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Spain:Second Cycle Programmes

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Overview Spain

Contents

Spain:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Spain:Historical Development

Spain:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Spain:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Spain:Political and Economic Situation

Spain:Organisation and Governance

Spain:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Spain:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Spain:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Spain:Organisation of Private Education

Spain:National Qualifications Framework

Spain:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Spain:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Spain:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Spain:Funding in Education

Spain:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Spain:Higher Education Funding

Spain:Adult Education and Training Funding

Spain:Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Organisation of Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Assessment in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:Primary Education

Spain:Organisation of Primary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Spain:Assessment in Primary Education

Spain:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Spain:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Spain:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

Spain:Vocational Lower Secondary Education: Basic Vocational Training cycles

Spain:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

Spain:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Spain:Higher Education

Spain:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Spain:First Cycle Programmes

Spain:Bachelor

Spain:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Spain:Second Cycle Programmes

Spain:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Spain:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Spain:Adult Education and Training

Spain:Distribution of Responsibilities

Spain:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Spain:Main Providers

Spain:Main Types of Provision

Spain:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Spain:Teachers and Education Staff

Spain:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Spain:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Management and Other Education Staff

Spain:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Spain:Management Staff for Higher Education

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Spain:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Quality Assurance

Spain:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Spain:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Educational Support and Guidance

Spain:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Spain:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Spain:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Spain:Mobility and Internationalisation

Spain:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Mobility in Higher Education

Spain:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Spain:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Spain:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Spain:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Spain:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Spain:National Reforms in School Education

Spain:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Spain:National Reforms in Higher Education

Spain:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Spain:European Perspective

Spain:Legislation

Spain:Institutions

Spain:Bibliography

Spain:Glossary

Master's degree programmes have two goals:

  • to provide students with advanced specialised or multidisciplinary training, geared towards academic or professional specialisation
  • the acquisition of basic research skills.

The workload required in a Master's degree programme ranges from 60 to 120 credits of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

They belong to Level 3 of the Spanish Qualification Framework for Higher Education (MECES), and they are defined according to the following learning outcomes:

  • have acquired advanced knowledge and to be able to demonstrate, within scientific, technological or highly specialised contexts, detailed and proven comprehension of theoretical and practical features related to one or more fields of study, as well as an expertise in the relevant methodological work procedures
  • be able to integrate and apply knowledge, understanding, scientific foundations and problem-solving abilities to new or loosely defined environments, including multidisciplinary research and professional contexts which require high levels of specialisation
  • be able to evaluate and select appropriate scientific theories, as well as adequate methodological tools, within an area of studies, so as to build hypotheses on the basis of incomplete or limited information, including, whenever necessary and pertinent, a reflection on the social and ethical responsibilities which the proposed solutions may entail
  • be able to predict and control the possible outcomes of complex situations, by means of developing new and original work methodologies, adapted to the specific scientific, research, technological or professional field, usually multidisciplinary, where the activity is being developed
  • be able to convey information to all types of audiences, in a clear, unequivocal way, regarding the results of scientific and technological research or of activities developed in pioneering areas, as well as about the most relevant theoretical foundations underpinning these results
  • have developed the necessary level of autonomy in order to participate in research projects and in scientific or technical joint ventures within their area of specialisation, working in multidisciplinary contexts which may also require a high component of knowledge transfer
  • be able to take on responsibility over one’s professional development and specialisation in one or more fields of study.

Master’s degrees can have three orientations:

  1. Professionally oriented Master’s degrees:
  • which entitle the holder to perform a professional activity that is regulated: they are an essential requirement in order to be able to pursue the relevant profession
  • which do not entitle the holder to perform a professional activity that is regulated: they provide students with advanced, specialised or multidisciplinary training.
  1. Academically oriented Master’s degrees: they aim to look in depth at an academic or scientific field
  2. Research oriented Master’s degrees: they focus on the acquisition of basic research skills.

Universities decide the orientation of the Master’s degrees they offer.

They must meet the requirements established by the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA) in order to be accredited and included in the Registry of Universities, Centres and Degrees (RUCT).

Branches of study

At the proposal of the university offering the programme, they are associated to one of the following knowledge branches:

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Experimental Sciences
  • Health Sciences
  • Social Sciences and Law
  • Engineering and Architecture.

Admission requirements

In order to apply for admission in Master's Programmes, candidates must hold an official university degree, issued by a Spanish university or by a higher education institution within the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), which qualifies for admission at this level.

Students who fulfil this prerequisite may be accepted into the programme on the basis of specific criteria regarding academic merit. These criteria may be related to the specific degree they are applying for or established by each university. In the later case, universities must include in the programme description a list of procedures and admission requirements, such as, for example, whether candidates need to have specific previous training in certain areas or subjects.

As regards to students with special educational needs arising from disability, admission procedures must provide for the adequate support and guidance services in order to evaluate possible adaptations of the curriculum, alternative learning paths or study programmes. For more information, see Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education.

Each university decides on the number of students who may be admitted to Master's degree programmes.

Curriculum

It has a length of one or two academic years.

Universities have autonomy to design their own curriculum, which must include:

  • core subjects
  • optional subjects
  • seminars
  • external placements
  • supervised projects
  • Master’s theses 
  • evaluation activities and other assessment criteria, as well as any other specific programme features.

Once the curriculum has been drawn up, it is submitted to the University Council for validation, according to the procedures established by the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA). 

University Master's degree programmes require students to write and defend a Master’s thesis, which is awarded between 6 and 30 ECTS credits.

Teaching methods

Universities have full autonomy to decide on the teaching methods used for their provision.

University departments are responsible for the organisation of teaching and research activities in their respective subjects or knowledge areas.

Teachers are free to follow the methodological principles and pedagogical methods they wish, and to resort to the resources they consider most appropriate for their activity.

Teachers use different teaching methods at university, being lectures the most common practice. It is becoming increasingly more common to resort to other types of activities, such as seminars, cooperative work, learning based on problem-solving activities, project-based learning, etc.

Practical classes are very frequent in experimental studies.

The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom is quite frequent. Most universities have technology support services for teachers, so as to help them devise multimedia materials and to encourage their use of ICTs. Presentations by means of computers or overhead projectors are also common practice, as well as the use of videos, computer-assisted learning, etc. Teacher/student communication through the Internet or through virtual classrooms, online platforms, virtual spaces for specific subjects, websites, and so on is also frequent.

Progression of students

Universities establish the conditions for the promotion of the students, as well as the minimum and maximum periods that a student may remain in a programme.

In order to pass a subject, students are allowed to sit examinations for a limited number of times. Students have between four and six attempts depending on the degree programme or institution. Moreover, they are allowed to take final examinations for the same subject only twice a year. 

Employability

The improvement of employability of university graduates is a constant source of concern for Education Authorities and universities.

In order to deal with this problem, the following principles must underpin university education:

  • include in their study plans abilities and skills oriented towards innovation, creativity, business initiative and entrepreneurship, incorporating them into the different subjects, concepts and cross-curricular competences, in learning methods and in assessments
  • make proposals for new degrees and educational provision which prepare students for the qualifications required by new employment needs so as to improve employability of citizens in the labour market
  • promote adaptability to social and economic changes, providing citizens with opportunities for ongoing professional development and extension of university studies; and to increase the possibilities for mobility in education within Spain and in Europe, as well as the effective incorporation of university graduates into the labour market, strengthening the links between universities and the business world, paying special attention to the promotion of competences for entrepreneurship and self-employment.

Several opportunities for collaboration between universities and the productive sector exist, such as:

  • creation of technology-based innovation companies
  • establishment of innovation poles, by means of providing a common physical space for universities and companies in the production sector
  • launching and promotion of programmes to enhance transfer and appreciation of knowledge
  • creation of consortiums for research and the transfer of knowledge
  • creation of corporate-sponsored university chairs, based on the collaboration in research projects which allow university students to participate and combine their research activity with training opportunities.

Both in the regulations for university education and in the University Student Statute, there are a series of specific measures aimed at promoting university student employability, such as:

  • universities offer students mobility programmes through university cooperation agreements. These programmes pay attention to academic training related to the degree in which the student is enrolled, and to other competence areas, such as training for employment. For more information, see Mobility in higher education
  • external work placement allows students to increase and apply the knowledge acquired during their academic training, contributing to the acquisition of competences that will prepare them for their future professional career
  • student information and guidance services, the aim of which is to provide information and orientation regarding learning itineraries and future professional opportunities, training in cross-curricular competences and design of professional projects, in order to facilitate student employability and insertion in the labour market
  • student guidance and monitoring, by which coordinators or student advisors provide guidance to students throughout the programme, regarding their learning process as well as their professional prospects in the labour market.
  • creation of alumni associations for former students, registered at universities. One of their goals is to collaborate actively in providing access to the labour market to university graduates.

For more information, see Educational Support and Guidance.

Student assessment

Universities must verify the knowledge acquired by students, as well as the development of their intellectual training and their academic achievements. In order to do so, it is necessary to establish assessment regulations.

Evaluation objectives, tools, procedures, activities and criteria are set up in the syllabi of each programme, and fall under the responsibility of university departments and teachers.

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is fully implemented. The European credit is the unit for academic accreditation, it represents the amount of work that a student must complete in order to attain the programme's objectives. Each ECTS credit represents between 25 and 30 class hours.

In order to obtain the number of ECTS credits assigned to a subject, both in practical or theoretical learning or in any other academic activity, students must pass the exams or assessment procedures established for that area.

The results obtained by students in each subject, which appear in the student’s record. They receive a numerical mark from 0 to 10, with a decimal position, which can be followed by a qualitative mark:

  • 0-4.9:  fail
  • 5.0–6.9: pass
  • 7.0–8.9: very good
  • 9.0–10: excellent.

Students may also be awarded an Excellent mark 'with Distinction', when the student has been given a 9.0 or higher. The number of students receiving this special mention cannot be higher than 5% of the total students enrolled in a subject in an academic year. If this number is lower than 20, only one Excellent with Distinction may be awarded.

In addition, students must receive a positive evaluation in the defence and submission of the Master’s thesis.

Accredited professional and work experience may also be recognised in terms of ECTS credits, with validity to obtain a Master’s degree, provided that the experience is related with the competences inherent to the qualification.

Certification

On successful completion of the programme, students receive a Master’s degree in the relevant field of studies. The diploma bears the exact name of the qualification, according to the Registry of Universities, Centres and Degrees (RUCT).

The diploma is issued, on behalf of the King of Spain, by the university Vice-Chancellor. It has official validity nationwide, and qualifies for regulated professional practice, under the conditions established in the relevant official documents.

The diploma certifies that the holder has acquired the competences assigned to Level 3 of the MECES.

As a result of the process of adaptation to the EHEA, a new procedure has been established, by means of which universities may issue the European Diploma Supplement, upon request of the person concerned. For more information, see Conditions for the issuance of the Diploma Supplement (Bachelor and Master degrees).