.

Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE ), undated, Glossary, available at, this is a new address, the original page was last updated 8 November 2010 but the new page is undated, accessed 9 September 2012, still available 31 December 2016.

Northeast Texas Network Consortium (NTNC), 2002, Distance Learning College Glossary. , accessed 20 September 2012, still available 11 January 2017.

copyright Lee Harvey 2004–2022

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