This section deals with the design of educational programmes by higher education institutions (HEIs) or by other providers. The use of ECTS credits aids programme design by providing a tool which improves transparency and helps to engender a more flexible approach to curriculum design and development.
From an institutional perspective, designing a programme means planning a curriculum and its components in credits, indicating learning outcomes and associated workload, learning activities and teaching methods and assessment procedures/criteria. The institutional credit framework should cater for the needs of different programmes and support inter- and multi-disciplinary approaches.
The use of ECTS in HEIs requires both an institutional credit framework based on institutional regulations and a profound understanding of the system by each member of the academic staff. Some institutions foster this understanding by regular training for staff members. Team-based decisions on programme design enhance the coherence of the programme.
An independent learner may accumulate the credits required for the achievement of a qualification through a variety of learning modes. She/he may acquire the required knowledge, skills and competence in formal, non-formal and informal contexts: this can be the result of an intentional decision or the outcome of different learning activities over time. The learner may select educational components without immediate orientation towards a formal qualification. ECTS supports this process, as described in Lifelong Learning.
The following steps have been identified as helpful in designing programmes.