Choice Based Credit System(CBCS)

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Choice Based Credit System(CBCS)

According to National Knowledge Commission (NKC), the Present System

  • Teacher centric approach
  • Teacher never asks, “why am I teaching this, what will students do after this exposure?”
  • What are the kinds of activities student should be engaged to have “learning opportunities”?
  • There are no opportunities for – Group work – Individual work – Data collection – Field work – Quizzes – Class tests – Community involvement
  • No inter-disciplinary mobility possible
  • Lack of multi-disciplinary, closed isolated environment
  • Lack of choices for the student
  • No opportunity to the learner to walk out and walk in to earn a certification
  • No scope to introduce latest knowledge in the curriculum, and
  • Learning goals of the course and learning objectives of the units/submits never enunciated.

19th Century’s Mindset, 20th Century’s Process and 21st Century’s Needs (Dr. Sam Pitroda)


What is a credit system?

  • A credit system is a systematic way of describing an educational programme by attaching credits to its components.
  • The definition of credits in higher education systems may be based on different parameters, such as student workload, learning outcomes, entrepreneurship skills, contact hours, innovation and Creativity talents, etc.

What is Choice Based Credit System (CBCS)?

  • A “cafeteria” type approach in which the students can

–take courses of their choice,

–learn at their own pace,

–undergo additional courses,

–acquire more than the required credits, and

–adopt an interdisciplinary approach to learning.

  • Transformation from the traditional teacher-centered education to a student-centered education.
  • CBCS provides greater flexibility with multiple exits, multiple pathways, vertical mobility.


  • The main objectives of CBCS are:

–To provide broad based education;

–To provide students with greater flexibility in choice of courses;

–To provide students multi-disciplinary curriculum;

–To enable students to choose courses at basic/advanced level/inter-disciplinary;

–To enable students to acquire job oriented skills;

–To enable students to progress at their own pace;

–To enable highly motivated students gain extra credits; and

–To Bridge the gap between professional and social exposure to provide a holistic education.

Importance of CBCS in the Process of Learning

  • Choice enables a learner to pursue any area of knowledge domain depending upon his / her interest.
  • Choice also widens the horizon of learner’s intellectual insight.
  • Rigidity of present system does not allow pursuit of areas of interest as well as widening the educational horizon of the learner, and
  • Provision of choice is an essential condition for broad-based learner’s profile across areas of knowledge.

Learning by Earning Credits

  • Credits offer flexibility of learning at one’s own pace.
  • Credits can be earned in a shorter or expanded period depending upon the capacity of the learner.
  • Provision of transfer of credit is a facility for students to move from one branch to another.
  • Possibility of doing majors in more than one subject if provision of earning credit is available in the coursework, and
  • In interdisciplinary courses, credits can be earned by taking courses across departments and institutions.

Advantages of CBCS


  • Represents a much-required shift in focus from teacher-centric to learner-centric education since the workload estimated is based on the investment of time in learning, not in teaching.
  • Helps to record course work and to document learner workload realistically since all activities are taken into account -not only the time learners spend in lectures or seminars but also the time they need for individual learning and the preparation of examinations etc.
  • Segments learning experience into calibrated units, which can be accumulated in order to gain an academic award.
  • Affords more flexibility to the learners allowing them to choose inter-disciplinary courses, change majors, programmes, etc.
  • Respects ‘Learner Autonomy’. Allows learners to choose according to their own learning needs, interests and aptitudes.
  • Helps self-paced learning. Learners may undertake as many credits as they can cope with without having to repeat all the courses in a given semester if they fail in one or more courses. Alternatively, they can choose other courses and continue their studies.
  • Makes education more broad-based. One can take credits by combining unique combinations. For example, if a learner is studying Computer Science, he/she can also simultaneously take a course in Business Management.
  • Facilitates Learner Mobility. Offers the opportunity to study at different times and in different places. Credits earned at one institution can be transferred to another.
  • Helps in working out twinning programmes.
  • Is beneficial for achieving more transparency and compatibility between different educational structures, and
  • Helps to round off valuation errors.

Significance of Grading in CBCS

  • Advantages of moving away from numerical marking to grading.
  • Grading provides a more realistic assessment of the learner.
  • Stigma of “fail” is minimized in grading.
  • Grading enables the use of both “absolute” andrelative” grading depending upon the context.
  • Relative grading provides possibilities of placing students in comparable categories regardless of their relative achievements in different subjects, and
  • The grading system is considered “better” and “desirable” because this will facilitate student mobility across institutions within the country and across other countries, and also enable potential employers to assess the performance of students.

Definitions of Key Words

1.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).

2.Course: 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/ field work/ outreach activities/ project work/ vocational training/viva/ seminars/term papers/assignments/ presentations/ self-study etc. or a combination of some of these.

  1. Credit Point: It is the product of grade point and number of credits for a course.
  2. Grade Point: It is a numerical weight allotted to each letter grade on a 10-point
  3. 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.
  4.  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.
    1. Semester: 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.

    8.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.

Types of Courses: Courses in a programme may be of three kinds: Core, Elective and Foundation

1.Core Course: There may be a Core Course in every semester. This is the course which is to be compulsorily studied by a student as a core requirement to complete the requirement of a programme in a said discipline of study.

2.Elective Course:-

Elective course is a course which can be chosen from a pool of papers. It may be:

  • Supportive to the discipline of study
  • Providing an expanded scope
  • Enabling an exposure to some other discipline/domain
  • Nurturing student’s proficiency/skill.

An elective may be “Generic Elective” focusing on those courses which add generic proficiency to the students. An elective may be “Discipline centric”or may be chosen from an unrelated discipline. It may be called an “Open Elective.”

3. Foundation Course: The Foundation Courses may be of two kinds: Compulsory Foundation and Elective foundation.

“Compulsory Foundation” courses are the courses based upon the content that leads to Knowledge enhancement. They are mandatory for all disciplines.

“Elective Foundation” courses are value-based and are aimed at man-making education.

Examination and Assessment

  • The UGC recommends the following system to be implemented in awarding the grades and CGPA under the credit based semester system.
  • Two methods -relative grading or absolute grading– have been in vogue for awarding grades in a course, and
  • The UGC recommends a 10-point grading system with the following letter grades as given below:

Letter Grades and Grade Points

Letter Grade Grade Point
O (Outstanding) 10
A+(Excellent)  9
A(Very Good)  8
B+(Good)  7
B(Above Average)  6
C(Average)  5
P (Pass)  4
F(Fail)  0
A (Absent)  0

Computation of SGPA and CGPA

  • The UGC recommends the following procedure to compute the Semester Grade Point Average (SGPA) and Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA):

The SGPA is the ratio of sum of the product of the number of credits with the grade points scored by a student in all the courses taken by a student and the sum of the number of credits of all the courses undergone by a student, i.e

  SGPA (Si) = Σ(Ci x Gi) / ΣCi

where Ci is the number of credits of the ith course and Gi is the grade point scored by the student in the ith course.


  • Conversion formula for the conversion of GPA into Percentage is

[CGPA Earned – 0.75] x 10= Percentage of marks scored.

  • Illustration:

[CGPA Earned: 8.18 – 0.75]x 10 = 74.3%

Transcript (Format):

  • Transcript (Format): Based on the above recommendations on Letter grades, grade points and SGPA and CCPA, the HEIs may issue the transcript for each semester and a consolidated transcript indicating the performance in all semesters.

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