Semester-based systems are generally acknowledged to improve the student learning experience and allow more flexibility in access and course delivery. The semesterisation project will also lay the foundations for further modernisation of the university such as the introduction of credit accumulation and further enhancement of technology-enabled learning. It will also support opportunities for income generation, including Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and will facilitate more international and exchange student possibilities.
The decision to change to a formal semester-based system originates in the 2009-2012 Strategic Plan in which the university set out to “enhance the curriculum to achieve optimum flexible delivery, accessibility and credit accumulation”. The principles for Semesterisation were approved by Academic Council. An Implementation Working Group has been established with representation from each College. Colleges are encouraged to establish suitable internal structures to enable Semesterisation.
How will it impact on the University?
Semesterisation will impact almost everything we do.
The most obvious impact will be changes to the structure of the academic year. There will be a slightly earlier start to the academic year and two formal examination periods: winter (pre-Christmas) and summer. These changes will have a far reaching footprint and will impact in some way on all areas of the University.
When will examinations take place?
The change in the structure of the academic year will facilitate the examination of modules completed in either Semester 1 (previously called TP1) or Semester 2 (previously called TP2) at the end of the relevant teaching period. The majority of modules in UCC were already taught in either TP1 or TP2 and many were already assessed within a single teaching period.
Under the new academic year structure, it is expected that the majority of modules will be taught and assessed within a single semester unless there is a compelling practical or pedagogical reason for teaching a module across more than one semester. Some modules, such as projects, dissertations and clinical or work placements, are unlikely to be split into two or more modules.
What are the advantages of end of semester examination?
Advantages of providing for an examination period at the end of both teaching periods, include:
- Giving students and programme co-ordinators better knowledge of student progress in their studies. This should have a positive impact on student retention.
- Greater distribution of the student workload throughout the academic year.
- Encouraging better student engagement in their studies earlier in the academic year, particularly in those modules assessed by final examination only. The present system facilitates “cramming” for examinations at the end of the academic year.
- Reducing the pressure on students. With a split examination period their performance and results will not be dependent on a single month of the year.
- Allowing the introduction of a credit accumulation system that provides the flexibility required to achieve the goals of the Strategic Plan:
Greater flexibility in programme design
Greater flexibility in increasing modes of student access to University education.
- Facilitate more International and exchange student possibilities.
- With semesterisation, UCC may apply for a European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) label. However there is a requirement for a 50/50 workload split between semesters 1 and 2.