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KIS record 2013/14

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KIS record 2013/14

Calculation of assessment methods and learning and teaching methods

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Version 1.3 Produced 2013-06-18

Information about assessment methods and learning and teaching methods is presented by year/stage of the course, this will not necessarily relate to the academic level of the activity undertaken in the year as many flexible courses will allow students to undertake activity at different levels in different years. Data for up to seven years/stages for each course can be presented. For part-time courses the year/stage split should be determined with reference to the full time pattern thus, a degree offered part-time only would still typically have the same number of stages as the FT equivalent course.

It is recognised that most undergraduate courses in the UK will contain an element of module choice for individual students and thus different students will experience a different mix of assessment methods and learning/teaching methods depending on their own individual choices. Nevertheless a single figure for each category is required on the KIS.

The proportions in each of the assessment methods and learning and teaching methods should be calculated based on the module choices of students in the 2012/13 academic year. The number of students on the course taking each module should be determined and modules with the highest number of students registered selected until one FTE (120 credits) worth of modules have been selected. The proportions reported in each method category will then reflect the proportions in the combination of the selected modules.

For example:

Module Credit value Number of students Proportion in scheduled teaching and learning Proportion in independent study Placement
Physics 1 30 100 60 40 0
Maths 1 30 100 50 50 0
Computing 1 20 100 30 70 0
Computing 2 10 40 30 70 0
Maths 2 30 30 40 60 0
Physics 2 20 20 Disregard - below FTE/credit threshold
Project 10 10 Disregard - below FTE/credit threshold

1. Determine the modules that are available to a KISCourse.

2. Rank in order of number of students taking the module as part of the course in the relevant year.

3. Determine the modules that contribute to 1 FTE/120 credits.

4. Calculate an average value from these modules.

For example, to calculate overall proportion in scheduled teaching and learning:

Overall proportion in scheduled teaching and learning = (Sum of (Credit value of module * Proportion in scheduled teaching and learning of module)) / 120

((30*60)+(30*50)+(20*30)+(10*30)+(30*40))/120 = 45

In some cases varying credit values of modules will mean that the above ordering leads to more than 120 credits worth of modules being included, where this occurs the learning and teaching methods and assessment methods for the last module included should be scaled back so that the total is 120 credits. For example, if 90 credits are covered by modules that are 100% written exam and the next most popular module is worth 60 credits and is 100% coursework the stage would be 90/120=75% written exam and (60*0.5)/120=25% coursework.

Where the process above leads to the inclusion of modules on which less than 10% of students are registered, institutions should make a reasonable judgement as to whether the selection of modules is representative. Equally, where the module selection is not representative, the institution should include an estimate of the typical pattern for students on the course. This situation might occur where, for example, students have a very large choice of modules most of which share a common study and assessment pattern, but where there are also a small number of modules with different patterns that individually are more popular than any of the more typical modules and so would be included in the calculation if the threshold did not exist, even though these do not represent a typical study and assessment pattern. This need to include estimates may also apply with a small core of modules of one pattern, and a larger number of modules with a different pattern as options, and including only modules above the 10% threshold would give a misleading picture for a course. Institutions should keep an audit trail of decisions made and methodology used.

For new or substantially revised courses actual module choices will not be known. Where actual choices are not known institutions should give the expected percentage based on course planning and approval documents as well as patterns from similar courses.

Where institutions have estimated the proportions either due to changes to the course or because proportions taking individual modules are very low this should be indicated in CourseStage.LTACT and CourseStage.ASSACT.

Where time is not associated with credit, e.g. zero credit placement modules or seminars not linked to a module, then the hours associated should be added to the numerator and denominator of the calculation. For example, if a course has 300 hours of scheduled learning and teaching activities, associated with credit, and a further 50 hours not associated with credit then 28% (350/1250) would be scheduled learning and teaching activities. It is assumed that 1 credit equates to 10 hours of study, and hence 120 credits completed is 1,200 hours .

For KIS purposes where conversion to hours is required, the convention that 1 CTS credit point equates to 10 notional study hours should be used, where ECTS are used the convention that one ECTS=2 CATS should be used, it follows that 1 ECTS is equivalent to 20 notional study hours.

Note that any 'office hours' where staff are available to students, but where this time is not individually scheduled, cannot be included in scheduled contact hours.

Where the time scheduled for an activity includes time to enable the students to travel between buildings, this should not be deducted from the total time in that activity. For example, if in an hour timetable slot the teaching typically lasts 50 minutes with 10 minutes scheduled to move between buildings, this would be recorded as 1 hour.

If courses have more than 120 credits per year as standard, then use the normal number of credits for the year in calculating percentages. This will not be shown on the KIS, but should be included in institutional documentation linked to in KISCourse.LTURL. For example if medical students are expected to take 140 credits in the year, the calculations should be based on 140 rather than 120 credits. Institutions will want to make this clear on their own web-pages.

International students should be included in the typical student calculations.

Where institutions are producing KISTYPE 3 because they have multiple subject courses that fall below the threshold for numbers of entrants and no single subject course exists, the proportions in each of the learning and teaching methods and assessment methods should be based on the modules with the largest number of students registered that add up to up to half an FTE (60 credits). It is recognised that where the split between subjects on multiple subject courses is not even this may lead to more or fewer modules being included than would be the case if the precise subject splits were used. In the first instance only modules taken by students studying multiple subject courses should be used and only those modules whose JACS subject matches the subject of the KIS should be included. Where considering only students taking joint honours courses leads to unreliable splits between the assessment methods and learning and teaching methods then students studying the subject as a single honours should also be included. There is no fixed rule as to how many students will be needed to ensure that the calculations are representative as this will depend on the degree of variation in the assessment methods and learning and teaching methods. Again, it is recognised that this may mean a small number of compulsory or very common but atypical modules are not included.

In general where the level of a KISTYPE 3 is first degree it should have 3 stages, where it is other undergraduate it should have 2. The KISTYPE 3 is not designed to give a detailed description of any programme, rather it is designed to give students a broad impression of what a multiple subject course in that subject might be like at each stage.


A student is taking a joint honours course in Mathematics and Philosophy for which subject level KIS are being produced. If the student takes 6 20 credit point modules with JACS codes of G110, G120, G300, V520, V550 and R100 then the modules with JACS codes G110, G120 and G300 would be included in the list from which those selected for calculation of assessment methods and learning and teaching methods for mathematical sciences subject based KIS are taken. Similarly, the modules with JACS codes V520 and V550 would be included in the calculation for the philosophy, theology and religious studies subject based KIS. The single module in French (R100) would not be included.

Where a module spans a stage, institutions should determine what proportion of the module falls into each stage, and then treat as a separate module in each year with the appropriate credit value. For example, a 30 credit module spans stages with 2/3 of the module falling in the first stage should be treated as a 20 credit module in stage 1 and a 10 credit module in stage 2. No attempt needs to be made to determine the actual learning and teaching methods or assessment methods used in each stage.

Learning and teaching methods

In determining the proportion of time spent in each type of activity it is expected that institutions will use the convention that one credit point equates to 10 learning hours. Given that the time in scheduled learning and teaching activities and placements is likely to be most accurately measured, it is expected that the proportion in guided independent study will typically be derived as the number of hours remaining after taking into account hours spent in placements and scheduled learning and teaching activities. In all cases the three percentages must sum to 100.

The QAA have compiled/developed an indicative list of learning and teaching methods, which is reproduced below. Before that, in the table is indicated how each of these methods should be categorised for the purpose of the KIS.

Further information regarding the QAA categories for learning and teaching methods can be found at

Activity type KIS category
Lecture Scheduled
Seminar Scheduled
Tutorial Scheduled
Project supervision Scheduled
Demonstration Scheduled
Practical classes and workshops Scheduled
Supervised time in studio/workshop Scheduled
Fieldwork Scheduled
External visits Scheduled
Guided independent study † Independent
Work based learning * Placement
Placement † Placement
Year abroad † Placement

* The definition has been modified from that used by the QAA and is consistent with that used in student support regulations.
† These categories are not included in the QAA list

The time spent on formative assessment should be included within the calculation of learning and teaching methods. The categories in which formative assessments are included within the learning and teaching activities will depend on their exact nature. For example, a class test may contribute to both scheduled learning and teaching activities (for the time spent taking the test) and guided independent study (for the time spent revising/preparing for the test).

Where course stages do not map neatly to student years, where the cohort sizes differ, simply using the numbers of students taking each module might lead to misleading results. In this case the proportion of students taking the module inbetween would need to be used instead. The example below shows how this would work for a course with 15 credit modules where students typically study at half an FTE and there are 80 students in the first year but only 25 in the second with 2 compulsory modules in each year, that is the first stage has 4 compulsory modules.


Student year Module Students Proportion of cohort Student year Module Students Proportion of cohort
1 M1 80 100 2 M3 25 100
1 M2 80 100 2 M4 25 100
1 O1 48 60 2 O5 20 80
1 O2 40 50 2 O6 15 60
1 O3 40 50 2 O7 10 40
1 O4 32 40 2 O8 5 20

Using student numbers alone would lead to the inclusion of modules M1, M2, O1, O2, O3, O4, M3 and M4. However, module O5 is actually taken by 80% of the students eligible to take it, using percentages the modules would be M1, M2, M3, M4, O5, O1, O6, and O2.


A presentation or talk on a particular topic.

The term 'lecture' covers everything from the traditional model, where a single member of the institution's staff or an affiliate1 introduces ideas or delivers facts to a group of students, to approaches that might be much more interactive, involve a variety of contributors, make use of a range of media and technologies, and take place virtually as well as in person. Lectures are assumed, in general, to involve larger groups of students than do seminars and tutorials but size will vary depending upon the nature of what is being taught, the size of the overall student cohort, and practical concerns.


A discussion or classroom session focusing on a particular topic or project.

Seminars are defined as sessions that provide the opportunity for students to engage in discussion of a particular topic and/or to explore it in more detail than might be covered in a lecture - the extent of interaction will depend on the delivery method. A typical model would involve a guided, tutor-led discussion in a small group. However, the term also encompasses student or peer-led classes with a staff member or affiliate present. As with lectures, use of technology means seminars may take place virtually. Seminars are assumed in general to involve smaller groups of students than lectures, but size will vary depending upon the nature of what is being taught, the size of the overall student cohort, and practical concerns.

Webinars should be categorised as guided independent study when a student can access them on demand. If a webinar is only available at a specific time, it should be included as scheduled learning.


A meeting involving one-to-one or small group supervision, feedback or detailed discussion on a particular topic or project.

Tutorials may be distinguished from seminars for the stronger emphasis that they place on the role of the tutor in giving direction or feedback. Tutorials can happen virtually as well as face-to-face.

Where feedback tutorials are scheduled in learning programmes (for example, following the return of marked coursework), they should be categorised as scheduled tutorials, otherwise, ad hoc one to one feedback should be regarded as guided independent study.

Project supervision

A meeting with a supervisor to discuss a particular piece of work.

The term 'project supervision' is used to refer to the meetings that a student or group of students would have with a supervisor, to plan, discuss, and monitor progress on a particular piece of work, such as a dissertation or extended project. Meetings can take place virtually or in person. The size of a project supervision meeting will depend upon the number of students involved in the work concerned, and the nature of that work but supervisions will frequently also take place on a one-to-one basis.


A session involving the demonstration of a practical technique or skill.

Examples might include the demonstration of laboratory skills, clinical skills, performance art or fieldwork techniques. Demonstrations can take place virtually or in person. The size of a demonstration is likely to depend upon the number of students involved in the work concerned, as well as the nature of that work, but could also take place on a one-to-one basis.

Practical classes and workshops

A session involving the development and practical application of a particular skill or technique.

Examples are wide ranging and could include a laboratory class, recital, artefact handling/identification, language conversation, sports match and so on. Practical classes and workshops might incorporate elements of teaching or guided learning, and they are at least likely to be supervised or observed. These sessions are more likely to take place in person but, depending on the nature of the subject, may also be conducted remotely.
The size of a practical class or workshop will depend upon the nature of the activity. Workshops are likely to involve at least a small group of students but practical classes could take place on a one-to-one basis.

Supervised time in studio/workshop

Time in which students work independently but under supervision, in a specialist facility such as a studio or workshop.

Examples might include time spent in an art or design studio, or in a rehearsal space such as a workshop theatre. It could be timetabled or take place on an ad hoc basis. Peers as well as staff or affiliates may be involved. Due to the nature of the activity, it is unlikely to take place virtually. Supervised time in a studio/workshop might involve a group or individual.


Practical work conducted at an external site.

Examples of fieldwork might include survey work and other forms of data collection, excavations and explorations. The work might be unsupervised or supervised, and supervision could be provided by staff or appointed representatives. Some fieldwork may be conducted virtually. Fieldwork might be conducted in groups of various sizes, or by individuals, depending on the nature of the work involved.

External visits

A visit to a location outside of the usual learning spaces, to experience a particular environment, event, or exhibition relevant to the course of study.

Examples are wide ranging and could include a visit to a business or industrial site, built environment site, museum or collection, to attendance at a performance or exhibition. These visits might be unsupervised or supervised, and supervisors could include staff or appointed representatives. Site visits may be carried out in groups of varying sizes, or by individuals, depending on the nature of the visit and the location.

Guided independent study

Higher education is distinguished from general and secondary education by its focus on independent learning. Scheduled learning and teaching activities typically feature alongside time in which students are expected to study independently, which may itself be 'guided'.

Guided independent study might include preparation for scheduled sessions, follow-up work, wider reading or practice, completion of assessment tasks, revision, etc. The relative amounts of time that students are expected to spend engaged in scheduled activities and guided independent study varies between courses.

Webinars should be categorised as guided independent study when a student can access them on demand. If a webinar is only available at a specific time, it should be included as scheduled learning.

In all cases, students are expected to be responsible for their own learning, with appropriate support being provided by the institution.

Such support can be via a variety of means, including, for example, through the provision of study skills training, feedback on assessed work, access to libraries and learning spaces, language skills training, etc.

Distance learning will generally be guided independent study.

Work-based learning

Structured learning that takes place in the workplace.

The definition given below differs from that included in the QAA list.

Work-based learning is a core feature of foundation degrees and may also occur in other programmes. Work-based learning is a structured academic programme, controlled by the higher or further education institution, and delivered in the workplace by academic staff of the institution, staff of the employer, or both.

Unlike work experience, which can be one element of a course such as a sandwich placement (whether for the whole or part of a year), work-based learning is at the heart of a student's learning programme and must be subject to the same level of academic supervision and rigour as any other form of assessed learning. It includes:

  • the imparting of relevant knowledge and skills to students
  • opportunities for students to discuss knowledge and skills with their tutors
  • assessment of students' acquisition of knowledge and skills by the institution's academic staff, and perhaps jointly with an employer.

Work-based learning should be regarded as substituting for learning that under other circumstances would normally take place within the institution. The inclusion of an element of work-based learning should, therefore, not extend the normal duration of a course. Learning in the work place or other placements that do not meet the definition of work-based learning given above should be treated as placements for the purposes of the KIS.


Learning away from the institution that is neither a year abroad nor work based learning.

The term covers any learning, other than years abroad and work-based learning, that takes place through an organised work opportunity, rather than in a university or college setting, and includes managed placements. Some supervision or monitoring is likely be involved, and may be carried out either by a member of staff or a mentor within the host organisation. Due to the nature of the activity, placements are unlikely to take place virtually. Students might undertake placements individually or in groups, depending on the nature of the workplace and the learning involved.

Teaching placements in medical and nursing courses should be treated as placements.

Where the total number of hours on placement exceeds 10 hours per credit, the total number of hours should be capped at 10 hours per credit.

Where external requirements dictate that students should spend significantly more than 10 hours per credit in placements, then these extra hours should be added to the numerator and denominator in the same way as other non-credit bearing, yet compulsory, activities.

If a course requires students to undertake one of two placements the two placements should be treated as if they were a single module. It may be appropriate to adopt the same approach where other modules are offered in a way that means students must take one, and only one, module out of a choice of many. In these cases it will normally be appropriate to only include the most popular of these modules.

Where a clinical placement contains a significant proportion of scheduled activity the placement element can be further broken down to reflect this. For example, if as part of a 30 credit placement module students are expected to spend 50 hours in scheduled activities such as tutorials the module would be split with 250 hours classified as 'placement' and the remaining 50 as 'scheduled'.

Year abroad

Any study that occurs overseas.

This should include any study that occurs overseas whether for all or part of a year. Where only part of the year is studied abroad it should be weighted accordingly in determining the learning and teaching methods for the year.

Assessment methods

In determining the percentage of assessment in each category only summative assessments should be included. The time spent on formative assessment should be included within the calculation of learning and teaching methods. Summative assessment is an assessment that leads to the award of credit or is required for progression even if does not ultimately affect the outcome of the award e.g. class of degree.

Where a student is required to undergo assessments but there is not a notional credit value associated with the assessment, for example, a skills test which the student must pass, these assessments should not be included within the calculation but their presence should be noted in KISCourse.NONCREDITASSESS and the nature of the assessments should be described in the web page linked to by KISCourse.ASSURL. Assessments that are included within the mark scheme for a module will typically have notional credit associated with them.

The rules regarding additional activity that is not credit rated are intended to cover activity that students are required or expected to undertake. If the non-credit activity is optional and has assessments associated with it these should not be included within the calculation of learning and teaching methods and will not impact the KISCourse.NONCREDITASSESS field. If however, the modules are compulsory then the KISCourse.NONCREDITASSESS field should be completed accordingly.

The QAA have compiled/developed an indicative list of assessment methods, which is reproduced below. In the table below is indicated how each of these methods should be categorised for the purpose of the KIS. Note that peer assessment is not categorised as a separate assessment method rather notional credit associated with peer assessment should be included within the assessment type that the peers are assessing. For example, if peer assessment is of a presentation then this should be treated as a practical exam as presentations are treated as practical exams.

Performances in the performing arts context, should be classed as practical assessment. As examination of practical skills of individual students (or possibly groups of students) takes place as a 'one off' by an examiner, either through observation of a live performance or through the review of a recorded performance.

Further information regarding the QAA catagories for assessment methods can be found at

For the purposes of the KIS, if a degree comprises of work in the form of sketchbooks, large scale design work, exhibitions or portfolios, produced in either a classroom or self-study environment it should be included as coursework, not practical assessment. This includes work that counts towards continuous or examinable work.

Activity type KIS category
Written exam Written
Written assignment, including essay Coursework
Report Coursework
Dissertation Coursework
Portfolio Coursework
Project output (other than dissertation) Coursework
Oral assessment and presentation Practical
Practical skills assessment Practical
Set exercise Varies - see notes

Written exam

A question or set of questions relating to a particular area of study.

Written exams usually occur at the end of a period of learning and assess whether students have achieved the intended learning outcomes. They may be 'seen', where the student is aware in advance of the question(s) they are expected to answer, or 'unseen', where the questions are only revealed 'on the day'. In an 'open-book' exam, a student is allowed to use a selection of reference materials during the assessment. The questions asked as part of a written exam may be essay, short answer, problem or multiple-choice. Written exams usually (but not always) take place under timed conditions.

Exams that are taken home should be counted as coursework, as the associated conventions of examinations (such as time constraints and authenticity of students' work) do not apply.

Written assignment, including essay

An exercise completed in writing.

Written exercises that typically have deadlines attached but which are not carried out under timed conditions. A well-known example is the essay, where students are required to write about a particular topic or answer a question in depth. Other examples include written briefings on particular topics.


A description, summary or other account of an experience or activity.

There are many different kinds of report - often students are required to produce a report after participating in a practical activity such as fieldwork, laboratory work, work experience or placement. Reports typically have a prescribed format.


An extended piece of written work, often the write-up of a final-year project.

A dissertation is a substantial piece of writing deriving from research that a student has undertaken. Dissertations are the result of a student's independent work, carried out under the guidance of a supervisor. Different subject areas may follow different conventions in relation to the production of dissertations. (Note that other outputs from projects are listed separately).


A collection of work that relates to a given topic or theme, which has been produced over a period of time.

Typically, a portfolio contains a number of pieces of work, usually connected by a topic or theme. Students are usually required to organise the collection of examples and the portfolio often includes some reflective accounts (diaries/logs). Examples include, in education, that students may collect in a portfolio essays around particular teaching methods, lesson plans, teaching materials that they have developed and a report about the teaching experience itself. For the purposes of the KIS, examples also include the creative arts portfolio which may contain a strong practical element.

Project output (other than dissertation)

Output from project work, often of a practical nature, other than a dissertation or written report.

Students are assessed on the output of a period of project work (other than in the form of a dissertation or written report). Examples are diverse and include a piece of artwork, a new product or a poster.

Oral assessment and presentation

A conversation or oral presentation on a given topic, including an individual contribution to a seminar.

Examples of oral assessments and presentations might include conversations, discussions, debates, presentations and individual contributions to seminars. This category would also include the viva voce exam which is typically used by institutions in specific circumstances such as clarifying assessment decisions reached via other means.

Practical skills assessment

Assessment of a student's practical skills or competence.

Practical skills assessment focuses on whether, and/or how well, a student performs a specific practical skill or technique (or competency). Examples include clinical skills, laboratory techniques, identification of or commentary on artwork, surveying skills, language translation, listening comprehension, music, dance or drama performances and so on.

Set exercises

Questions or tasks designed to assess the application of knowledge, analytical, problem-solving or evaluative skills.

Examples might include data interpretation, data analysis exercises and problem-based or problem-solving exercises. The categorisation of set exercises will depend on the nature of the exercise being set. Typically, set exercises will not be conducted under exam conditions and will therefore normally be coursework. Where the set exercise is performed under exam conditions and does not involve the use of practical skills it should be treated as a written exam. Otherwise it should be a practical exam.

1A lecturer, researcher, technician, member of support staff or Graduate Teaching Assistant of the institution or a visiting or external specialist.

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