La Universitat - Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

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About teaching activity

How is the time for student work calculated in a subject?

Each of the activities and tasks expected by the student is assigned a time schedule that we consider reasonable for it to be carried out according to the planning prepared for the subject. It will be necessary to consider the maximum number of conditions required by the student (amount of content that needs to be consulted and researched, resources available, number of assessments that have to be done, etc.)

We will assign the time according to our teaching experience and with a student of average learning ability in mind. The total number of hours necessary to satisfactorily complete the activities and tasks planned will have to be adjusted to the calculation of 25 hours for each subject credit.

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What do we understand by professional profile?

In the framework of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), universities are responsible for creating professionals who are capable and competent in the professional fields associated to the qualification or programme. Therefore, the design of a study programme involves dealing with the professional profile as a baseline, understood as the set of characteristics that define a specific professional function which may correspond to different qualification levels.

The professional profiles refer to the professional context and they describe the competences or skills that it is necessary to bring into play in this environment to carry out an activity effectively and efficiently. Its definition has been implemented in the majority of disciplines and has been specified in various documents which have become reference points for designing degree courses.

Some of these reference points are the following:


  • Degree white papers.
  • The Tuning Project.
  • Study plans that existed before the EHEA.
  • Social actors (professional associations, trade unions, professional and business societies…).
  • Prestigious higher education institutions or universities themselves.

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What is competence?

Competence is the group of skills that a person puts into practice when carrying out their professional and academic activity in an efficient, independent and flexible way.

To achieve competence involves the combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that enable a qualified person to undertake the resolution of problems in academic, professional or social contexts.

From higher education, university and adult education, the design according to competences helps us to prepare programmes based on academic and professional profiles that meet the environment’s needs. Not just a list of subject matter or content to be taught or learnt, the design according to competences contributes to reducing the distance that exists between education and the reality of the labour market which has traditionally characterised the university institution.

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How is competence formulated?

Competence indicates the real command of a task or skill achieved by means of a process. We will express the result of this process as a skill acquired by doing a specific activity or through a verbal noun. Here are some examples:

a) “Capacity to” + verb that expresses the activity expected at the end of the process. For example:


  • Capacity to design and carry out experiments.
  • Capacity to analyse and interpret information.
  • Capacity to deal with digital information.
  • Capacity to apply mathematical, scientific and technical skills.

b) Noun that expresses the activity expected at the end of the process. For example:


  • Maintenance of telecommunications electronic equipment or services.
  • Command of professional vocabulary and languages appropriate for effective communication.
  • Operating systems planning.
  • Telecommunications network management.

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How are the competences classified in the UOC?

They are divided into three groups: specific to the qualification, transversal and inherent to the UOC

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What are specific competences?

They are the competences related to the knowledge (know) and skills (know-how) relevant to each qualification. They cannot be transferred outside of the professional field linked to the area of knowledge.

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What are transversal competences?

These are the competences that can be shared between qualifications. They are related to both attitudes and values (know how to be) and to procedures (know-how). They can be transferred outside of the specific professional field. For example, they can be transversal competences to other qualifications and areas of knowledge:


  • Capacity to structure information. 
  • Team work. 
  • Decision-making.
  • Capacity to analyse and synthesise.
  • Command of a foreign language.

Each of these competences is specified in a different way to each of the areas of knowledge linked to a qualification or to various programmes.

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What are the competences inherent to the UOC?

The transversal competences inherent to the UOC are: The use and command of a foreign language, the use and application of ICT, enterprising initiative and written expression. These competences have a differential feature in terms of qualifications of other universities. They can be referred to as skills and as procedures and attitudes.

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What are the learning objectives?

This is the group of knowledge, skills and attitudes, expressed with regard to learning, which the student has to achieve during the course of the subject. The achievement of the learning objectives of each signature contributes to acquiring the competences of the programme.

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How are the learning objectives formulated?

The objectives are the expression of learning outcomes expected from which a process begins that will end with the assessment. These outcomes are defined by the infinitive verb form.

While the learning objective expresses an action that has to be carried out by the person learning, the type of verb that we will use will always refer to the student, not to the person who teaches, directs or motivates their learning. For example, the following are learning objectives of the different subjects of the UOC:


  • To understand the possible causes of seismic movements in Central America.
  • To describe the basic Romanesque features in Catalonia.
  • To define the concept of the general accounting plan.

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Will the subjects stop having objectives due to the fact that they are designed by competences?

Not necessarily. The competences correspond to the skills that a student will have achieved and demonstrated by completing a study programme and obtaining a qualification. The competences are complex constructs and to acquire them, it is necessary to achieve a group of learning objectives that can be associated to one or more subjects of a qualification.

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How will the competences affect the assessment of a subject?

If the subject is coherently and comprehensively designed, the competences should make very few changes to the assessment. The learning assessment in each subject should respond to the student’s achievement level of the objectives. As these will have been defined taking the programme’s competences into account, the achievement of the objectives already includes their procurement or implementation.

On the other hand, it is recommended to use an activity type to assess competences which integrates the interrelated exercise of the various actions and skills involved in these competences.

Eg. Complex activities to resolve cases, WebQuest or project development.

In addition, in the framework of a European qualification, competence is not totally assessed in one subject. It is assessed in various subjects throughout the qualification.

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