The Handbook for Economics Lecturers

5.4 Degree classification or GPA?

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Several universities in the UK have been opening discussions on some key issues that could affect curriculum design in the future. In particular, there have been debates about the future of degree classifications, and whether there should be a move towards a grade-point average system. Among the implications of such a move would be that the differential weighting of the parts/years of a degree would become less necessary, as the focus would move away from finding ways of aggregating marks towards the (more helpful) student transcripts. This could in turn mean that there would be more flexibility in scheduling optional units – for example, by having some units being taken by second and third-year students together. After all, the key requirement from QAA for a student to be eligible for an honours degree is that 90 credits have been achieved at level 6 (Part/year 3). It could be argued that although it is crucial to take (say) Micro Theory 2 before Micro Theory 3, it would not really matter whether a student took Development Economics in year 2 and Labour Economics in year 3, or vice versa. Of course, a decision to move to a GPA system will be an institutional one, but this could begin to happen quite soon, and when it does it may have implications for curriculum design.