Heriot Watt University Grading System

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Heriot Watt University Grading System

Will my degree be recognised?

Yes. Heriot-Watt University is a Scottish university and Scotland is one of the four countries making up the United Kingdom (UK).

All UK university degrees are renowned for their quality and high academic standards and our degrees recognised around the world. The distance learning degrees are of exactly the same standard as those offered on-campus and are also subject to external quality monitoring.

What will be written on my degree certificate?

Your degree certificate will be exactly the same as on-campus student degrees. (eg. they will not specify ‘distance learning’, off-campus study, or the name of your local institution).

For further information on quality processes please see:

How many hours of study will I need to do?

As with most UK qualifications the School of Social Sciences adopts a flexible, learner-centred approach to teaching. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning at an early stage. Our degrees put a lot of emphasis on independent learning and self-motivation.

In the How will I study page we explained how you will be taught through a blend of written course materials, online resources and classroom tuition.

Each course requires 150 student effort hours.

Student effort hours are normally made up of three aspects:

  1. Formal lectures – where the lecturer/tutor conveys the information to you
  2. Tutorials – where the tutor interacts with the class to discuss concepts, ideas, etc and go through numerical questions
  3. Private Self-study – where you spend time outside of class hours studying the materials and the subject

It is normal that the lectures and tutorials only take up a maximum of 30% of the total student effort hours – though this varies across courses and subject areas.

Therefore, a guideline would be that for every course you will need to undertake a minimum of 105 hours of private self-study.

Are there any exams?


All courses are assessed by a final 2-hour written examination.

Sample examinations with suggested solutions are included in the study materials for each course and past examination papers (and solutions) are made available on Vision.

Where do I sit the exam?

Examinations are held in centres throughout the world in June (Semester 1) and December (Semester 2) with a resit diet in August. Each student is entitled to two examination attempts for each assessment, so if you do badly in an exam you will have another chance to improve your grade.

What grades do I need to pass?

Heriot-Watt markers will award a grade of A-F for the course examinations.

Grades A-E are considered passes and you will be awarded 15 credits for each course. However, you will not be able to progress onto a higher subject linked course until you have achieved a grade D (or better) in any prerequisite course.

For example, you will need to achieve a Grade D in Stage 1 ‘Introduction to Accounting’ before being able to progress onto Stage 2 ‘Financial Reporting’.

Do you have links with any professional bodies?

If you have to take the examinations of a particular professional body, you may find that your Heriot-Watt degree will exempt you from some of that body’s examinations. We may be able to give you some guidance on this point but further details can always be obtained by writing to the professional body concerned.

Currently, some courses within the programme carry accreditation from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). So, depending on subjects studied, graduates from the programme will be eligible for a number of ACCA exemptions. For further information see the ACCA website.

What are my career prospects?

Our graduates have excellent career prospects.

At Heriot-Watt there is a long tradition of innovative learning, geared to the needs of modern industry and business. It is one of the top UK universities for graduate employment, with 94% of graduates entering directly into work, further study or training. Heriot-Watt graduates have gone on to have some highly successful careers throughout the world in a variety of different spheres.

Heriot Watt University Grading System

Who will award the degree or Diploma?

On the successful completion of your studies you will be awarded a Heriot-Watt University degree (Ordinary).

During your studies, if you are eligible for (and choose to apply for ) an Intermediate Award you will be awarded a Heriot-Watt University Certificate of Higher Education or a Diploma of Higher Education.

Where will I graduate?

Heriot-Watt University holds official graduation ceremonies at the Edinburgh campus in July and November each year. All successful students are invited to attend.

Students who can not attend in person are able to graduate in absentia.

In some countries where the University has a large number of students graduating an official presentation ceremonies will be arranged. (for example in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in November 2015).

Read more out Heriot-Watt graduations on the Academic Registry website.

Will I be able to keep in touch with the University?

Yes, all graduates are eligible to join the Watt Club which is the University’s alumni association.

With a global network of local branches and Ambassadors the Watt Club provides a great opportunity to meet fellow graduates and re-connect with friends.

The External Programmes team would also like to keep in touch with you. We ask all of our graduates to give us feedback on your learning experiences and also ask your permission to contact you again in the future to see how you are getting on.