Student course session (StudentCourseSession)

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Student course session
Short Name
A Student course session records a specific student's activity for a course.
Uniquely Identified By
Applicable To
England Northern Ireland Scotland Wales

All Engagements, except where a dormant student is being returned to give a qualification outcome


A StudentCourseSession associates a student with the course that the student is engaging with. In most cases, the StudentCourseSession will represent a year of the student's study.

The StudentCourseSession is also associated with the relevant SessionYear that reflects the planned start date of the year of programme they are engaging with.

The associated SessionYear will represent a year of the programme. The dates returned on the StudentCourseSession will reflect the start and end of the student's activity within that session year. The StudentCourseSession dates may therefore differ from the SessionYear dates if the student starts the year late or leaves early.

Please see the SessionYear guidance for guidance on returning SessionYears.

StudentCourseSessions must be returned in line with the following principles:

  • The start and end dates of the StudentCourseSesion must fall between the start and end dates of the associated SessionYear.
  • StudentCourseSessions must not be longer than a year
  • An Engagement cannot have overlapping StudentCourseSessions
  • If a student transfers between different courses within the same Engagement, only the position at the end of the reference period needs to be returned. The only time a StudentCourseSession should be closed for a transfer of course, is where a different cadence of SessionYear is required (e.g. due to the change of cohorts) and in these cases the first StudentCourseSession must be closed and a new StudentCourseSession opened associated with the new SessionYear.
  • Once submitted, a StudentCourseSession must continue to be returned until the StudentCourseSession.SCSENDDATE is returned to indicate it has ended. If there is no activity for an open StudentCourseSession in a given reference period, the StudentCourseSession would still be returned with the FTE information and SessionStatus indicating that the student is dormant.

The actual planned start date of the course must be within 14 days of the SessionYear.SYSTARTDATE. As it is the planned start date of the course, we would only expect to see a StudentCourseSession.SCSSTARTDATE outside of the 14 days if the student joins the course late (which may include transfers). An exception to this is where a student may enter their study with some previously awarded credit points or Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) and the StudentCourseSession.SCSSTARTDATE could be outside of the 14 days.

Postgraduate research, fully flexible and credit accumulation courses

For these courses, StudentCourseSessions are not required to be associated with a SessionYear as the flexible nature of these programmes means that the concepts of a planned start date and end date often do not apply. When a student starts studying one of these courses, a StudentCourseSession is returned associated with the relevant course with the StudentCourseSession.SCSSTARTDATE indicating the students start date. From this point, yearlong StudentCourseSessions would be returned until the student completed their studies with the final StudentCourseSession having a StudentCourseSession.SCSENDDATE indicating their actual end date. Each StudentCourseSession would therefore start at the same point in each year of the students studies.

Where a StudentCourseSession is not linked to a SessionYear (in the case of postgraduate research, fully flexible and credit accumulation courses) the length of the StudentCourseSession must not be longer than one year plus four days. 

Accelerated courses

Accelerated courses provide students with the opportunity to study for a qualification over a shorter period of time than is typical, by increasing the intensity of study during the academic year. For example, a first degree being completed in 2 years instead of the usual 3 years or an HND completed in 12 months instead of the usual 2 years. Accelerated provision can occur at any level of qualification.

A variety of terms are in use for qualifications which are accelerated, including fast-track, two-year, compressed, time-compressed, condensed and intensive.

Accelerated provision should be reflected in a higher ReferencePeriodStudentLoad rather than additional StudentCourseSessions. For example, a course which is delivered over 2 years instead of the usual 3 years would be captured within 2 StudentCourseSessions, each with a higher RPSTULOAD to reflect the greater intensity of the provision, rather than 3 StudentCourseSessions condensed into 2 academic years, each with a regular RPSTULOAD.

Students entering with previously awarded credits or Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) 

For students entering their Engagement with previously awarded credits or Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) the first StudentCourseSession may be shorter than a year to reflect the fact the student did not undertake the first part of their studies.  

For providers in England the EntryProfile.APELCRD or EntryProfile.CRDPTSTU fields identify these types of students. For providers in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales this will need to be explained and tolerated in the collection system.   

If any previously awarded credits or APEL modules apply in the middle of a student’s study pattern, this would not have an effect on the start dates or length of StudentCourseSession.  

Quality Rules
Quality rules to follow
Reason Required
To allow linking between students and courses, to hold information regarding a student's study including mode, FTE, type of activity and fees and funding information.
Minimum Occurrences0
Maximum Occurrences
Child Fields
Child Entities
Revision History
Coding Manual VersionElement VersionNotes clarified regarding students who transfer between Courses within the same Engagement. and an example provided to the guidance notes on accelerated courses. Guidance amended to include credit accumulation courses. Coverage updated for clarification and consistency. notes updated to include information on students entering with Accreditation of Prior Experimental Learning (APEL). added to clarify that where a student has previously awarded credit points or Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) the StudentCourseSession.SCSSTARTDATE could be outside of the 14 days.