Policy and guidance on concurrent registration

This page provides guidance for students and staff, based on the University’s policy on concurrent registration, relating to applications to study on OUDCE’s part-time award-bearing courses and/or non-award-bearing accredited short courses[1] while being registered on another award-bearing course (whether at Oxford or elsewhere, and whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level), or if considering to apply for two part-time award-bearing courses simultaneously.

The University’s policy[2] does not permit full-time students to be concurrently enrolled on another award-bearing programme at this or another university. The purpose of the policy is to enhance student welfare and to assist every student to achieve their best results. The only exception to the policy is where there may be a short overlap between the formal end of one programme and the start of another.

The University policy does not refer to cases which may sometimes arise with OUDCE students. Potential scenarios include a student already registered on a part-time course seeking to enrol concurrently on:

(i) an additional part-time award-bearing course, or
(ii) one or more non-award bearing accredited courses,

or where a student not yet registered with the Department applies for two part-time courses simultaneously.

This guidance explains how such requests will be managed.

1. Permitted concurrent registration

(a) Subject to permission being granted under d) below, students may normally be permitted to be concurrently registered on:

(i) up to two part-time award-bearing courses; or
(ii) up to two part-time award-bearing courses plus additional accredited short course(s); or
(iii) a full-time course plus additional accredited short course(s).

(b) Before applying for:

(i) two part-time award-bearing courses simultaneously; or
ii) a second part-time award-bearing course; or
(iii) an additional accredited course(s) while on a part-time or full-time course,

applicants or students must seek permission from the appropriate OUDCE Course or Programme Director, explaining how they expect to be able to meet the course requirements. (The Department will ensure that course publicity and materials provide a realistic guide to the study commitment required, and will encourage students to consider other demands on their time, such as work or family commitments.)

(c) The Course or Programme Director will consider the request in the light of:

(i) the full-time equivalence of the total study hours;[3]
(ii) the student’s individual circumstances;
(iii) whether or not the student wishes to take the accredited short courses for credit (if there is an option); and
(iv) the contribution that the additional course(s) may make to the student’s experience and academic progress on the concurrent award-bearing programme.

(d) The Course or Programme Director will make a recommendation to the OUDCE Assistant Director (Award-Bearing Programme and Accredited Short Courses). The Assistant Director’s agreement, or that of their nominee,[4] is required before an application can be considered.

(e) Respective assessment deadlines of concurrent courses may coincide, and applicants should be aware that concurrent study will not be deemed to be an acceptable reason to submit late.

(f) Where a student is registered for two part-time courses concurrently, and finds that they cannot manage the workload, they may be permitted to suspend status from one course, in line with the University’s policy on suspension.

(g) Where a student is registered on a part- or full-time course and accredited short courses and cannot manage the workload, they will normally be advised to withdraw from the accredited short course(s).[5]

The requirements of the award-bearing course will take priority; e.g., completion of an accredited short course would not normally be considered as grounds for suspension from an award-bearing course.

For illustrative purposes, some examples are provided below.

2. Courses taken at another Higher Education Institute (HEI)

(a) If a student who is already taking a full- or part-time course at another HEI applies for an award-bearing course at Oxford, they are required to state this on the application form. If they are already on a full-time course they will not be accepted, as this would be in breach of University policy. If they are on a part-time course, steps 1b) to d) (above) should be followed.

(b) If a student who is already registered on a part-time award-bearing course at Oxford wishes to apply for a concurrent course at another HEI, they should seek permission from the Course or Programme Director (as above). The request will be considered in the light of the guidance above. If the Department advises against concurrent study, but the student proceeds regardless to register for the full-time course, they will be in breach of the policy. Cases will be considered on their individual merits.  Students may ultimately be subject to disciplinary action as described under 3 below.

(c) OUDCE places no restrictions on a student from another HEI applying for OUDCE’s accredited short courses. In these cases, should the course team be aware of the other programme, they should advise the student that concurrent registration is not an acceptable reason for late submission.

3. Breaches of policy

A breach of University policy can lead to disciplinary action. This may ultimately lead to suspension or expulsion under the Terms and Conditions of the student’s contract with the University.

4. Examples

NB cases will be considered on their individual merits.

Ex. 1: A student on a part-time undergraduate-level course requests enrolment on an additional 20-week course from the weekly classes programme (20 CATS points), an online course (10 CATS points), and a one-week course from the Oxford University Summer School for Adults (10 CATS points).

  • Outcome: The Course Director recommends approval, noting that the total study hours equate to 100 UG CATS points, which is less than the full-time equivalent for an undergraduate degree.

Ex. 2: A student on the full-time DPhil in Evidence-Based Health Care requests enrolment on two stand-alone courses in research techniques, one from the MSc in EBHC programme and one from the MSt in Practical Ethics, each accredited at 20 CATS points (PG).

  • Outcome: The Programme Director recommends approval, noting that the total study hours equate to 180 CATS points, which exceeds the study time of a full-time course, but the stand-alone courses will directly benefit the student’s research, and the student has demonstrated that they will have the time to make this commitment.

Ex. 3 A student on the part-time MSc in Surgical Science and Practice (which comes under the Variable Intensity Policy) plans to complete four modules in one year, and requests to enrol on three additional stand-alone accredited courses from another postgraduate programme in the same year. The student is in full-time employment.

  • Outcome: Although theoretically possible and not a breach of University policy, the Programme Director does not support the request, on the grounds that the intensity, combined with the student’s full-time employment, would be overly demanding.


[1] Including weekly classes, short online courses, courses from the Weekly Oxford Worldwide (WOW) or the Oxford University Summer School for Adults (OUSSA) programmes, or modules from PGT courses available as stand-alone course or other accredited short courses at postgraduate level. The guidance applies whether the student wishes to take the short course for credit or not for credit.

[2]  https://academic.admin.ox.ac.uk/policies/pgt under Admissions/Making an application

[3] Full-time study equates to approximately 120 CATS points per academic year, part-time study to approximately 60 CATS per academic year. Short courses are generally accredited at 10 or 20 CATS points.

[4] For short courses accredited at FHEQ Level 4.

[5] In these cases, the relevant course Terms and Conditions will normally be applied.


Approved for 2023/24

Updated 28 September 2023