Microsoft word - bs_100204_laendergemeinsamestrukturvorgaben_rahmenvorgaben_englisch.doc
Common structural guidelines of the Länder for the accreditation of
Bachelor’s and Master’s study courses
(Resolution of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the
Federal Republic of Germany of 10 October 2003 as amended on 4 February 2010)
With the following Structural Guidelines for Bachelor’s and Master’s study courses the Länder are
complying with their national responsibility in higher education to ensure the equivalence of
corresponding study and examination results as well as qualifications and the possibility of transfer
between institutions of higher education. At the same time these guidelines represent a key step on
the path to establishing the European Higher Education Area within the Bologna Process.
Study courses leading to the degrees of Bachelor and Master must be accredited. Accreditation will
be based on the guidelines as set out in Section 2, Clause 1, No. 2 of the Law on Establishing a
Foundation (“Foundation for the Accreditation of Study Courses in Germany”, GV.NRW.2005,
p. 45). The guidelines are therefore directly addressed to the Accreditation Council and the
Accreditation Agencies. At the same time they may be used by higher education institutions as a
basis (orientation framework) for planning and designing study courses subject to accreditation.
In this context the structural guidelines do not entail any regulation of individual study behaviour.
Thus, for example, consecutive Bachelor’s and Master’s study courses at higher education
institutions may only be accredited if they do not exceed a total standard period of study of five
years; but individual students are not prevented from moving to another higher education institution
for a two-year Master’s study course after having completed a four-year Bachelor’s study course at
their first higher education institution.
Special regulations may apply to Bachelor’s and Master’s study courses in the field of state-
regulated study courses (especially medicine, law). Regarding study courses leading to a church
degree, reference is made to the “Key Points for the Structure of Studies in Study Courses
Involving Catholic and Protestant Theology/Religion” adopted by the Standing Conference of the
Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs on 13 December 2007.
Part A: General regulations for all fields of study
A 1. Structure and duration of studies
The Higher Education Acts of the Länder make a fundamental distinction between
Bachelor’s and Master’s study courses, and Diplom
which does not mean that the study courses of the two different graduation systems
may not in part make use of the same study provisions. But the structural
intermingling of the two study course systems is not possible. In a system of
consecutive qualifications, the Bachelor is the standard qualification for study
undertaken at a higher education institution. It has its own profile qualifying for a
profession distinct from the Diplom
qualifications which must be
evident in the content transmitted within the specified standard period of study. As
study courses leading to a professional qualification, the Bachelor’s study courses
must provide the academic foundation, methodological skills and qualifications
related to the professional field corresponding to the profile of the higher education
In all other respects, the following applies:
1.1 Bachelor’s and Master’s study courses can be established both at universities
and higher education institutions of equivalent status as well as at
(universities of applied sciences) without challenging the
different educational objectives of these types of higher education institution.
1.2 Bachelor’s study courses can also be established if no corresponding
Master’s qualification can be obtained at the higher education institution.
Master’s study courses can also be established for holders of a first
qualification at higher education level for entry into a profession if the higher
education institution does not offer the corresponding Bachelor’s study
1.3 The standard period of study for full-time study amounts to six, seven or
eight semesters for Bachelor’s study courses and four, three or two semesters
for Master’s study courses. For consecutive study courses the total standard
period of full-time study comprises five years (ten semesters). Shorter and
longer standard periods of study are possible in exceptional cases on the basis
of a corresponding organisational study structure.
No less than 180 ECTS credits must be demonstrated for a Bachelor’s degree.
A Master’s qualification requires 300 ECTS credits including the preceding
study courses for the first qualification for entry into a profession. This
requirement may be waived in special cases where students can demonstrate
that they are suitably qualified. This also applies to cases where, after
completing a Master’s study course, students have not obtained 300 credits.
Proven qualifications and competences acquired outside higher education
institutions can be credited to provide up to half of the credits required for the
study course. Furthermore, the number of ECTS credits to be acquired in
Bachelor’s or Master’s study courses is determined by the various standard
1.4 For quality assurance, both Bachelor’s and Master’s study courses require a
dissertation (Bachelor’s/Master’s dissertation), the purpose of which is to
demonstrate the ability to deal independently with a problem in the relevant
subject area on the basis of academic methods within a set period of time.
The scope of the work for the Bachelor’s dissertation comprises a minimum
of 6 ECTS credits and must not exceed 12 ECTS credits; for the Master’s
dissertation it should range from 15 - 30 ECTS credits.
A 2. Admission requirements and transitions
In a system of consecutive study courses, the Bachelor’s degree, as the first
professional qualification, represents the standard qualification, leading to the first
entry into a profession for the majority of students. Hence the character of the
Master’s qualification as a further
professional qualification must be emphasised
in the admission requirements for the Master’s degree. The permeability of the
higher education system must, moreover, be maintained after the introduction of
the new graduation system. As a consequence:
2.1 The admission requirement for a Master’s study course is, as a rule, a higher
education degree qualifying for entry into a profession.
Under Land higher
education laws, in clearly defined exceptional cases for Master’s study
courses providing further education Master’s study courses, an entrance
examination may take the place of the requirement for a higher education
degree qualifying for entry into a profession. For quality assurance purposes
or on grounds of capacity, additional admission requirements may be laid
down for Master’s study courses. Admission requirements are subject to
accreditation. The Länder
may reserve the right to approve admission
2.2 Transitions between study courses of the different graduation systems are
possible in accordance with the general provisions governing credits. Details
are set out in the examination regulations or in provisions under Land law.
2.3 Master’s degrees acquired at universities and higher education institutions of
equivalent status, or at universities of applied sciences, always provide
entitlement to doctoral studies. The universities and higher education
institutions of equivalent status will regulate admission to doctoral studies in
Holders of a Bachelor’s degree may also be admitted directly to doctoral
studies without acquiring a further degree by means of a procedure to
determine aptitude. The universities will regulate admission to as well as the
organisation of the procedure to determine aptitude and, if applicable, any
cooperation with universities of applied sciences, in their doctoral
2.4 In accordance with the principle that a holder of a higher education degree
qualifying for entry to a profession may study at any other higher education
institution, the Bachelor’s degree is equal to a higher education entrance
qualification corresponding to the general higher education entrance
In Bavaria, a Bachelor’s qualification is equivalent under qualification legislation to a Diplom
qualification from the same higher education institution in terms of providing a general higher education entrance certificate.
A 3. Profiles of the study courses
3.1 Bachelor’s study courses lay academic foundations, provide methodological
skills and lead to qualifications related to the professional field corresponding
to the profile of the higher education institution and of the study course. This
ensures a broad academic qualification in Bachelor’s study courses.
3.2 Master’s study courses serve subject and academic specialisation und may be
differentiated by the profile types “practice-oriented” and “research-
A 4. Consecutive Master’s study courses and Master’s study courses providing
When Master’s study courses are being set up, they should be assigned to one of
the categories “consecutive study courses” or “study courses providing further
education”. Their assignment should be checked during accreditation.
4.1 Consecutive Master’s study courses are to be structured as study courses
which consolidate or extend knowledge, are multi-disciplinary or cover a
different subject. Bachelor’s and Master’s study courses may be studied
consecutively at various higher education institutions, at different types of
higher education institution and with phases of professional work between
4.2 Master’s study courses providing further education require qualified practical
professional experience of, as a rule, no less than one year. The content of the
Master’s study courses providing further education should take professional
experience into account and build on it. In designing Master’s study courses
providing further education, the higher education institution will set out the
connection between professional qualification and the study course on offer.
Master’s study courses providing further education correspond to the
requirements (see points 1.3 and 1.4) for consecutive Master’s study courses
and lead to the same level of qualification and to the same rights2. The
equivalence of requirements will be determined in accreditation.
2 Issues related to study fees and remuneration for study courses for further education are not affected.
A 5. Qualifications/Degrees
Bachelor’s and Master’s study courses are study courses of their own right leading
to independent qualifications. As a consequence:
5.1 Only one
degree can be awarded for a successfully completed Bachelor’s or
Master’s study course. Hence Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees cannot be
awarded simultaneously on completion of a Diplom
course; similarly, completion of a Bachelor’s or Master’s study course cannot
lead to the simultaneous award of the Diplom
5.2 In the consecutive graduation system, the Master’s degree is only awarded on
the basis of a further
higher education degree qualifying for entry to a
profession. Hence a Master’s qualification can as a rule only be acquired if a
first higher education degree qualifying for entry to a profession already
exists (see point 2.1). Therefore first degree study courses which after four or
five years lead to a Master’s qualification are excluded.
5.3 Bachelor’s and Master’s study courses do not differentiate the final degrees
by the length of the standard period of study. Hence the same degree is
awarded for three- or four-year Bachelor’s study courses. The same applies to
Master’s qualifications which are achieved in one or two years. This also
applies to seven-semester Bachelor’s study courses and three-semester
Master’s study courses. Bachelor’s qualifications with the addition
“Honours” (“B.A. Hons.”) are excluded.
A 6. Designation of qualifications/degrees
For acceptance in the labour market and international cooperation, it is necessary to
ensure transparency and clarity by restricting the number of different qualification
designations. In designating degrees, no distinction is made between the profile
types. The following designations will be used for Bachelor’s and consecutive
Designation of qualifications
depending on the content of the study course:
In interdisciplinary study courses, the designation of the final qualification is
determined by the subject area which is the major subject in the study course; in
engineering and economics it is determined by the content of the study course.
Subject additions to the final qualification are excluded.
For further education courses Master’s degrees may be used which diverge from
3 Note: Does not apply to state-regulated study courses.
For the designation of final qualifications the German language may also be used
(e.g. Bakkalaureus der Wissenschaften
). Designations comprising more than one
language (e.g. Bachelor der Wissenschaften
) may not be used.
Detailed information about the studies underlying the qualification is contained in
each case in the “Diploma Supplement”, which is part of each degree certificate.
The conversion of degree designations will be effected as part of accreditation and
A 7. Modularisation, mobility and credit point system
Accreditation of a Bachelor’s or Master’s study course requires evidence that the
study course has been modularised and provided with a credit point system. The
content of a module must be arranged in such a way that, as a rule, it can be taught
within one semester or one year; in specific cases, which have to be justified, a
module may also extend over several semesters. Study courses must be structured
so that they can offer periods of study at other universities and of vocational and
professional practice without any loss of study time. The higher education
institutions must guarantee the coherence of the study concept and the feasibility
for study of the contents and scope of the study courses offered, and test and
confirm them during accreditation. In detail, reference is made to the resolution of
the Standing Conference “Framework guidelines for the introduction of credit point
systems and the modularisation of study courses” (see Annex).
A 8. Equivalence
The introduction of a graduation system should not lead to a devaluation of the
qualifications. Hence the following applies with
regard to the weighting of Bachelor’s and Master’s qualifications and the
Bachelor’s qualifications always provide the same rights as Diplom
qualifications of universities of applied science.
Master’s qualifications provide the same rights as Diplom
qualifications of universities and equivalent higher education institutions.
Part B: Special regulations for individual fields of study
B 1. Special regulations for artistic study courses at colleges of art and music
The General Regulations A 1 to A 8 apply to artistic study courses at colleges of art
and music with the following conditions:
Clauses A 1 and A 3.1:
Objectives of Bachelor’s study course
Artistic study courses enhance the ability of artistic creation and develop it further;
they impart the academic bases and methodological skills for the subject concerned
as well as qualifications related to the specific field of professional activity.
Clause A 1.3:
Standard period of study/ECTS credits
In divergence from Clause 1.3, consecutive Bachelor’s and Master’s study courses
may exceptionally be established with a total standard period of study of up to six
years in the artistic core subjects at colleges of art and music, as determined in
greater detail by Land law. With consecutive Bachelor’s and Master’s study
courses with a total standard period of study of six years the Master level is reached
At colleges of music, the artistic core subjects include in particular singing,
composition and conducting as well as instrumental training. At colleges of art this
is the subject of art4. In all other respects, the allocation of a subject to the artistic
core subjects arises from the profile of the higher education institutions and is
determined in agreement between the higher education institution and the relevant
Clause A 1.4:
In free art, the scope of the work for the Bachelor’s dissertation can comprise up to
20 ECTS credits and for the Master’s dissertation up to 40 ECTS credits in
4 The inclusion of free art study courses in the consecutive structure of studies is decided by the relevant
government department in collaboration with the respective higher education institution.
Clause A 2.1:
Admission to Master’s studies
For admission to artistic Master’s study courses, the special artistic aptitude
required for this must be demonstrated in addition to the Bachelor’s qualification.
This can also be done by a special aptitude examination.
Clause A 2.3:
Right to embark on doctoral studies
Master’s qualifications at colleges of art and music entitle graduates to embark on
doctoral studies only if the Master's study course provided a sufficiently
Clause A 2.4:
Acquisition of higher education entrance qualifications by means
of a Bachelor’s qualification
For the acquisition of higher education entrance qualifications by means of a
Bachelor’s qualification in artistic study courses at colleges of art and music, the
provisions in force under Land law apply.
Clause A 3.2:
Master’s study courses at colleges of art and music should have a specific artistic
profile which must be determined in the accreditation as specified by the
Accreditation Council and shown in the Diploma Supplement.
Clause A 4.3:
Master’s study courses providing further education
On admission to artistic Master’s study courses providing further education,
practical professional activities undertaken during the study course may also be
taken into account unless this is prevented by regulations under Land law.
Clause A 6:
Designation of qualifications
The qualifications for artistic study courses at colleges of art and music are
Clause A 7:
At least two modules are obligatory for the artistic core subject in a Bachelor’s
study course. They may take up about two-thirds of the work time (160 ECTS
credits in a four-year Bachelor’s study course). The compatibility of artistic and
teaching study courses should be reciprocally taken into account.
B 2. Special regulations for study courses providing the basis for a teaching post
For study courses providing the basis for a teaching post, reference is made to “Key
points for the mutual recognition of Bachelor’s and Master’s qualifications in study
courses providing the educational basis for a teaching career” of 2 June 2006 and
the supplementary resolution of 28 February 2007. Beyond that, the General
Regulations A1 to A8 apply with the following conditions:
Clause A 3 Profiles of the study courses
Master’s study courses providing the basis for a teaching post have a specific
teaching post-related profile which must be determined in the accreditation as
specified by the Accreditation Council and shown in the Diploma Supplement.
Clause A 6:
Designation of qualifications
The qualifications for study courses providing the basis for a teaching post are
Clause A 8 Equivalence
Career regulations under law of the Länder
are not affected hereby.
Framework Guidelines for the Introduction of Credit Point Systems
and the Modularisation of Study Courses
Modules combine subjects in thematically and chronologically complete, self-
contained study units assigned with a number of credits. They can be made up of
different teaching and learning formats (such as lectures, tutorials, practical work
assignments, e-learning, research training, etc.). A module may comprise content
which can be taught within one semester or academic year, or extend over several
semesters. To reduce the examination burden modules generally conclude with one
examination, the result of which is entered on the degree certificate. In specific,
justified cases a number of modules may also be concluded with a single examination.
The content of the examination for a particular module is to be guided by the learning
outcomes defined for that module. The scope of the examination should be limited to
the extent necessary for that purpose. The award of credits does not depend on an
examination, but on the successful completion of the module in question. The
requirements for the award of credits are to be set out clearly and comprehensibly in
the study and examination regulations and the accreditation documents. To avoid
excessively small modules, which also generate a heavy examination burden, modules
should account for at least five ECTS credits.
Modules are to be described in terms including the workload and the number of credits
to be awarded (see point 2 - Explanations - for content and scope). The description of
g) Frequency at which modules are offered
Provided that there are no directly applicable ‘free attempt’ rules
], rules are to be adopted to promote early completion of the
modules required under the degree course curriculum.
The mutual recognition of modules when changing higher education institution or
course is to be laid down in manageable rules in the study or examination regulations
and to be confirmed in the accreditation. Mutual recognition hinges on the quality of
accredited study courses, and the performance of state or accredited non-state higher
education institutions as regards the competences acquired by the students (learning
outcomes) in accordance with the rules of the Lisbon Convention (Article III). Under
the Lisbon Convention, recognition may be granted provided there are no substantial
differences between the competences acquired (Article V).
1.3 Award of credits
Credits are a quantitative measure of student workloads. They cover instruction itself,
the time required for preparation and follow-up, (i.e. class time and private study),
examinations and preparation for examinations, including final and other papers, and
in some cases practical work placements.
As a rule 60 credits are awarded per academic year, or 30 per semester. One credit
assumes a workload (class time and private study) of 25 to 30 hours maximum, giving
full-time students a total workload at lectures and outside class of 750 – 900 hours per
semester. This equates to 32 – 39 hours per week for 46 weeks of the year. The higher
education institutions must present the feasibility of the study course in a
comprehensible manner, taking student workload into account in the accreditation
The description of the modules should give students reliable information on procedural
aspects of the study course, content, and qualitative and quantitative requirements, as well
as on how it ties into the overall study course concept or relates to other modules offered.
The description should, moreover, allow an appraisal of the module in terms of
equivalence as a prerequisite for crediting it to other study courses or transfer on changing
to another higher education institution. On the other hand, it must avoid rigid conditions
which prevent a flexible structure of the courses taught. Notwithstanding the
responsibilities of the higher education institution to structure the modules in detail, the
recommended Standing Conference standards for the description of modules in points (a)
to (i) below anticipate details of the following questions:
Contents and target qualifications
Which subject-specific, methodological, practical and cross-subject contents should
be taught, what are the educational objectives? Which competences (subject-specific,
methodological, cross-subject competences, key qualifications) should be acquired?
The learning objectives and target qualifications are to be geared to an overall
qualification to be defined (desired degree).
The different teaching and learning formats employed within the module
(e.g. lectures, tutorials, practical work assignments, project work, private study, etc.).
are to be described. Different class types should, in principle, contribute to the
attainment of a target qualification. However, the types of class chosen in specific
cases is of less importance. While lectures tend to provide an overview, tutorials
serve to apply what has been learned, seminars to consolidate knowledge, etc.
Different classes involve different methodological approaches, which together are
The admission requirements are to be described for each module. What knowledge,
competences and skills are required for successful participation? Information should
also be given on how the student can prepare for the module (e.g. reading lists, tips
on teaching and learning programmes supported by multimedia, etc.).
In describing the module attention is to be paid to the link between it and other
modules within the same study course, and to what extent the module can be
integrated into other study courses. This also applies to study courses providing
further education, and to postgraduate study courses.
Conditions for the award of credits
Conditions for the award of credits (particularly: examinations, proof of attendance,
etc.) should be described. These should specify, in particular, the type of examination
(e.g. oral or written examination, presentation, paper, etc.) and the scope and length
of the examination. Compensation options are to be regulated in the examination
Credits and grades
Credits and grades are to be detailed separately. As well as the grade based on the
German grading scale (1 to 5), a relative grade is also to be given in the final grade.
It is recommended that this be structured in accordance with the ECTS Users’ Guide,
The ECTS grade is a mandatory supplement to the German grade for academic
degrees, and can also be displayed voluntarily for individual modules, where possible
and where there is a corresponding need for this (e.g. on transferring to a foreign
5 The 2009 ECTS Users’ Guide currently applies.
Frequency at which modules are offered
The module description should specify whether the module is offered each semester,
each academic year or only at longer intervals.
The total workload and number of credits to be acquired is to be specified for each
The duration of each module is to be specified. This determines procedural aspects of
the study course and the examination burden in each semester, and impacts on the
frequency of the study course offer. Not least, it impacts on student mobility.
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