Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education

Key facts

Deadlines for applications are 18 January 2018, 8 March 2018, and 10 May 2018. Completed applications will be considered after the deadline by which they are received.

The programme will start on Tuesday 2 October 2018.

Part-time multidisciplinary programme

2-4 years

Fees 2018-19

Home/EU £1,155 per year  + module fees

Overseas £1,765  per year + module fees

Students will pay the normal fee for each of the subject modules that they take.

Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education

The Department for Continuing Education is delighted to offer the Certificate of Higher Education. This is a part-time course, lasting between two and four years depending on how intensively you wish to study. Students choose a main subject discipline in which they do most of their classes, but they combine this with study in other academic subjects. The course enables students to use the credit that they obtain from taking weekly classes, short online courses, linked day schools, practical weekends and attendance at the Oxford University Summer School for Adults to count towards gaining an award from the University of Oxford.

Students can decide where and how they study. It is possible to study mainly online for the award, depending on the availability of courses in your subject area, and so long as you 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. There is flexibility in the time frame: some students will wish to complete the award within two years of registration, while others may take up to four years to complete. It will also be possible to import credit, up to a maximum of 30 points, from OUDCE courses taken in the four years prior to registration. The Certificate carries 120 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 (equivalent to one year of full time study at first year undergraduate level).

Open Evening

An open evening will take place on Wednesday 6 December 2017 at 6pm 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, the application process, and to answer questions. Register your interest in attending by emailing certhe@conted.ox.ac.uk.

Virtual Open Day

If you are thinking of applying and would like to learn more, you can also visit our online Open Day in which Course Director Dr Elizabeth Gemmill talks about the structure of the course and answers frequently asked questions.


Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education Oxford University

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' section of the website: click here.

Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education Oxford University

Modules in your main subject area

Students who register for the award will specialise in one of eight main subject areas. These are Archaeology, Art History, Architectural History, History, Literature, Creative Writing, Philosophy or Political Economy. To qualify for the award of the Certificate, you will need to obtain at least 30 CATS points (but no more than 70 CATS points) in your chosen main subject area. Ten of these points will come from taking an introductory course in that 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 70 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

Students will, during their first year of study, take an introductory course in their main subject area to give them 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:

Archaeology: Archaeology in Practice (online)
Architectural History: Learning to Look at Western Architecture (online)
Art History: Learning to Look at the Visual Arts (online)
Creative Writing: Getting Started in Creative Writing (online)
History: The Making of Modern Britain (online)
Literature: Critical Reading (face to face or online course)
Philosophy: Introduction to Philosophy (online)
Political Economy: Public Policy Economics (online)

Study Skills

Students will, in addition, undertake a Study Skills module during their first term of study, and the cost of this is covered by the Certificate's 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.

Students who are registered for the Certificate of Higher Education are normally required to attend at least 70% of sessions for each module, or, in the case of online modules, actively to participate in online discussions on a regular basis.

Course aims

Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education Oxford University

Since this is a multi-disciplinary programme, with modules offered across the humanities, sciences and social sciences, the learning outcomes are expressed in general terms only.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of the programme students will be expected to:

  • Demonstrate a broad knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, concepts and methods relating to the main subject area in which they have specialised during the Certificate.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of how concepts and methods in that subject area are open to change and debate.
  • Demonstrate some awareness of the subject matter, concepts and methods relating to other subject areas that they have studied during the Certificate.

Cognitive/ intellectual skills

By the end of the programme students will be expected to:

  • Think critically about the methods and concepts relating to the main subject area in which they have specialised during the Certificate.
  • Compare the methods and concepts of the different subject disciplines which they have studied during the Certificate
  • To plan, research and complete coursework assignments using subject matter, concepts and methods appropriate to the relevant subject discipline
  • To communicate the results of their work effectively and to follow the scholarly presentational conventions of the relevant subject discipline.

Transferable skills

By the end of the programme students will be expected to:

  • Be able to study independently and effectively and to reflect on the study process.
  • Analyse and solve problems.
  • Interact effectively within a learning group.
  • Present a point of view and communicate clearly in writing and orally.
  • Have an understanding of correct referencing and how to avoid plagiarism.

Assessment methods

Assessment is through the coursework which students complete for the individual modules that they take, and through additional assignments designed to develop a broader knowledge and understanding of their main subject area.

There are three additional written assignments, two of which are of 2,500 words in length, and one of which is of 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.

Teaching methods

Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education Oxford UniversityInduction Day, Libraries, and Support for Learning

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 Certificate students are entitled to use. All Certificate students will receive a University card.

When you register for the Certificate of Higher Education you will be eligible for academic advice and guidance from the Course Director, to help you review your progress, plan your academic pathway to completion of the award of the Certificate, and plan your progression to higher levels of study. Students studying mainly online will be given the opportunity for advice and guidance sessions to be conducted by telephone or e-mail exchange, 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 from our Registry. For further details please email: registry@conted.ox.ac.uk

Studying in Oxford

Students registering for the Certificate will wish to study mainly online, and the Certificate has been designed to make this possible, so long as there are enough online courses available for you to fulfil the requirements of your chosen pathway through the Certificate. However, all students must undertake some face-to-face study in Oxford, amounting to at least 10 CATS points of study. Your face-to-face study may consist of one or a combination of the following modules offered by the Department for Continuing Education:

We anticipate that students based overseas may find that attending Oxford University Summer School for Adults is the most convenient way for them to fulfil the requirement to undertake face-to-face study in Oxford. OUSSA gives you the opportunity to study in the context of a small and informal group, and there are, in addition, one-to-one tutorials with your tutor. As well as your classes, you will be encouraged to take advantage of being in Oxford to visit its outstanding museums and art galleries, and to go to concerts and theatre trips in the evenings.

Non-EU students

For information on visas, refer to www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration.

Who may apply?

This course requires no formal academic qualifications. Successful applicants will be those able to demonstrate genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the subjects that they propose to study. They will need to have the time and commitment needed to work for a University qualification. 

At registration, a student may transfer in no more than 30 CATS points at Level 4 from the Department’s weekly class or online course programme, so long as these shall have been gained within four years prior to registration for the Certificate.

All students applying for registration will be given an interview, via Skype. The interviewer will be looking for evidence of genuine interest in the subjects selected as the main and the secondary subject areas; understanding of the commitment that will be needed to pursue study on a part-time basis; and the availability of sufficient time to devote to the course.

English Language Requirements

English is the language of instruction for all courses offered at Oxford. You must submit evidence that you meet the University’s English language requirements for your course if your first language is not English, or if your first language is English but you are not a national of a majority English-speaking country recognised by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) - Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America.

You do not need to submit test results, or request a waiver, if your first language is English and you have always been a resident and citizen of the UK, Ireland or any other majority English-speaking country (see list above).

Score Requirements (Standard Level)

The University only accepts certain standardised tests with results at or above the following scores. Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. The score requirements in each test are as follows:

  • IELTS Academic (Institution Code: 0713): overall score of 7.0 (with at least 6.5 in each of the four components).

  • TOEFL iBT (Institution code: 0490): overall score of 110 with component scores of at least: Listening 22, Reading 24, Speaking 25, and Writing 24.

  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Overall score of at least 185, with a minimum of 176 per component.

  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Overall score of at least 185 with a minimum of 176 per component.

Asking for a waiver of the requirement

Exemptions from this requirement may be waived if you have completed, or are currently completing, a degree-level course that is full-time, at least 9 months and undertaken at a recognised institution where teaching and assessment throughout the course is entirely in English.

Please click here for further information.

How do I apply?

Please use the 'Apply' button on this page to obtain the application form which includes a reference form (Appendix A). 

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 applicaiton 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.

  1. A written statement of 400 words stating why you wish to study your chosen main subject. For example, applicants in archaeology might write about visits they have made to sites of archaeological interests or to museums, explaining what they saw and why it was of interest. Applicants in art history or architectural history might write about a favourite painting or building or other form of visual culture, explaining how they thought that the effects had been achieved and the context of the work, or about a visit to a particular art gallery. Applicants in literature, history or philosophy might write about a book or article which they had found especially enlightening, and explaining why. Applicants in creative writing might explain their current preferred genre and why they found it suited their purpose.

  2. Proof of your English Language Ability if you are a non-native English-speaking applicant.

Application deadlines

Thursday 18 January 2018, Thursday 8 March 2018, and Thursday 10 May 2018. 

Completed applications will be considered after the deadline by which they are received. The programme will start on Tuesday 2 October 2018.

The receipt of your application will be acknowledged via email. All applicants will be given a telephone 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 commitment that will be needed to pursue study on a part-time basis; and the availability of sufficient time to devote to the course.

This a popular course so we recommend you apply by the earlier deadline. Late applications will be considered if there are still places on the course, but applications cannot be considered after the course has begun. Please contact the Programme Administrator at certhe@conted.ox.ac.uk to check availability. The final decision on admission to the course rests with OUDCE.

Use the apply button on this page to download the application form.


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 2018-19 the annual programme tuition fee will be £1,155 for Home/EU students and £1,765 for overseas students. In addition, students pay the normal fees for each of the courses that they attend.

A non-refundable deposit of £200 must be paid on acceptance of a place. The remainder of the fee can be paid in one instalment, due 1 October 2018, or in 5 equal instalments from 1 October 2018 to 1 February 2019 inclusive.

Programme fees are likely to increase slightly each year. In addition, students will pay the normal fee for each of the subject modules that they take.

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.

Any questions?

If you have questions you may contact us by e-mail: certhe@conted.ox.ac.uk or by telephone +44 (0)1865 280973.

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.

Terms and conditions

Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course

Sources of funding

Information on financial support