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Assigning curricula and course implementation to the EQF

Curricula are often understood as key instruments in adapting education and training to changing requirements[1]
. This is certainly true if curricula are not considered separately, but in connection with instruments to identify and determine work requirements, and with assessment procedures which are based on these statements. With regard to the EQF, curricula (or the actual course implementation) actually only play a secondary role: The “classical” user of the EQF wants to know what an individual is able to do within work processes, and he is not interested in the way how these abilities were acquired.

Curricula describe ways how this happens within institutionalised learning sequences, but this is not the only possibility how abilities can be developed: They might also be the outcome of non-formal and informal learning; this is explicitly mentioned in the relevant EQF document.

Nevertheless, the majority of qualification processes still takes places on the basis of curricula, and if we reflect how the learning outcomes defined in EQF categories can be best achieved, it is certainly sensible to consider how curricula can facilitate this:

  • First and utmost, curricula should include a description of these learning to be achieved outcomes (which have to be derived from work processes), and they should clarify how learning sequences foreseen in the curriculum contribute to achieving these learning outcomes.

  • It should also be noted which assessment procedures are available and how these refer to the specific quality of the abilities to be assessed.

  • Moreover, the curriculum should include information about education and training pathways, also showing which alternative ways are possible, in particular, if parts of training/education are useable in the context of various professional activities. As a consequence, the curriculum should be structured in a modular way; this enables learners to combine learning units according to their career objectives. But it should be reflected that this only works if modularisation mirrors structures of real work and does not primarily follow organisational requirements of the curriculum. This requirement is met if the subdivision of a curriculum agrees with the separation of work process units.

There are further topics which could play a role in the context of curricula design and implementation:


Following this argumentation, a curriculum ideally covers the following elements facilitating reference to the EQF:

  • Title and definition of the curriculum
  • Reference to the work processes[2] via occupational profiles or equivalent instruments[3]
  • Learning outcomes derived from the requirements of work processes, described in terms of abilities expressed in the EQF descriptors knowledge, skills and competencies (see “occupation profiles” for further information)
  • Education and training pathways to which the curriculum refers
  • Indications on the assessment of the required abilities

Please find examples for such EQF assigned curricula/ courses here.

[1] See e.g. CEDEFOP, Learning outcomes approaches in VET curricula, A comparative analysis of nine countries, p.136.

[2] In this context, it should be reflected that traditional studies in Higher Education implicitly or explicitly refer to scientific work.


[3] Since not in every country exist occupational profiles, there might be other ways to determine the reference of curricula to work processes. Be that as it may, it is crucial that learning outcomes steering curricula refer to the work process as an ensemble of actions following common aims, and not only  encompass a list of not connected abilities which have been collected on the basis of an empirical analysis of the (mostly only  technically understood) status quo. Otherwise fragmentation of work (which at certain levels is certainly a reality) will become the leading principle for  all training and education under the flag of EQF appropriate learning outcome orientation. 


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