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INTO Programme Specification

Graduate Diploma Graduate Diploma in Social Sciences (Accelerated)

Academic Year 2022/23

A programme specification is required for any programme on which a student may be registered. All programmes of the University are subject to the University's Quality Assurance processes. All degrees are awarded by Queen's University Belfast.

Programme Title Graduate Diploma Graduate Diploma in Social Sciences (Accelerated) Final Award
(exit route if applicable for Postgraduate Taught Programmes)
Graduate Diploma
Programme Code NTO-AGD-SS UCAS Code HECoS Code 100471 - Social sciences - 100
ATAS Clearance Required No
Mode of Study Full Time
Type of Programme Postgraduate Length of Programme 1 Academic Year(s) Total Credits for Programme 120
Exit Awards available No

Institute Information

Teaching Institution

INTO Queen's



Quality Code

Higher Education Credit Framework for England

Level 6

Subject Benchmark Statements

The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies

Accreditations (PSRB)

The British Council

Date of most recent Accreditation Visit 11-05-18

Regulation Information

Does the Programme have any approved exemptions from the University General Regulations
(Please see General Regulations)


Programme Specific Regulations

English Language Requirement:
For the Graduate Diploma in Social Sciences, candidates will normally be required to have an English Language test score, taken within the last two years, of IELTS 6.0 or equivalent, with a minimum of 5.5 in all sub-skills.

NB. Students who require a Tier 4 visa to study on the programme must comply with UK Visas and Immigration requirements and hold a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at CEFR Level B1 or above with a minimum of B1 in all components, reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Academic Requirement:
Completed first degree with minimum classification specified by country.
Minimum equivalent of GCSE Grade C in Maths for all students.
Additional conditions may attach to certain progression pathways and potential applicants are advised to check with University Admissions before applying.
Entrance requirements are kept under review and are subject to change.
Applicants are advised to check the latest information online at

There will be one intake each academic year, in March.

To be eligible for the award, all students must complete (pass) all academic subject modules to the value of 80 CATS points.
Students must also complete (pass) the English Language and Study Skills (ELSS) Module to the value of 40 CATS points.

The pass mark for all academic modules is 40%.
The pass mark for the ELSS module is 50% overall (IELTS 6.0), with a minimum of 40% in each sub-skill (IELTS 5.5).
The ELSS module is assessed using an INTO ELSS examination (benchmarked against CEFR and IELTS).
Results are reported as a percentage with 35-39% being equivalent to IELTS 5.0, 40 -49% equivalent to IELTS 5.5; 50-59% equivalent to IELTS 6.0, 60-69% equivalent to IELTS 6.5, etc.

A student who fails a module at the first sitting shall be permitted one further attempt to achieve a pass for that module. The module will normally be retaken at the next available opportunity.

The module pass mark is normally 40% and any re-sit mark is capped at 40%. However, where the module is a specified pathway module (and therefore essential to student progression) the pass mark is 50%. In such cases, eligibility to re-sit the module is determined by a first mark lower than 50% and any re-sit mark is capped at 50%. With such modules, the progression mark becomes the de facto pass mark.

The ELSS resit mark is not capped.

Students who fail any module at the second attempt will be reviewed and may be required to withdraw from the programme.
Holders of the Graduate Diploma may progress to study graduate degrees at Queen’s University only if they have achieved, as a minimum requirement, the level of performance overall, and in both academic modules and ELSS as specified in the following progression requirements:

Minimum of 60% overall final grade average.

English Language Module:
Minimum of 60% overall (equivalent to IELTS 6.5) with minimum of 40% (equivalent to IELTS 5.5) in all components.

Academic Modules:
No academic module mark less than 50%

Students with protected characteristics


Are students subject to Fitness to Practise Regulations

(Please see General Regulations)


Educational Aims Of Programme

The specific objectives of the programme are to:

1. Prepare graduates of the programme for further study in a range of Social Sciences disciplines at Masters level. Emphasis will be placed on the integration of ELSS teaching across the programme.

2. Equip students with the critical writing and oral communications skills appropriate for work at Masters level in Social Sciences and other related disciplines.

3. Provide effective systems of learning, academic guidance and pastoral support to encourage the academic, intellectual and personal development of students.

4. Develop students’ skills in problem solving, decision-making, critical thinking, team working and interaction including planning, managing priorities, managing time and negotiating.

5. Equip students with the skills necessary to critically analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources.

6. Provide the opportunity for students to formulate ideas and concepts independently and to communicate them in a clear and supported manner.

7. Develop a sound knowledge and understanding of research epistemology, theory and practice as it relates to the Social Sciences.

8. Introduce core research skills including literature review, research methodology evaluation and selection, research design, empirical investigation and data collection, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, presentation of results, critical reflection in and on practice.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes: Cognitive Skills

On the completion of this course successful students will be able to:

1. Problem solve through the application of synthetic and analytic logical reasoning
2. Conduct independent enquiry, critical evaluation and interpretation, utilising peer reviewed journals
3. Demonstrate the ability to use general, academic, and interdisciplinary databases to identify key sources, scholarly and peer reviewed publications
4. Self-assess and reflect, working with personal tutors and drawing on the content of the individual learning log.
5. Understand the relationship between argument and evidence.

Teaching/Learning Methods and Strategies

Cognitive skills are developed across first and second term modules and focus particularly on problem solving and logical reasoning. Independent enquiry, critical evaluation and interpretation, abstraction and assimilation are key elements in all modules. Self-assessment and reflection are developed by formative feedback particularly on tutorial presentations.

Methods of Assessment

Assessment of cognitive skills, both summative and formative, occurs in the form of course assignments, oral presentations, project work and examinations.

Learning Outcomes: Transferable Skills

On the completion of this course successful students will be able to:

1. Construct arguments and exercise problem solving skills;
2. Apply critical reasoning and evaluate case studies against core theories.
3. Synthesise information/data from a variety of sources including from databases, books, journal articles and the internet;
4. Prepare and communicate ideas in both written and presentational forms;
5. Work both independently and in groups;
6. Organise and time manage as well as problem solve and analyse critically;
7. Comprehend and use relevant technologies

Teaching/Learning Methods and Strategies

Transferable skills development permeates the teaching and learning on the Graduate Diploma programme. Successful completion of coursework requires students to draw upon a range of sources, select and assimilate relevant information and to complete tasks within deadlines. ICT skills are consolidated throughout the course as an aid to report writing, visual presentation, literature searching and data handling. Although not formally assessed, qualities such as self-reliance, good time management and the ability to undertake independent study are fostered and encouraged throughout the course.

Methods of Assessment

Assessment of coursework requires students to use a range of media (e.g. critiques of journal articles, essays, PowerPoint or similar presentations, case studies) to demonstrate their learning.

Learning Outcomes: Knowledge & Understanding

On the completion of this course successful students will be able to:

1. Know the major approaches to empirical enquiry in the social sciences, understand the broad methodologies and when (and how) to use specific research methods, or a combination of methods, know how to evaluate these and how to manage their limitations
2. Appreciate the different forms of empirical enquiry, the development of arguments and critical exploration; the concept of falsifiability; the empirical and rational bases of research; qualitative and quantitative methods; primary and secondary sources of evidence;
3. Understand the ways in which individuals, organisations and communities frame their cultural context and the impact of this on the conduct of business across different regions and cultures;
4. Identify, understand, critically analyse and help find and evaluate solutions to challenges in the conduct of research in the social sciences.

Teaching/Learning Methods and Strategies

Knowledge-based subject-specific learning and teaching is provided through lectures, seminars, tutorials, group-work, directed reading, independent learning activities and computer-based learning materials.

Students’ knowledge and understanding will be assessed through a combination of unseen examinations, formal essays, class tests, individual and group projects, as well as individual and group oral presentations. Tutor moderated peer-informed assessment will contribute to the assessment of group work components.

Methods of Assessment

Both summative and formative assessment is used throughout all modules.

Summative assessment takes a variety of forms. In several modules formal examinations are used to gauge and assess understanding and the acquisition of knowledge. Work required for summative assessment (whether in the form of examinations, individual essays, individual or group presentations) will be judged against the Level 3 criteria in the University’s published conceptual equivalents scale.

Formative assessment will take three main forms; (i) weekly assignments in most of the modules aimed at promoting subject-specific understanding, logic, accurate written and (where required) graphical representation of information, and good presentation (ii) frequent and regular discussion of key theories and academic readings to develop understanding, logical argument and critical assessment and (iii) timely feedback on the content and performance of student presentations

Learning Outcomes: Subject Specific

On the completion of this course successful students will be able to:

Investigate, critically assess and present complex data and information sources as they relate to research in the social sciences

Teaching/Learning Methods and Strategies

Lectures, seminars, tutorials

Methods of Assessment

Examination, coursework, presentations (individual and group)

Module Information

Stages and Modules

Module Title Module Code Level/ stage Credits


Duration Pre-requisite


S1 S2 Core Option Coursework % Practical % Examination %
Foundations of Social Science NTO3015 1 20 YES YES 8 weeks N YES -- 50% 0% 50%
Research Design NTO3014 1 20 YES YES 8 weeks N YES -- 100% 0% 0%
Exploring Culture NTO3005 1 20 YES YES 8 weeks N YES -- 50% 0% 50%
Empirical Enquiry and Critical Thought NTO3003 1 20 YES YES 8 weeks N YES -- 100% 0% 0%
English Language and Study Skills NTO3001 1 40 YES YES 16 weeks N YES -- 40% 0% 60%


The four academic modules may be offered in either semester depending on student intake.
Please note that the British Council accredits the ELSS module for this programme.