A female student strolling and reading a book along the book shelving area in Staffordshire University library

Higher education glossary

We've tried to avoid using jargon but in case there is a term or description in this prospectus that you don't understand we've put together this glossary to help you out. 

Academic year

This is the University's teaching year. It begins in September and ends the following summer.


The Admissions team manage the student admission process, from enrolment to enquiries.


An award is the qualification granted when you complete an approved course of study.

BA (Hons)/BSc (Hons)/BEng (Hons)

The 'B' stands for Bachelor and is what people refer to as an undergraduate degree. A Bachelor degree normally involves three years of full-time study. The 'Hons' is a shortened version of Honours. 'BEng' refers to engineering-based subjects. 'BSc' refers to science-based subjects. 'BA' refers to arts-based subjects.


A financial grant that is given to eligible students. A bursary does not need to be repaid.

Core module

A core module is a mandatory part of your course. You must complete your core modules to complete your award.

Course (of study)

The approved set of modules taken by an individual student to receive a qualification.


A numerical value given to each module as a measure of its size and the amount of learning required to complete the module. (The higher the credit, the harder and more important the module).


An 'academic discipline' or field of study is a branch of knowledge taught and researched as part of Higher Education.

Foundation degree

A foundation degree is a combined academic and vocational qualification in higher education. It equals two-thirds of an honours bachelor's degree.

Foundation year

An extra year of study at the start of a university course.

Dissertation or Final-Year Project

A project usually taken in the final year of your course, where you explore a specific topic in great depth.

Two-year accelerated degree

A two-year accelerated course lets you complete a full degree qualification in two years. They can save you time and money, and get you into the job market sooner.

Integrated Masters

An Integrated Masters degree combines undergraduate and postgraduate study into a single course. This is usually either a four- or five-year course.

Joint Honours degree

This lets you follow a broader course of study in two subjects. You can study the subjects in equal parts, or you can study one more than the other.


Lectures teach you about key issues and direct you to relevant resources. They tend not to be interactive and can include up to 200 students. They provide a valuable tool in learning the basics of a topic.


This refers to your academic level of study. Normally, it corresponds to one year of study for full-time students. A three-year undergraduate degree consists of Levels 4, 5 and 6. Students may take modules from different levels at the same time, as long as they meet the requirements for their award.


Masters awards are the next level up from a Bachelors degree. These usually take another year of full-time study after your undergraduate degree.


A module is an area of study within a course. A module is usually worth 30 credits. To complete an undergraduate honours degree, you need to gain 360 credits. Modules will either be 'core modules' or 'option modules'.

Option Module

This is a module that you get to choose from a list of options. You will study them in conjunction with the Core Modules for a particular course.

Offer Holder Day

Open Days for students who have received an offer from Staffordshire University. They give you first-hand experience of university life.

Placement Sandwich Year

This is a period (normally a year) taken out from your studies and spent on placement in business, industry or workplace. The purpose is to give you experience and develop your learning in a practical setting. A Placement Sandwich Year adds to the length of your degree course.

Practice Learning

If you're studying Nursing, Operating Department Practice or Midwifery Practice, you will spend 50% of your time working in 'real-life' environments. This can include hospital wards and community settings to specialist units this is what we call Practice Learning.


A School consists of a group of subject areas in the University. For example the School of Computing and Digital Technologies.


An amount of money awarded to a student - usually based on academic eligibility criteria.


The academic year is divided into several semesters that each serves as a period of study. Semesters can include periods of induction, learning, assessment and academic counselling.


These are smaller groups than lectures. They allow you to discuss topics and develop your knowledge with more depth and nuance.

Single Honours Degree

An award that lets you specialise in one specific area of study.

Top-up Award

A course, normally of 12 or 18 months, designed to convert your HND or foundation degree into an honours degree.

Undergraduate Student

Someone who is studying at University for a bachelors/undergraduate degree, as opposed to a Masters or other degree.

in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021