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The use of ECTS in your study and pedagogical plans aims to maximise transparency, efficiency and quality assurance of programmes. “From an institutional perspective, designing a programme means planning a curriculum and its components in credits, indicating learning outcomes and associated workload, learning activities and teaching methods and assessment procedures/criteria (2) ”.

In order to design a programme, and allocate the relevant credits, a thorough understanding of the following concepts and elements is fundamental:
– Level of qualification and the European Qualifications Framework. Generally, the first decision to be made is the level of qualification to be awarded for the completion of the programme, which will be defined according to the relevant national legislation and existing qualifications framework. At the European domain, there is the European Qualifications Framework of EHEA (QF-EHEA) and the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning of the EU (EQF-LLL). Both frameworks use learning outcomes to describe qualifications and are compatible with each other. EABHES Accreditation operates within the QF-EHEA, which identify short cycle qualifications (for short professional training programmes) and first, second and third cycles, which correspond to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral studies, respectively.
– Educational components are self-contained and formally structured learning experiences that a programme can be broken down to (such as courses, work placement, single modules, research projects, social or community activities).
– Learning outcomes describe what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of the programme or its educational components. A correctly formulated learning outcome shall be clear and succinct, shall specify the object or skill that it seeks mastery to, and shall specify the way of demonstrating the achievement of the learning outcome.
– Workload refers to the estimated time that students need to complete learning activities and achieve the relevant learning outcomes, including individual or team work, and study hours.
– Assessment criteria describes what activities students are expected to master and/or pass and at what level, in order to demonstrate the achievement of learning outcomes.
– Syllabus is the instructor’s contractual obligation that outlines and describes particular course deliverables that are contained in an educational component. The syllabus articulates learning activities, learning outcomes, workload, assessment criteria and allocated credits of that educational component.

The steps to design a programme and its syllabi in accordance with EHEA and ECTS standards are as follows:
1. develop the programme profile, which presents its main features, including field of study, qualification level, general learning outcomes, and teaching, learning and assessment methods;
2. break down the programme into educational components or teaching units;
3. assign learning outcomes to each educational component, including the relevant workload and assessment criteria for each outcome;
4. allocate credits according to the workload required to achieve each learning outcome, taking under consideration that the value of 1 ECTS point equals 25/30 hours of workload, and represents the minimum unit.

The educational components, workload, assessment criteria and learning outcomes need to be mutually consistent, achievable, realistic and adequate, and should be aligned with the programme’s general learning outcomes.

There are no rules on the ideal number of learning outcomes for an educational component. It will depend on the level and the nature of the unit, as well as estimated workload. However, the ECTS Users’ Guide suggests that the number should be limited, establishing 6 to 8 as an appropriate number.

(2) European Union, ECTS Users’ Guide, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2015.