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Short-cycle higher education


7.2.First-cycle programmes

7.2.2Short-cycle higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

University of Malta

Branches of study

The University of Malta offers programmes at Level 5 of Malta’s National Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning in a very wide variety of areas of study.  More information may be found from the University’s Find a Course facility on the website.

Admission requirements

Applicants must satisfy the General Entry Requirements for admission, namely:

• the Matriculation Certificate  and

• passes at Grade 5 or better in the Secondary Education Certificate (SEC) examinations in English Language, Maltese and Mathematics.

Applicants must also satisfy any other Special Course Requirements indicated for the course/area of study of their choice as specified in the bye-laws for the course.


The University of Malta, through its Faculties, Institutes, Centres and Schools has full academic autonomy and freedom to develop the nature, content and structure of the courses and programmes of studies. The University has implemented the Bologna Process with few or no changes needing to be carried out in some areas such as the three cycle system and a workload-based credit system as it had been operating this system for a number of years. Courses and programmes of study are developed and proposed by the Faculties, Institutes, Centres and Schools and approved by the Senate after having been processed by the Programme Validation Committee.

Each study-unit is assigned a code in accordance with the regulations, and students then are required to select a number of study-units according to the level weighting of each unit, as shown in the following Table:

 Level 0

Pre-tertiary or foundation or proficiency study-units.

 Level 1

Study-units normally offered in Year 1 of an undergraduate Course where it is assumed that the students have a general level of education at least meriting the award of the Matriculation Certificate. In Courses where admission is dependent on students being in possession of special course requirements, such as a pass in a subject taken at Advanced Level, lecturers can assume that students possess the pre-required knowledge.

 Levels 2 & 3

Study-units offered in Years 2 and 3 of an undergraduate Course. Level 3 credits are also offered in Year 4 of an undergraduate non-professional course. Lecturers can assume that students have the required skills associated with studying at tertiary level.

All study-units within courses are assigned credits according to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) which is the only credit system in operation at the University since 2003/4. The number of study hours students have to undertake is indicated by the number of ECTS credits assigned to the individual study-unit. The amount and level of credits making up each undergraduate short cycle qualification awarded by the University of Malta is found below:

University Undergraduate Award                                       


University Certificate

30 credits of which not less than 26 credits not below Level 1.

University Diploma

between 60 and 90 credits, as specified in the bye-laws for the Course, of which not more than 10 Level 0 and not less than 56 Level 1.

University Higher Diploma

between 60 and 120 credits, as specified in the bye-laws for the Course, of which not more than 10 Level 0 and not less than 56 Level 2.

Maltese and English are the two official languages of the University with teaching generally being delivered in English except where Maltese and foreign language studies are concerned. In these cases, the language being studied is utilized.

Teaching methods

Courses at the University of Malta are mainly of an academic nature and structured on the modular (study-unit) system. Courses which lead to professions such as education, engineering, medical and health sciences incorporate teaching, work placement, fieldwork and similar experiences as required.

The method of instruction varies according to course requirements. Generally, a variety of methods are adopted according to the topic being considered and to facilitate learning. Methodology varies and could include formal and non-formal lectures, seminars, group projects, tutorials, practical work in laboratories or workshops, fieldwork, depending on the type of programme of studies. The use of communication technologies is the norm. Lecturers are free to identify the best teaching methods and instruments required for the effective delivery of their credit.

Computerised library services are essential sources of reference for students’ studies. In many areas, the library offers online access to journals, electronic indexing services and bibliographical databases. Organised tours, lectures and bibliographical guides for students and information services help students with their research for dissertations. Reader services are also available with an inter-library loan and overseas photocopying services for material unattainable locally.

Student progression

Students following the different courses are expected to cover a number of study-units over one full-time academic year.

For diploma courses, students are awarded a total of 60 ECTS credits on successfully completing one full-time academic year. Once these 60 ECTS credits have been obtained students can register as regular students for the following year of their course.

Students who fail to obtain all the credits can sit for a supplementary session under certain conditions. Those students who after the supplementary session need not more than 10 ECTS credits in order to successfully complete the course programme for the year, whenever possible and after academic counselling by the Dean and /or the Head of Department, are given one of the three following options:

•    Refer the failed study-units to the following year to be done over and above the study-units indicated for that year, or

•    Repeat the unit in an additional year of studies if the student is in the final year of the course, or

•    Repeat the year, if eligible in terms of the regulations.

Those students who opt to refer failed units to the following year are progressed to the next year of studies and are considered as conditionally progressed students. Students who again fail the assessment of a referred study-unit in a normal session of examinations are allowed a final reassessment in the September supplementary session if they are eligible according to the regulations. Students are not allowed to continue the course if, after supplementary assessment sessions, they fail once again to obtain the required credits for any of the referred units. A study-unit may be referred to the following year only once.

Students who, by the end of a particular academic year of study, lack more than 20 of the credits required for their current year including credits for referred study-units are not allowed to sit for the supplementary session. These students are required to repeat the year if eligible in terms of the regulations. If they are not eligible to repeat a year, students are required to withdraw from the course. Students are allowed to repeat a year only once.

In the final year of a course students, who after the supplementary session of examinations, still need to successfully complete only one study-unit (normally a dissertation, a long essay or a project) to which more than 10 ECTS credits are assigned in order to successfully complete the course, may be allowed an extra year of study in which to complete the missing unit.

For students following certificate and diploma courses, the outlined principles and processes are valid, except that the number of credits will be established according to the outline in the course description.


Links between the world of education and that of employment are ongoing and continuously being enhanced. Initiatives are taken in a number of faculties, institutes and centres, to familiarize students with the world of work. These initiatives include actual placements, such as those of student teachers in the Faculty of Education, and industry linked projects in the Faculties of Engineering and ICT. Some courses incorporate work experiences as an integral part of the academic course. Courses in the Faculty of Health Sciences have direct work related periods. Students following nursing and other health sciences courses include work experiences in hospitals and/or clinics. A number of faculties organise study visits for students both locally and abroad.

During the summer vacation, students may opt to perform work, sometimes directly related to their studies, in various entities. A number of students may also be contracted to work for establishments in which they practise after they finish their diploma course. A number of professions require graduates to have a specified period of work experiences before being granted a warrant.

Students assessment

A student’s performance and progress is assessed in a number of ways. These could range from an assignment which could include either a relatively short or long written paper, an oral presentation, to a record of an experiment, an examination or any combination of these methods. The lecturer responsible for the study-unit determines the method of teaching and assessment. These methods of teaching and assessment for each study-unit are indicated in the study-unit description and published in the catalogue of study-units, following approval by Senate. All students on the same study-unit are assessed by the same method/s of assessment.

Synoptic study-units and all compulsory study-units conducted at the end of the last semester of any course leading to a diploma or an undergraduate degree normally include an examination component which contributes not less than 60% towards the final mark of the unit.

Any student who fails in any study-unit, except in a study-unit that is declared to be non-compensatable in a Programme of Studies, with a mark of not less than 35% and whose year mark average is at least 50%, can be awarded the grade of Compensatory Pass (CP)1 . Thus the credit is awarded for the unit by compensation and the study-unit is not required to be reassessed. Students who fail in any study-unit and who are not eligible for a compensatory pass are allowed a supplementary assessment under certain conditions.

(1 All study-units are deemed to be compensatable, i.e. may be passed by compensation for good performance in other study-units, except for those compulsory study-units that are declared to be non-compensatable in a Programme of Study and provided all conditions in terms of these regulations are satisfied.)


Certification classification is different for each award. Students following a Certificate course are awarded a general unclassified certificate.

Students following Diplomas and Higher Diplomas are awarded any of the following classifications:

•    Pass with Distinction

•    Pass with Merit

•    Pass

Malta College of Art, Science and Technology (MCAST)

Branches of study

Institute of Applied Science


Institute of Business Management and Commerce


Institute of Community Service

Higher Diploma in Advanced Studies in the Early Years

Institute of the Creative Arts


Institute of Engineering and Transport

Undergraduate Diploma in Auto Electronic and Electrical Technology

Higher Diploma in Masonry Heritage Skills (Kapumastru)

Undergraduate Diploma in Foundations of Engineering

Institute of Information and Communication Technology



The Admission Regulations can be found in the Prospectus on the MCAST website.


MCAST as a self-accrediting institution has full autonomy in developing curricula of study and training based on the concept of lifelong learning. Curriculum development is carried out in consultation with students, lecturers and stakeholders from  various economic sectors whilst taking into account the changing economic landscape. This ensures that knowledge, skills and competences within the Curriculum are relevant and appropriate. 

Teaching methods

As outlined in previous chapters, at MCAST teaching methods include both theoretical and practical sessions in laboratories and workshops with some courses including on-the-job training. Extensive use of ICT is made by staff and students alike. This is further enhanced through the state-of-the-art Library and Learning Resource Centre which supports students in their research activities to complete their assignments.

Progression of students

Many of the higher level courses offered by MCAST extend over a period of two or three years. Throughout each year students are expected to complete a number of units or modules and perform adequately in the assessments forming part of the programme. Students have an opportunity to re-attempt the necessary work when they do not manage to satisfy the entire unit’s learning outcomes. This is necessary if they intend to progress to the following year. Re-sits are subject to established regulations as specified in the course respective handbooks. When the academic performance of a candidate is considered insufficient, the student may qualify to complete the failed units in a subsequent year.


MCAST has a student support and advisory service which provides extensive services to students both with regard to full-time and part-time courses run at the various Institutes, as well as personal support which students can get both before and during their stay at MCAST.

The Guidance and Counselling service within MCAST also offers support and assistance to students in:

•    Vocational Guidance and Counselling – which aims at assisting students along their career path as well as identifying alternative paths.

•    Personal Counselling – which is more growth oriented aimed at helping, supporting and encouraging students in their daily challenges.

•    Group Activities – to facilitate students to work as a team.

Student assessment

A variety of assessment instruments including home-based assignments, group work, presentations, practical assessments etc. are used to gather and interpret evidence of student competence toward pre-established assessment criteria that are aligned to the Learning Outcomes of each unit of the programme of study.  Lecturers also  provide formative, ongoing feedback to students highlighting both the student strengths and possible areas for development and/or improvement. Through this learner-centred teaching, learning and assessment approach, students are offered an opportunity to demonstrate their progress in the learning process. 


All the courses offered by MCAST have been pegged to the Malta  Qualifications Framework (MQF) as issued by the Malta Further and Higher Education Authority . Full-time courses range from introductory Level A going up to Doctoral Level (MQF Level 8) MCAST also offers Part time courses from MQF Levels 1 - 8. The Doctoral programme at MQF Level 8 was launched in 2021.

MCAST issues Europass Certificate and Transcripts alongside the final certificate to candidates successfully completing courses up to MQF Level 4. MQF Level 5 candidates receive final certification and transcript of achievement while MQF Level 6 candidates receive the Europass diploma supplement alongside their degree certificate upon successful completion.

Bachelors Degrees are classified as follows:

•    First Class (80%-100%)

•    Second Class (Upper Division) (70%-79%)

•    Second Class (Lower division) (60%-69%)

•    Third Class (50%-59%)

MQF Level 7 candidates receive the Europass diploma supplement alongside their Masters degree certificate upon successful completion. Masters Degrees are classified as follows:

•    Distinction (80%- 100%)

•    Merit (65%-79%)

•    Pass (50%-64%)

Institute of Tourism Studies

Branches of study

Bachelor in Culinary Arts

Foundation in Hospitality & Tourism

Certificate in Travel & Tourism

Diploma in Travel & Tourism Operations

Higher National Diploma in Travel & Tourism Management

Certificate in Rooms Division

Diploma in Rooms Division Operations

Higher National Diploma in Rooms Division Management

Certificate in Food Preparation & Service

Diploma in Food & Beverage Service Operations

Higher National Diploma in Food & Beverage Management

Certificate in Food Preparation & Service

Diploma in Food Preparation & Production Operations

Higher National Diploma in Food Preparation & Production Management

Certificate in Events & Leisure

Diploma in Events & Leisure Operations

Higher National Diploma in Events & Leisure Management

Higher National Diploma in Tour Guiding


The entry criteria for all programmes may be found in the ITS prospectus.,


Through its innovative high quality lifelong learning academic programmes, the Institute of Tourism Studies trains people for tomorrow’s tourism industry. We direct our resources towards the development of inclusive programmes which facilitate technical, generic and behavioural skills and competencies, integrate theory and practice, and promote modern leadership approaches.

The values behind our vision are to:

• provide a student oriented style of curriculum which promotes creativity, innovation, participation, self-reflection, and personal independence;

• develop specialised technical, leadership and entrepreneurial skills in line with tomorrow’s industry trends and requirements;

• promote an international outlook whilst embracing differences between local and foreign cultures;

• promote professional development through lifelong learning opportunities for all levels within society;

• perform and solicit practices which are ethically correct and environmentally friendly; and

• individually guide, mentor and holistically develop our students.

Teaching methods

Within each module several instructional strategies will be used to cater the different learning styles.

The direct instruction strategy: lectures, didactic questionings, and explicit teaching will be used to provide information. These will be complemented with indirect instruction, where reflective discussion, concept formation and problem solving will be used. Total class discussions are used (interactive instruction) and emphasis is given to the process of learning and not on the product. Personalized reflection about an experience and the formulation of plans to apply learning to other contexts will be encouraged as they are critical factors in effective experiential learning.


The courses indicated above lead to a range of employment Opportunities in the Tourism sector. Employment Opportunities are huge and our students are highly sought after both in jobs related to kitchen and pastry, Service, rooms division, as well as events and leisure.  The following table is but a snapshot of some of the most popular Opportunities that these courses lead into.

Travel & Tourism

Rooms Division

Events & Leisure

Food & Beverages Service

Food Preparation &Production

Travel Agent

Front Office


Outside Catering Establishments



Tour Representative


Events/ Functions Organisation


Pastry Chef

Tourist Information Clerk



Banqueting Department

Events and Functions


Destination Management Companies




Head Waiter/Waitress


Travel Consultant

Night auditor




Cruise Liner Operations

Front Office Shift Leader

Cocktail Bartender




Guest Service Agent


Restaurant Sommelier


Student assessment

Assessment for the above courses is module based and each module will have one or more of the following forms of assessments: class assignments, examinations, practical examinations; Projects; presentations; on field assessment; home assignments.


The Higher National Diploma/ Diploma/Certificate/Foundation Certificate from the Institution will be awarded after the successful completion of the course.

Module assessment is graded according to the criteria set by ITS.

The ITS Certificates/ Diplomas are awarded on the following basis:

•    Distinction 85% and over

•    Merit 65% - 84%

•    Pass 50%- 64%

•    Fail 0% - 49%

ITS issues all certificates, diplomas and awards in the name in which the student is registered. ITS will only replace a lost certificate or diploma if the student applies on the appropriate form (from our Conferment Unit/Registrar) sworn declaration in front of a Commissioner for Oaths, and pays the appropriate fee. ITS replaces a damaged certificate or diploma free of charge if the original is returned to the Conferment Unit/Registrar. ITS only issues a replacement certificate or diploma which involves a change of name, in exceptional circumstances. However, student must provide the required evidence, return the original certificate or diploma and pay the appropriate fee.

ITS issues certification in standard format, i.e. each graduate is given a hard copy of the diploma an/or certificate together with a full transcript.  Moreover ITS is the first Maltese institution to start handing certificates as block-certs, i.e. electronic format.  The institute has just launched this platform and will be using it for all courses as from January 2018.