A taught coursework programme involves a period of study following lectures, seminars, etc and submitting coursework for assessment, followed by a period of supervised research from which a dissertation is produced. Almost all Masters degrees follow this pattern and usually consist of 90 ECTS (European Credit and Transfer System) points (equivalent to 180 SCQF (Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework) points. Postgraduate diplomas and postgraduate certificates represent two-thirds and one-third respectively of the credits of a Masters degree and usually omit the dissertation stage. Students registered on a one-year Masters programme are required to successfully complete assessments at a particular level at the end of the taught coursework period before being allowed to progress to the dissertation stage.
A full-time taught coursework programme will usually last one year (comprising nine months attending lectures, etc and three months researching and preparing a dissertation); a part-time taught coursework programme will usually last two years (comprising 18 months attending lectures, etc, and six months researching and preparing a dissertation).