Programme director's handbook

Formulating degree requirements clearly in Sisu

Clearly formulated degree requirements make planning studies easier. This page contains instructions on how to formulate degree requirements clearly.

The degree requirements of programmes are entered into Sisu based on the approved curricula. Students use the degree requirements template in Sisu as a basis when drawing up their personal study plans. A set of rules defined based on the programme structure in Sisu ensures that in most cases, the students personal study plans will automatically comply with the degree requirements.

When the degree structure is planned so that automated rules may be used, it is easier for students to plan their studies and get a good overview of their degree at the start of their studies without their study choices requiring formal approval by the university’s administrative staff.  

Simplify the structure

A clear and simple structure can

  • simplify students’ study planning 
  • help students to get off to a smooth start with their studies, as they will have a straightforward study path and order in which to take their studies 
  • help students to complete their degrees within the target time 
  • streamline the planning of timetables and help to avoid schedule conflicts 
  • make the task of advising and guiding students easier 
  • free up time for the school staff so they can advise students and support teachers 

Recommendations on degree requirements

The following recommendations apply to all study modules (basic studies, majors, minors, etc.)

Prefer study modules and study module components that do not depend on other modules 

Sisu does not allow designing degree requirements that contain choices which directly affect the choices to be made within another study module. This applies also to selection rules within study modules. If the degree requirements of the programme have such structures, each student must apply for approval for such study choices. As a result, the student may have difficulty getting an overview of their personal study plan before Learning Services or academic staff have processed their applications.

Example 1: 

  • Avoid this: ‘You can either choose a 40-credit major and a minor, or you can choose a 60-credit major and no minor.’ 
  • Do this: ‘Choose courses towards your major and minor so that the total scope of your degree is at least 180 credits.’ 

Example 2: 

  • Avoid this: ‘Choose courses that allow you to earn 0–10 credits towards the elective studies of your major so that the total scope of your major is 60 credits.’
  • Do this: ‘Choose courses that allow you to earn 10 credits towards the elective studies of your major.’ (If needed, the course selection here may include some of the same courses as the other elements of the major, so that there are no interdependencies between the different elements of the major).

Always use the number of credits as a criterion when formulating selection rules for compulsory courses 

If the student needs to select courses among the compulsory courses of a study module, please do not use the number of courses to be completed to formulate a selection rule in Sisu. If you do, Sisu will allow the student to transfer a course to another study module where the same course is already included as an option (e.g. from the compulsory studies towards the major to the minor study module). 


  • Avoid this: ‘Choose one of the two courses.’ + a selection rule in the programme structure in Sisu: ‘Complete 1 course.’
  • Do this: ‘Choose one of the two courses.’ + a selection rule in the programme structure in Sisu: ‘Choose X credits, where X is the scope in credits of the courses that may be selected. 

Ensure that the study module scope (in credits) is consistent with module content

A study module may contain both compulsory and elective courses. If students can choose studies within a module, make sure the choices allow the student to get the required number of credits. 


  • Avoid this: ’Choose courses so that their total scope is 10 credits.’ + the courses to be selected among include 5- and 6-credit courses (although the student should be able to choose any combination of two courses). 
  • Do this: ‘Choose a total of 10–12 credits among the following courses.’ 

List in the Sisu structure all of the courses that belong to the study module

If the degree requirements allow students to either add or suggest the addition of courses that are not part of the study module, each student with such study modules must obtain separate approval for the modules. To avoid this, the degree requirements should list all the courses among which the student may choose, instead of using expressions like ‘other relevant courses’. The student can always request to complete courses outside of the study module structure, but they should not be included in the degree requirements.

Other instructions related to this stage

Curriculum information about programmes and study modules

This page describes what information goes into a programme and study module curriculum.

Programme director's handbook

Curriculum information about courses

A course is a part of studies that covers a specific topic, content or competence area. The curriculum defines the course contents, implementation methods and other course information that is valid for the whole curriculum period.

Programme director's handbook

How to update course information in the Curriculum Planner

The Curriculum Planner is a tool for the courses’ responsible teachers to update their course information.

Programme director's handbook

To the main page Curriculum design at Aalto University

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Curriculum design at Aalto University

Aalto University’s curriculum design guidelines and schedule aims at supporting sustainable, future led degree programmes.

Programme director's handbook
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