Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education

Key facts

Starting: September 2019

Duration: 2-4 years part-time

Open evening: Thursday 5 December 2019, from 7.30 pm until 9.00 pm at Rewley House, Oxford

Applications for 2019 entry are now closed.

Applications for 2020 entry will open in early September 2019.

Course Director: Marianne Talbot

Application status

  • Application closed

Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education

A flexible route to an Undergraduate Certificate award from the University of Oxford.

The Certificate of Higher Education is a part-time course in which you study a main subject discipline, but also undertake study in other academic subjects. The course lasts between two and four years depending on how intensively you want to study. The credits you obtain from taking weekly classes, short online courses and attendance at the Oxford University Summer School for Adults all count towards your final award.

Open evening: Thursday 5 December 2019

We will hold an open evening on Thursday 5 December 2019 from 7.30 pm until 9.00 pm at Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JA. The Course Director and other staff will be on hand to discuss the course syllabus and structure and the application process, and to answer your questions. Register your interest in attending by emailing certhe@conted.ox.ac.uk

Who is this course for?

You don’t need any formal academic qualifications, but you must be able to demonstrate genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the subjects you propose to study. You will need to have the time and commitment needed to work for a university qualification.

Please note: it is possible to import credit up to a maximum of 30 points from OUDCE courses taken in the four years prior to registration.

How you will study

You can decide where and how you study. It is possible to study mainly online, depending on the availability of courses in your subject area, but you must take at least one course face-to-face in Oxford. The face-to-face element must amount to at least 10 Credit Accumulation Transfer Scheme (CATS) points, and it may consist of one or a combination of the following modules offered by the Department for Continuing Education:

  • successful completion of a week’s course at Oxford University Summer School for Adults (OUSSA)
  • successful completion of a weekly class in Oxford.

If you are based overseas, attending OUSSA is likely to be the most convenient way to undertake face-to-face study in Oxford. OUSSA gives you the chance to study in a small and informal group and have one-to-one tutorials with your tutor. As well as your classes, you can visit Oxford’s outstanding museums and art galleries, and enjoy concerts and theatre trips in the evenings.

The course in detail

Modules in your main subject area

Our students specialise in one of eight main subject areas. These are:

  • Archaeology
  • Art History
  • Architectural History
  • History
  • Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • Philosophy
  • Political Economy

To qualify for the award of the Certificate, you will need to obtain at least 60 CATS points (but no more than 80) in your chosen main subject area. 10 of these points will come from taking an introductory course in the main subject area (see below for details of the introductory courses). The remainder of your credits in your main subject area, up to a maximum of 50 points, will come from taking weekly classes, short online courses, linked day schools, or classes offered in Oxford University Summer School for Adults (OUSSA).

Modules outside your main subject area

Your remaining credits need to be obtained by completing courses outside your main subject area. The course is designed in this way to encourage breadth of study and to enable you to take advantage of the wide range of courses in different subject disciplines that the Department offers. Courses are available in Archaeology, Architectural History, Art History, Classics, Computing and Mathematics, Creative Writing, Economics, Environmental Conservation, Film Studies, History and Politics, Languages, Literature, Local and Social History, Music, Natural Sciences, Philosophy, Psychology and Counselling, Religious Studies and Theology.

Introductory course

During your first year of study you take an introductory course in your main subject area to gain a grounding in the concepts and methods relevant to the subject discipline. Some of the introductory courses are available online and others are offered face-to-face. The introductory classes are listed below; please follow the link to obtain more information about the individual courses:

Study Skills module

You will also take a Study Skills module during your first term of study, the cost of which is covered by the programme fee. CATS points obtained from Study Skills courses are included in the 120 CATS points for the Certificate. You will be enrolled automatically on our online Study Skills course.


You will be assessed through coursework you complete for the individual modules that you take, and through additional assignments designed to develop a broader knowledge and understanding of your main subject area.

There are three additional written assignments, two of which are of 2,500 words in length, and one of which is 3,500 words. You also complete a two-part reflective learning journal totalling 2,000 words. There is no written examination at the end of the course.

IT requirements

This course uses the Department’s online assignment submission system. In order to prepare and submit your course assignments you will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification. Students of this course may use the student computing facilities provided in Departmental buildings.

Certification and credit transfer

Students who successfully complete the course will be awarded Oxford University’s Certificate of Higher Education. Outstanding performance will qualify you for a Distinction. You will be invited to receive your Certificate at the annual Awards Ceremony of the Department for Continuing Education, held at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford.

The Certificate carries 120 Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points at first year undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 4). It is therefore equivalent to the first year of full-time study. Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education does not offer undergraduate degrees, but students who obtain the Certificate may, if they wish, apply to transfer the credit from the Certificate to another academic institution, such as the Open University, which does offer degrees. The transfer-in of credit is always at the receiving institution's discretion.

Alternatively, students who complete the Certificate successfully and who wish to continue study in their main subject area may be interested in applying for other award-bearing courses within the Department for Continuing Education. The Department offers a number of Certificates and Diplomas at undergraduate level. For more information about these, please go to the Oxford Qualifications page of the website.

Teaching staff and learning support

The Course Director is Marianne Talbot.

The Course Director is on hand to give you academic advice and guidance. She will help you review your progress, plan your academic pathway to completion of the award, and plan your progression to higher levels of study.

If you are studying mainly online, your advice and guidance sessions can be conducted by telephone or email, although every student will be expected to meet the Course Director in person at least once during the period of their registration. In addition, advice and guidance on assignments will be provided by the course tutors and the assessors for additional coursework. There will also be guidance on credit transfer, special circumstances and financial assistance. For further details please email: certhe@conted.ox.ac.uk

There will be an induction day for all new Certificate students at the start of the academic year. This will include an introduction to the Department for Continuing Education and its facilities, to the Departmental Library at Rewley House, and to the other libraries and resources within the University that you will be entitled to use. All Certificate students will receive a University card.

Contact information

If you have questions you may contact us by email: certhe@conted.ox.ac.uk or by telephone: +44 (0)1865 270312.

All the Department's online short courses are developed by our Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning (TALL) unit. To learn more, please see the TALL website.

Student Advice +44 (0)1865 280355

For general guidance and advice, credit transfer, special needs provision, residential category and sources of funding: student.support@conted.ox.ac.uk

Study Skills +44 (0)1865 280892

For information about Study Skills courses: studyskills@conted.ox.ac.uk

How to apply

Please use the 'Apply' button on this page to obtain the application form, which includes a reference form. You should complete the reference form and send it to your referee, asking him/her to provide a reference by direct email to us. Please note that the reference is compulsory and we cannot consider your application without it.

If possible, your referee should be a person who can comment on your academic ability and background, but where this is not possible, you should name a referee who can vouch for your motivation, commitment and potential. A reference from a family member is not acceptable.

Please complete the rest of the application form and email it to certhe@conted.ox.ac.uk putting your name and the course title in the subject field. Together with your completed application form you should also email the following.

  • Information on preferred subject areas and mode of study – Appendix C of the application form.
  • A written statement of 400 words stating why you wish to study your chosen main subject.
  • As part of your application you are required to submit a short piece of written work relevant to the main subject that you are choosing for the programme. Please see here for guidancePDF document

  • Proof of your English language ability if you are a non-native English-speaking applicant (see below for further information).

We will acknowledge receipt of your application via email. All applicants will be given a telephone or Skype interview. The interviewer will be looking for evidence of genuine interest in the subjects selected as the main and secondary subject areas, understanding of the time commitment involved, and whether you have sufficient time to devote to the course.

This a popular course so we recommend you apply by the earliest deadline. Late applications will be considered if there are still places on the course. Please contact the Programme Administrator at certhe@conted.ox.ac.uk to check availability. The final decision on admission rests with OUDCE.

Fees and funding

There is a basic course fee for each year in which you are registered for the Certificate, up to a maximum of four years. For students starting in 2019–20 the annual programme tuition fee will be £1,200 for Home / EU students and £1,835 for non-EU students. An option to pay the fee in instalments is available.

In addition, you pay the normal fees for each of the courses you attend.

Programme fees are likely to increase slightly each year.

The UK government has confirmed that non-UK EU students commencing their studies in 2019-20 will continue to have ‘Home’ fee status and pay fees at the home rate for the duration of their course.

Funding and financial assistance

Since 2012 students who do not already have a BA degree may apply for a Student Loan, regardless of their income. You can find details of loans for part-time students on the following website: https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-student-finance

For information on other sources of funding for UK/EU and International students, please visit our funding pages for further details.

English language requirements

Check information on the specific English language requirements for this course.

Applicants are required to have the Higher level scores.


Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course

Sources of funding

Information on financial support