Courses: Standards for Teaching, Syllabus and Assessment
When departments approve courses, the faculty assumes that the courses are within the standards. Otherwise, departments must apply to the faculty for approval in ePhorte. After the tables below, the following are discussed in more detail: I. Principles and Objectives of Standardization, II. Description of Teaching Methods, III. Description of Types of Syllabus, IV. Description of Forms of Assessment, and V. Description of Types of Course
Adopted by the Vice-Dean of Studies on 14 March 2008, amended 3 May 2011, 21 November 2011, 2 February 2018, 6 May 2020.
1. Knowledge courses (Kunnskapsemner) worth 10 credits
|teaching||There must be at least 28 hours of teaching, including student-active teaching methods, such as seminars or group work. The amount of student work, in addition to any compulsory activities/qualification assignments, must be stated in the course descriptions.|
|syllabus||See Section III. Description of Types of Syllabus|
Possible forms of assessment:
|teaching||There must be at least 20 hours of teaching, including student-active teaching methods, such as seminars or group work. The students’ writing process (semester paper, project work and portfolio) will form a substantial part of the teaching process. The amount of student work, in addition to any compulsory activities/qualification assignments (obligatoriske aktiviteter/kvalifiseringsoppgaver), must be stated in the course descriptions.|
|syllabus||See Section III. Description of Types of Syllabus|
Possible forms of assessment:
c) Knowledge course with continuous and final assessment
|assessment||If a knowledge course includes continuous assessment as part of its examination, the course is considered as a knowledge course with continuous assessment in terms of the minimum number of teaching hours.|
|teaching||There must be at least 42 hours of teaching, including student-active teaching methods, such as seminars or group work. The teaching must include compulsory activities/qualification assignments (obligatoriske aktiviteter/kvalifiseringsoppgaver).|
|syllabus||See Section III. Description of Types of Syllabus|
Possible forms of assessment:
|teaching||Although it is possible to formulate common learning outcomes for this type of course, the specific content of the courses requires considerable variation in teaching methods and forms of assessment. There are therefore no common standards for this type of course. The Principles and Objectives of Standardization, however, also apply here, and the course description must show that these principles have been followed. The teaching may include compulsory activities/qualification assignments (obligatoriske aktiviteter/kvalifiseringsoppgaver).|
|teaching||The amount and type of guidance will be determined by the course content and learning outcomes. Guidance and/or any compulsory work should be spread throughout the semester to ensure that students study regularly. Guided reading may not count for more than 10 credits in a Bachelor’s degree and 20 credits in a Master’s degree.|
|syllabus||See Section III. Description of Types of Syllabus.|
|assessment||All forms of assessment may be used. If final assessment is used, the teaching/guidance must prepare students for this type of examination.|
|teaching||There is no teaching on this course other than supervision and possibly qualification work such as participation in a short thesis seminar and/or an oral presentation.|
|syllabus||Literature related to the topic of the Master’s thesis.|
|assessment||An independent thesis of up to 50 pages of 2300 characters without spaces for 30-credit courses or up to 100 pages for 60-credit courses.|
5. Principles for the use of the standards for courses worth 5 and 20 credits
For 5-credit courses, the minimum requirement for teaching hours is halved.
For 20-credit courses, the teaching hours will increase, but with room for (well founded) pedagogically variations so that the increased work effort, (for example,) will involve more practical components, practice in project work, an expanded syllabus, time spent on examination work, etc.
|syllabus||The size of the syllabus will be halved and doubled, respectively, according to the main principle that the size of the syllabus is adjusted according to the time available for the total work on the course. See Section III. Description of Types of Syllabus|
For 5-credit courses, the number of pages in semester papers and portfolios is halved. Otherwise, the standards for 10-credit courses apply.
For 20-credit courses, the number of pages of semester papers and portfolios can be doubled. The examination may consist of one or two parts, one of which may be a four-hour written examination (skoleeksamen).
6. Courses with a practical component (Emner med praksis)
The Faculty of Humanities offers two types of courses with a practical component, both of which have their own websites with advice and standards:
- Full utilization of the academic year. The academic year is 40 weeks long. Total study time is 1500 to 1800 hours per year for full-time students, divided into organized learning activities, self-study and examination preparation. This implies that a full-time student performing the specified amount of work should normally be able to achieve the learning outcomes and complete the course in the specified time. The course descriptions must indicate student activity by specifying how teaching, assignments and self-study fill the specified time.
- Regular feedback for students. The use of teaching methods and forms of assessment that provide students with continuous feedback on their progress will encourage students to work steadily and actively throughout the semester. Oral presentations and written work, individually and in groups, ensure that students develop skills in communication, argumentation and collaboration.
- Forms of assessment that promote Learning. Forms of assessment should promote learning through feedback on progress and an even distribution of workload throughout the semester. Both continuous assessment and final assessment with qualification work meet this requirement.
- A sound relationship between learning outcomes, teaching, syllabus and assessment. Course descriptions must show how the relationship between these elements is ensured in an educationally sound manner. Oral examinations should primarily be used when oral skills are a learning outcome, and not merely as an instrument to test knowledge.
- Reasonable distribution of work between courses. Parallel teaching of courses means that fulltime students take several (usually three) courses simultaneously. It is therefore important that the work requirement for each individual course is reasonable from the student's point of view. A workload that is greater than what the number of credtis of the course indicates, may result in students failing to achieve the normal number of credits in the time available. The standards for the syllabus and assessment are therefore maximum standards.
- Variation in teaching methods and forms of assessment. Students must encounter a variety of teaching methods and forms of assessment during their studies. This should also be realized in the course groups; for example, students at the 2000 and 3000 levels will have semester papers, home examinations or portfolios as a basis for assessment, while written examinations and qualification assignments will be more widely used in basic courses at the 1000 level.
The three most common teaching methods are:
A) Lectures where the lecturer for example gives a review of the syllabus literature and opens up for questions and comments.Lectures are always public.
B) Student-active teaching methods (these may include online learning sessions, flipped classroom, role-play and case work):
- Seminar teaching is a combination of syllabus review and student activity where the above methods play a key role. In order to meet the objective of closer follow-up, each seminar will normally not have more than 25 active students present throughout the semester.
- Group teaching consists of student exercises led by the teacher, without the elements of traditional lectures. In order to meet the objective of closer follow-up, each seminar will normally not have more than 25 active students present throughout the semester.
A 10-credit course has one-third of student working hours per semester available for teaching and self-study. The time available (i.e. less the time spent on teaching and possibly practical training) determines the size of the syllabus. A rule of thumb is that the syllabus should normally not exceed 1000 pages in courses worth 10 credits. There are four types of syllabus:
- General texts provide an overview of the empirical areas of the subject. If these texts are read in a foreign language as part of language learning, the number of pages may be similar to that of theoretical texts.
- Theoretical texts present theories and methods used in analysis of empirical data, as well as the basic problems and scientific theory involved in the subject. A theoretical syllabus will usually be smaller than a general syllabus.
- Source/original texts are an important type of syllabus in literature and language courses, but also in e.g. philosophy, history of ideas and history of religion. The quantity of source/original texts will depend on their level of difficulty, whether they are theoretical or literary, and whether they are read in translation or in the original language. The number of pages of literary texts may exceed 1000.
- The extent of the syllabus in digital media, such as videos, podcasts, internet texts, etc. must be calculated on the basis of the time students are expected to spend learning the content.
I) Qualification assignments are compulsory activities that are not graded and therefore not part of the examination. These are short written or oral assignments throughout the course, and are of the same type as described under II) Assessment/examinations.
These assignments are not given a grade, but are “approved” or “not approved”. A certain number of qualification assignments may need to be approved before a student can take the examination.
Qualification assignments can be used on courses with continuous assessment and should be used on courses with final assessment.
On master´s thesis courses, participation in a short thesis seminar and/or an oral presentation can be (used as) qualification assignments
Each individual qualification assignment that must be approved in order to take the course examination should be entered separately in Felles Studentsystem (FS) to provide students with better information in Studentweb. However, a number of similar minor assignments may be entered together. If Inspera is used, each qualification assignment must be entered separately.
A qualification assignment as a test in the classroom must take place during teaching and may not be in digital form on the students’ laptops. This test may not last longer than 60 minutes. The following hour must be kept free for the students entitled to extra time, usually 30 minutes.. This type of test is administered by the department and may not involve invigilators from the faculty or the central administration of the University.
For more detailed information on compulsory activities, see the appropriate website.
II) Assessment/examination applies to work that receives a grade. All the forms of assessment used on a course make up the examination scheme (vurderingsordning) of the course.
Several of the forms of assessment mentioned below are suitable for group examinations. See the faculty website for advice and rules for Teamwork and Group Examinations (in norwegian only).
On courses worth 10 and 20 credits, the examination may consist of one or two parts with different forms of assessment. If two parts are used, they must not involve a greater workload than if one part was used. If two written forms of assessment are used, the total number of pages must not exceed 15 in a 10-credit course. The pages can be divided between the parts of the examination in relation to the weighting of the parts.
In a 10-credit course, examples of such reduction are:
- If the oral is combined with a form of written examination, the number of pages of written examination work is halved and the written examination lasts two hours.
- If the written examination is combined with a semester paper or home examination, there is a two-hour written examination and half the number of pages of written examination work.
A written examination can only be used once in a course regardless of the number of credits. Written examinations take place in the examination period at the end of the semester.
If a knowledge course includes continuous assessment as part of its examination, the course is considered as a knowledge course with continuous assessment in terms of the number of teaching hours.
Each part of the examination must be weighted. The final grade is calculated automatically in Felles Studentsystem (FS). No part of the examination may be weighted at less than 30%, as such weighting will make little difference to the final grade. A student must pass both parts of an examination in the same semester to achieve an overall pass.
Grade weighting table (pdf) (NB: two pages)
a) Final assessment (sluttvurdering)
Final assessment means that students are not given guidance/feedback on their examination work, and that the examination is usually held after teaching is completed for the semester.
A written examination (skoleeksamen) is a final examination that sums up the course work; it is anonymous and uses invigilators. It takes place at different times from teaching. The maximum time is four hours. These examinations should normally be digital and are held in the written examination rooms of the University.
An oral examination counts as an independent examination, either alone or as a weighted part of an examination. Oral examination adjusting the grade from a written examination (justerende muntlig) is only allowed on Master’s thesis courses, and the entire grade scale may be used for the adjustment. A non-verifiable oral examination requires two external examiners and is a resource-intensive form of assessment. It should therefore be considered whether oral skills can be tested with an oral qualification assignment.
The following types of oral examination may be used:
- A non-verifiable oral examination is a dialogue-based test of skills and/or knowledge of no more than 30 minutes duration. It is normally public and has two examiners.
- A verifiable oral examination in the language laboratory can be used in skills courses. This is not a public examination, and the verifiability means that there is no requirement for two examiners. Both speaking and listening skills can be tested. Students’ speech is recorded and assessed.
- A non-verifiable oral presentation is a presentation of up to 30 minutes duration. The lack of verifiability means that it is assessed by two examiners. It is normally public.
- An oral presentation is an examination without dialogue but with the opportunity for subsequent questions from the examination committee. The topic is chosen by the student or assigned no later than four business days before the presentation is held. The course description must state what the student must submit to the committee before the presentation.
- A trial lecture (prøveforelesning) is a more formal oral presentation, which is usually publicly advertised. The lecture and questions from the audience should not take longer than 45 minutes. The candidate does not submit the manuscript but must submit a copy of the outline and a list of the sources and secondary literature used, as well as other material such as transparencies or slides, to the examination committee. The topic is announced no later than four business days before the lecture is held. After the lecture, the examination committee and others may ask the candidate questions related to the lecture. Candidates in the same course should be treated as equally as possible with regard to the extent of questions from the examiners.
A home examination (hjemmeeksamen) is a written paper that students work on within a given time frame, usually towards the end of the semester. The topic is given or approved by the course teacher. The teaching of several parallel courses makes home examinations a rather impractical form of assessment for students who receive more than one home examination at the same time. To prevent this form of assessment from taking excessive time from other courses students are taking, the duration is limited to 72-78 hours (not including Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays) between receipt of the examination question paper and the submission of the answer paper. On a 10-credit course, the paper should be maximum 15 pages of 2300 characters without spaces. In the course description, the department may determine a minimum number of pages and possibly a lower maximum number than the standards allow for.
A two- to six-hour home examination in Inspera. If all aids are permitted, this kind of examination may be preferable to a written examination (skoleeksamen). In order to limit the possibility of the candidate collaborating with others, the most suitable type of examination will be written work such as an essay. The question(s) should be designed to minimize the chances of plagiarism and help from others; they may for example be based on a topical theme in a video or audio case. If it is desirable to give several short questions, such as multiple choice, the number of questions should fill the time available to make it difficult for the candidate to collaborate with others. In addition, the questions can be created in sections, with random pull of questions from each section or presentation of the questions in random order.
b) Continuous assessment (integrert vurdering)
Continuous assessment means that students receive guidance/feedback on their examination work during the semester.
Semester papers (semesteroppgaver) are written assignments that students work on throughout the semester until a specified deadline for submission. The topic is given or approved by the course teacher. On a 10-credit course, the paper should be maximum 15 pages of 2300 characters without spaces. In the course description, the department may determine a minimum number of pages and possibly a lower maximum number than the standards allow for.
Portfolios (mapper) must contain at least two written/verifiable pieces of work. Overall, the number of hours and pages involved in examination work on a course with portfolio assessment must not be greater than on a course with an equal number of credits using other forms of assessment.
All types of qualification assignments or compulsory activities may be used on courses with portfolio assessment.
The portfolio consists of all or some of the work the student has done. If it contains a selection, the student is responsible for selecting the work. The pieces of work in the portfolio are not given separate grades, and are not weighted, but together form the basis for an overall grade given at the end of the semester. At the start of the semester, students must be informed about the types of work required for the portfolio (essays, résumés, etc.) and the number of pages required for each piece of work. Students hand in all of the work in the portfolio together. They can continue to write on pieces of work written earlier in the semester until the final submission date.
Portfolios may be part of the examination scheme (vurderingsordningen) of the course. If it is desirable to combine the portfolio with e.g. an oral examination, the portfolio and oral examination must be weighted exam parts.
Master’s theses (masteroppgaver) worth 30 and 60 credits have a maximum of 50 and 100 pages, respectively (2300 characters without spaces per page). In the course description, the department may stipulate a minimum number of pages.
The principle of a relationship between learning outcomes, teaching and forms of assessment has been a key element in determining the types of course. With regard to learning outcomes, the vast majority of courses in the Faculty of Humanities can be divided into two main categories:
- knowledge courses (kunnskapsemner)
- skills courses (ferdighetsemner)
This distinction does not refer to differences between subject areas. Each type includes courses from several subject areas, and the same subject area will have courses of different types.
1. Knowledge courses
On knowledge courses, students are expected to acquire a certain amount of knowledge as well as a method or form of reflection; the assessment should show that students have acquired this knowledge and can reflect on it. Most of the courses in the faculty are of this type, particularly in areas such as philosophy, history, literary science and history of ideas, but also in higher levels of language courses. Knowledge courses can be divided into two subgroups: with final assessment and with continuous assessment.
a) Knowledge courses with final assessment
Teaching is in the form of seminars or lectures combined with student-active teaching methods. This type of course requires considerable preparation by the teacher for teaching and feedback on qualification assignments. The size of the syllabus is primarily determined by the level of difficulty of the texts. The purpose of the assessment is to test students' understanding of the syllabus. Final assessment should be used in conjunction with one or more previous qualification assignments and should particularly test students’ mastery of the parts of the syllabus that have not been covered in the qualification assignments.
b) Knowledge courses with continuous assessment
Teaching is in the form of seminars or lectures combined with student-active teaching methods and individual guidance. Students’ written work (semester paper, project work and portfolio) will form a substantial part of the learning process. Students alternate between writing their own papers and commenting on each other's work and are therefore a learning resource. The teacher initiates, comments on and summarizes written work and discussions, and facilitates contact and interaction between students. Much of the teacher's work consists of feedback to students. As students are not usually tested on a common syllabus, lists of set books can often be replaced by reading lists that students use as sources in their work. Precise information on the requirements for work to be submitted and on the amount of guidance must be provided to students at the start of the semester.
2. Skills courses
This type of course has practical or theoretical skills as a key learning outcome. This often requires different forms of assessment from written work. The courses involve a great deal of student-teacher contact, as students need to practice skills and be corrected. If a skills course is primarily intended as a qualification for further studies, the “pass”/“fail” scale is recommended.
a) Skills courses in foreign languages
Important learning outcomes of skills courses in foreign languages are oral or written practical language skills based on knowledge and insight. The courses involve a great deal of student-teacher contact, mostly in groups, and require close guidance and feedback in the form of corrections and comments as part of the learning process. The syllabus may be reduced in relation to pure knowledge courses. Since the final objective is language competence, final assessment in the form of a written or oral examination will be appropriate for these courses.
b) Skills courses in other subject areas
This type of course covers a wide variety of subjects. Courses with practical skills as a key learning outcome are in areas such as conservation, media studies and musicology with much use of group exercises, workshops and laboratory exercises. Some courses in musicology include individual teaching. Courses with theoretical skills as key learning outcomes are e.g. linguistics and philosophy, where students learn to master a particular theoretical tool.
This type of course is only offered at the 3000 and 4000 levels. It can be used to provide general or in-depth knowledge in subject areas with so few students that ordinary teaching is not reasonable.
Each course is defined primarily by the syllabus as determined by the course teacher, who also ensures that the syllabus does not include items from students’ previous syllabuses. As students do not have regular teaching in these types of course, the syllabus may be larger than indicated in the description of types of syllabus. All forms of assessment can be used. If final assessment is used, the students must be prepared for this form of assessment during teaching/guidance.
Guided reading may not exceed 10 credits in a Bachelor’s degree and 20 credits in a Master’s degree. Courses that are not initially defined as guided reading in the course description cannot be converted to guided reading courses, if, for example, only a small number of students take the course.
4. Master’s thesis course
Master’s thesis courses may be seen as a variant of the knowledge course with continuous assessment. This course involves no teaching other than supervision. Qualification work such as participation in a short thesis seminar and/or an oral presentation may be used. However, it is highly recommended that all Master’s programmes and options offer writing seminars where students can discuss their project plans and thesis drafts.