SCQF Level and Credit
Levels and Credits
The SCQF uses two measures to describe qualifications and learning programmes within the framework:
- level of difficulty and complexity
- credit points quantify learning outcomes and give them a value or currency
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The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework has 12 levels ranging from Access at SCQF level 1, up to Doctorate at SCQF level 12. The different levels indicate the level of difficulty of a qualification and increases in levels relate to factors such as:
- the complexity and depth of knowledge and understanding
- links to associated academic, vocational or professional practice
- the degree of integration, independence and creativity required
- the range and sophistication of application/practice
- the role(s) taken in relation to other learners/workers in carrying out tasks
SCQF Level Descriptors
The Level Descriptors outline the general outcomes of learning at SCQF levels under five broad headings:
- knowledge and understanding (mainly subject based)
- practice (applied knowledge and understanding)
- generic cognitive skills (e.g. evaluation, critical analysis)
- communication, numeracy and IT skills
- autonomy, accountability and working with others
The Descriptors allow broad comparisons to be made between the outcomes of any learning and allow learners, employers and the public in general to understand the range of skills and learning that should be achieved at each level.
Credit points are used to quantify learning outcomes and give them a value or currency. They are a way of showing how much time it takes, on average, to complete a qualification or learning programme. Credit points and Level Descriptors allow learners, learning providers and employers to compare different qualifications at the same or even different levels.
Credit points quantify the outcomes of learning that are subject to valid, reliable methods of assessment. The number of points allocated is determined by the amount of time that an 'average' learner at a specified level might expect to take to achieve the outcomes.
The SCQF works on the basis that one credit point represents the amount of learning achieved through a notional 10 hours of learning time which includes everything a learner has to do to achieve the outcomes in a qualification including the assessment procedures. This is only a guide. No points are added or taken away if more or less time is taken to achieve the outcomes.
Most mainstream qualifications in Scotland have been allocated a number of SCQF credit points. For example:
- an Honours Degree has a total of 480 credits with at least 90 at level 10
- an SQA Higher has 24 credits at level 6
In some instances it may be possible to transfer SCQF credit points to other learning programmes to ensure that a learner does not have to repeat any learning they have already undertaken. Universities and colleges, SQA and other awarding bodies decide how many of the credit points already received from previous learning can be transferred into their programmes. For example it may be possible to transfer credit from an HND (240 credit points, a minimum of 64 of which are at SCQF level 8) to a Honours degree programme (480 credit points of which a minimum of 90 are at SCQF Level 9).
In all cases of credit transfer it would be the decision of the accepting learning institution as to how many credit points may be transferred.