Credit point system
In higher education, credit point systems enable degree programs and academic achievements to be quantified. Quantification is based on the learning load, i.e. the average assumed time taken to successfully complete a specific academic achievement. This quantification is expressed in credit points (CP), or credits for short.
The credit point system applied at Osnabrück University is compatible with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). It is based on the specifications and resolutions of the German Rectors Conference (HRK), the Conference of the Ministers of Education (KMK) and the Higher Education Framework Act (HRG).
In order for new Bachelor’s or Master’s programs to be accredited and approved, it must be proven that the degree program is modularized and works on the basis of a credit point system.
In detail, this means that study modules correspond to a certain number of credit points, depending on the type of course and associated expectations. On average, study modules consist of two to four courses. The credit point approach for all study obligations is based on the estimated workload, and may not exceed 60 CP per year (computation factor: one CP corresponds to around 30 hours of work). A certain number of credit points is stipulated for individual subjects, interdisciplinary areas, internships and the final thesis, depending on the degree program and study variant. Credit points for individual courses are calculated bearing in mind students’ average learning load. Credit points are awarded if an examination is passed or proof of a study achievement is provided. Credit points represent the quantitative expression of duly pursued studies. They reflect the status, rigor and scope of studies.
Examination procedure, proof of academic achievement and grading
Examinations are taken throughout the course of Dual Major Bachelor’s Degrees, disciplinary postgraduate Master’s programs and the ‘Master of Education’. Since students take examinations throughout the degree program, it is usually unnecessary to take complex final examinations in the traditional sense.
This means that, depending on the rules pertaining to the particular subject, most examination achievements in Bachelor’s programs are performed in the course of the program.Depending on the rules pertaining to the particular subject, most examination achievements in specialist Master’s programs are also acquired in the course of the degree program.
Due to state specifications, a maximum of 50% of all examination achievements in Master of Education programs can be acquired in the course of the degree program. The other 50% must be acquired in final examinations.
The study modules to be completed in the course of the program are generally connected to a proof of academic achievement, proven in the form of a study or examination achievement. Both forms are relevant to the completion of the degree by way of the grades achieved and the credit points gained.
A proof of study is connected to academic achievements that are graded or assessed with a pass or a fail. Forms of achievement, such as protocols, seminar reports, internship reports, small presentations, and so on, may count as proof of study.
A proof of examination is connected to graded study achievements that are relevant to an examination. Examination achievements are usually performed by way of: essays, designs, various types of examination (oral, written, practical, presentations, written tests, study projects, empirical studies, experimental work or documentation.
The final thesis, the grades achieved in the course of the degree program and the credit points gained are part of the degree. Credit points document the quantity and scope of studies. The examination grades document the quality of academic achievements. The weighted grade point average of all examination achievements, including the final thesis, is included in the final certificate as the final grade. In addition to the final grade, the certificate specifies the grades obtained in the first and second subject and the grade for the professional skills development/key competencies area separately. The corresponding ECTS grades are listed additionally in the final certificate.
Workload as a measure
Quantitatively speaking, the workload is the basis for calculating the amount of time required by the student to complete
- courses, i.e. contact hours (comparable to credit hours)
- study times (time taken to prepare and follow up courses)
- study and examination achievements
- other proof of study achievements
The workload is the average amount of time the student is expected to take to complete these achievements. Credit points achieved are an expression of workload. Each year, the workload per degree program may not exceed a stipulated number of hours. Osnabrück University has set a figure of 1,800 hours of work per year as the regular schedule for its students. Converted, this means that 30 hours of work are assumed per credit point. This figure corresponds to a study scope of 30 credit points per semester or 60 credit points per academic year.
Consecutive degree programs are designed to be modular, and are based on credit points. Modularization means combining subject areas into rounded off, self-contained units (modules) for which credit points are awarded following an examination. Modules correspond to contextual and formal criteria that have been set; stipulated competencies are taught in each module. Hence they represent the quality standards of the respective subjects. The binding modules of the various subjects or areas of knowledge, the professional skills development / key competencies area and the internships make up the curriculum of the degree program.
This means that all binding learning contents taught in the subjects and interdisciplinary areas of the respective degree program are organized in study modules. These form thematic learning units for which credit points are stipulated, depending on the scope. Study modules can be designed for one or two semesters; they are rarely designed to span more than two semesters. They usually link together various forms of teaching and learning. On average, study modules consist of two to four courses. For active participation, various kinds of proof of academic achievement are obligatory.
Study modules that do not allow for examinations to be taken in the course of the degree program are completed with a proof of study, gained upon the completion of the study achievements. Study modules that allow for examinations to be taken in the course of the degree program are completed with a proof of examination, and graded. Proof of academic achievement that is relevant to an examination is performed in the form of an examination achievement. Awarding of the set number of credit points is bound to the examination result. Optional compulsory modules, optional modules and individual courses are also based on the credit point system. They can or must be taken in accordance with the student’s focus or area of interest. The student’s choice of subjects documents their specific profile.