Dual/Double/Multiple Degrees (Research)


double (or multiple) degree is similar to a joint degree in that the University and the partner institution(s) jointly develop and deliver a research programme leading to an academic award (degree).  Double (multiple) degrees differ from joint degrees in that two (or more) degrees are awarded separately by the partner institution(s) for the same duration of study. The regulations for each award may vary and each student will be required to meet the requirements of all institutions and applicable degree regulations.  Often the partners will seek to agree a single set of requirements which would in turn satisfy the regulations for each award. 

Dual degrees are very similar, but there is not a complete overlap in the degree durations.  For example, the duration of the degree at one partner may be different from the other - this might lead to a scenario where the the student fulfills the degree requirements at one institution but still has to complete further study to fulfill the requirements at the other. 

For all types of collaboration using these models it is important that the demands placed on students are carefully considered.  Only minor differences in the regulations for each award will have a minimal impact on students, however significant differences must be well understood and their impact on students carefully thought through.  For example, will both partners accept the same progress requirements and process, will a thesis be able to satisfy the expectations of both sets of regulations, or will the student be expected to submit a substantially different piece of work to each partner? 

Though a single set of degree regulations isn't required for a double (multiple) or dual degree, and therefore they can seem like a simpler option than a joint degree, the reality is that this shifts the complexity from the regulations to the operation of the programme.  The demands on students and how the requirements of each awarding institution can be taken account of within the programme still need to be considered and dealt with even if not set down in a set of academic regulations. Double (multiple) degrees and dual degrees tend to be developed in situations where the partner(s) are not able to engage in a joint award, because of regulations at either institutional or national level.


Key Requirements

The requirements are largely the same as they are for a Joint Degree.  However, as their may be different requirements from the partner, it is important to carefully consider how the different demands will impact on students.  There are a number of key areas where the University is not able to compromise, and other areas where flexibility is possible in order to incorporate the requirements of the partner: 

  1. Students must meet any requirements for admission to a PhD at Glasgow.
  2. The length of the degree is normally a minimum of 36 months (max 48 months) for full-time study and 60 months (maximum 96 months) for part-time study. Registration at Glasgow must be completed each year subject to satisfactory progress.
  3. Students are required to be supported by a supervisory team – this should be at least one appropriately qualified supervisor at each institution who shall be recognised by each institution. The student should be clear who the Primary Supervisor is.
  4. An oral defence is required of a thesis. The length of the thesis is defined in the University Regulations, with additional information provided in the PGR Code of Practice and the PGR Handbook issued by the relevant Graduate School.
  5. An oral defence is the primary means of assessment of the thesis and for the award.
  6. The assessment panel (for the oral defence/viva) will normally comprise an independent Chair, internal members and at least one external panel member. The external panel member may be appointed by UoG or the partner institution.   Where the partner is responsible for the appointment, UoG must be involved in the selection process.  Any variation to this must be explicitly agreed by UoG on a case by case basis.
  7. The Supervisor(s) of the student/thesis will be excluded from the formal assessment process. The Supervisor will normally also be excluded from attending but subject to the agreement of the student, may be present.
  8. The language of submission and assessment is normally English.
  9. Satisfactory progress monitoring requirements and procedures must be in place. Progress meeting frequency should comply with the expectations of UoG’s PGR Code of Practice.
  10. The student should have sufficient training in line with the requirements of the relevant Graduate School and the general expectations of the PGR Code of Practice, for example, research training or personal and professional development.
  11. Any Intellectual Property created is the property of the student unless the terms of their funding specify otherwise. However, this may be subject to review on a case by case basis.
  12. Suspensions or extensions should be fully documented and agreed by both partners on a case by case basis.
  13. Students are expected to comply with University policies with regard to good research practice, in particular with regard to research integrity and research data management.

Benefits and Risks

Potential benefits

  • Providing a unique research experience or project together with another institution that may not be possible to provide independently of one another.
  • Increases access to new research environments and equipment.
  • Potential access to research funds and attracting otherwise funded students.
  • Raising UoG’s international profile and reputation.
  • Strengthening and furthering existing relationships with partner institutions.
  • Exchange of academics and researchers/increased networking.

Potential risks

  • Can be resource intensive (developing & managing the collaboration).
  • Sometimes difficult to determine how much the benefits outweigh the costs.
  • Lack of clarity between the partners about the nature of the awards, who the lead institution is and the nature of that role. Particularly difficult across international boundaries and given different cultures within higher education systems.
  • Potential confusion about supervisor arrangements and contributions.
  • The potential that supervision, progression monitoring and the totality of the research students’ experience is not as coherent as it might be.
  • The added demands potentially placed on students due to the nature of a double/dual degree when compared to a joint degree.