Part A: Academic Standards

Threshold academic standards are the minimum acceptable level of achievement that a student has to demonstrate to be eligible for an academic award. For equivalent qualifications, the threshold level of achievement is agreed across the UK and is described by the qualifications descriptors set out in the national frameworks for higher education qualifications. Further details about academic standards are available at:

The UK Quality Code sets out a number of Expectations within Part A, however, Expectation A1 below sets out how degree awarding bodies should secure threshold academic standards:

In order to secure threshold academic standards, degree-awarding bodies should:

a) ensure that the requirements of the Framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland/The framework for qualifications of higher education institutions in Scotland are met by:

  • positioning their qualifications at the appropriate level of the relevant framework for higher education qualifications ensuring that programme learning outcomes align with the relevant qualification descriptor in the relevant framework for higher education qualifications
  • naming qualifications in accordance with the titling conventions specified in the frameworks for higher education qualifications
  • awarding qualifications to mark the achievement of positively defined programme learning outcomes

b) consider and take account of QAA’s guidance on qualification characteristics;

c) where they award UK credit, assign credit values and design programmes that align with the specifications of the relevant national credit framework;

d) consider and take account of relevant subject benchmark statements.

Although the aforementioned Expectation focuses on the degree awarding bodies, it is important for staff to understand underlying principles which will enable them to align their provision with the overall required standard and support the awarding body in safeguarding the academic standards.