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Choice Based Credit System (CBCS)

Choice Based Credit System (CBCS)

With the inception of autonomy, the institution switched to the Choice based Credit system as advocated by the UGC (based on the recommendations of the eleventh Five year Plan, March 2009); urging all Indian Higher Education institutions, (HEI’s), to introduce the semester system, minimum credit requirements in each semester, an uniform grading system and overall academic & administrative reforms.

Advantages of the CBCS

  • Shift in focus from teacher-centric to student-centric education.
  • Students may undertake as many credits as they can cope with, enroll in additional courses and acquire more than the required number of credits
  • CBCS allows students to choose inter-disciplinary, intra-disciplinary courses, skill oriented courses (even from other disciplines according to their learning needs, interests, and aptitude)
  • The choice based credit system provides a ‘cafeteria’ type approach in which the students can take courses of their choice, learn at their own pace
  • The  credit  based  semester  system  provides  flexibility  in  designing  curriculum  and assigning credits based on the course content and hours of teaching
  • An uniform grading system in all the Indian higher education institutions instead of the conventional numeric scores and marks.  The emphasis is on the computation of the cumulative grade point average (CGPA)  based on the performance of students in the examinations.
  • Students can make the best use of the expertise of available faculty

Outline of Choice Based Credit System

  1. Core Course: A course, which should compulsorily be studied by a candidate as a core requirement is termed as a Core course.
  2. Elective Course: Generally a course which can be chosen from a pool of courses and which may be very specific or specialized or advanced or supportive to the discipline/ subject of study or which provides an extended scope or which enables an exposure to some other discipline/subject/domain or nurtures the candidate’s proficiency/skill is called an Elective Course.

2.1 Discipline Specific Elective (DSE) Course: Elective courses may be offered by the main discipline/subject of study is referred to as Discipline Specific Elective. The University/Institute may also offer discipline related Elective courses of interdisciplinary nature (to be offered by main discipline/subject of study).

2.2 Dissertation/Project: An elective course designed to acquire special/advanced knowledge, such as supplement study/support study to a project work, and a candidate studies such a course on his own with an advisory support by a teacher/faculty member is called dissertation/project.

2.3 Generic Elective (GE) Course: An elective course chosen generally from an unrelated discipline/subject, with an intention to seek exposure is called a Generic Elective. P.S.: A core course offered in a discipline/subject may be treated as an elective by other discipline/subject and vice versa and such electives may also be referred to as Generic Elective.

  1. Ability Enhancement Courses (AEC): The Ability Enhancement (AE) Courses may be of two kinds: Ability Enhancement Compulsory Courses (AECC) and Skill Enhancement Courses (SEC). “AECC” courses are the courses based upon the content that leads to Knowledge enhancement; i. Environmental Science and ii. English/MIL Communication. These are mandatory for all disciplines. SEC courses are value-based and/or skill-based and are aimed at providing hands-on-training, competencies, skills, etc.

3.1 Ability Enhancement Compulsory Courses (AECC) or Foundation Courses : Environmental Science, English Communication/MIL Communication.

3.2 Skill Enhancement Courses (SEC): These courses may be chosen from a pool of courses designed to provide value-based and/or skill-based knowledge.

* Introducing Research Component in Under-Graduate Courses Project work/Dissertation is considered as a special course involving application of knowledge in solving / analyzing /exploring a real life situation / difficult problem. A Project/Dissertation work would be of 6 credits. A Project/Dissertation work may be given in lieu of a discipline specific elective paper.

Key terms – Choice Based Credit System

  • Academic Year: Two consecutive (one odd + one even) semesters constitute one academic year.
  • Choice Based Credit System (CBCS): The CBCS provides choice for students to select from the prescribed courses (core, elective or minor or soft skill courses).
  • Course: Usually referred to, as ‘papers’ is a component of a programme. All courses need not carry the same weight. The courses should define learning objectives and learning outcomes. A course may be designed to comprise lectures/ tutorials/laboratory work/ fieldwork/ outreach activities/ project work/ vocational training/viva/ seminars/ term papers/assignments/ presentations/ self-study etc. or a combination of some of these.
  • Credit Based Semester System (CBSS): Under the CBSS, the requirement for awarding a degree or diploma or certificate is prescribed in terms of number of credits to be completed by the students.
  • Credit Point: It is the product of grade point and number of credits for a course.
  • Credit: A unit by which the course work is measured. It determines the number of hours of instructions required per week. One credit is equivalent to one hour of teaching (lecture or tutorial) or two hours of practical work/field work per week.
  • Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA): It is a measure of overall cumulative performance of a student over all semesters. The CGPA is the ratio of total credit points secured by a student in various courses in all semesters and the sum of the total credits of all courses in all the semesters. It is expressed up to two decimal places.
  • Grade Point: It is a numerical weight allotted to each letter grade on a 10-point scale.
  • Letter Grade: It is an index of the performance of students in a said course. Grades are denoted by letters O, A+, A, B+, B, C, P and F.
  • Programme: An educational programme leading to award of a Degree, diploma or certificate.
  • Semester Grade Point Average (SGPA): It is a measure of performance of work done in a semester. It is ratio of total credit points secured by a student in various courses registered in a semester and the total course credits taken during that semester. It shall be expressed up to two decimal places.
  • Semester: Each semester will consist of 15-18 weeks of academic work equivalent to 90 actual teaching days. The odd semester may be scheduled from July to December and even semester from January to June.
  • Transcript or Grade Card or Certificate: Based on the grades earned, a grade certificate shall be issued to all the registered students after every semester. The grade certificate will display the course details (code, title, number of credits, grade secured) along with SGPA of that semester and CGPA earned till that semester.

Minimum Credit requirements as per the University of Madras Guidelines for the Various Programs: Students can earn additional credits under the CBCS system but must fulfil the minimum requirements prescribed by each department for Core, Elective, Allied, Foundation and other Compulsory courses listed under Part I, II, III, IV & V for Undergraduate programs and Part I & II for Postgradaute programs.






Undergraduate B.Com. Honours




M.C.A. (3 Years )


M.C.A. (2 Years)



Sources:  University of Madras CBCS Handbook, 2020-2021 & UGC Guidelines on Adoption of Choice based Credit system. 




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