Courses and Modules

Learners often get confused by the terminology that higher educations commonly use when describing the learning opportunites that they offer. In this section lets look at some of that terminology. 


The University structures all of its learning pathways into courses which vary in duration of length. NoteThe words ‘course’ and ‘programme’ are often used interchangeably. Some courses take four years to complete while others might just take one year to complete. Each year of a course has a defined number of modules that must be successfully completed before you move into the next year of the course or graduate. Universities set out specific rules determining which modules you need to complete each year to graduate with the relevant degree title.


A module can be decribed as a distinct block of learning. It is an examinable portion of a course, for which learners attend lectures and/or tutorials and carry out assignments. Each module has a unique module code made up of two or three letters and three or four digits. e.g. ECS3103 Understanding Childrens' Early Learning. Core modules are compulsory modules that must be taken as part of a course. Optional modules are modules that learners choose (subject to availability) when they register online. Each module will have a set of Learning Outcomes associated with it. All modules at University of Galway are specified in terms of ECTS credits. ECTS credits are a measure of the work that a student must complete in order to achieve the learning outcomes on a specific module. Each module is assigned a number of credits e.g. 5, 10, 15. Generally, the maximum number of credits that can be achieved on an undergraduate course is 60 credits per year.

Other Terms

Click here for a link to other common terms that you might come across.