Dual/Double/Multiple Degrees (Taught)


double (or multiple) degree is similar to a joint degree in that two or more awarding institutions jointly develop and deliver a programme. Double (multiple) degrees differ from joint degrees in that two (or more) degrees are awarded separately by the partner institutions for the same duration of study. All credit (delivered by all partners) within the programme is counted towards the degrees of each institution and the programme is completed within the normal duration applicable to the degree. The regulations for each award may vary and the students 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 to a double degree, essentially differing in how much of the credit delivered by partners is counted toward the requirements of each partner/award.  For example, there may be specific courses required by one partner that are not counted toward the degree from the other partner. Another example is where the duration or credit associated with the degree at one partner is 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.  Whilst minor differences in the regulations for each award might only have a minimal impact on students, significant differences must be well understood and their impact on students carefully thought through.  For example, will a project or dissertation 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? A difference that places unreasonable demand on students may lead to the model being unsuitable.

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

Requirments for Double/Dual/Multiple degrees are largely the same as those for joint degrees, although depending on the differences in requirements of the partners some aspects may require further consideration. An outline of the University of Glasgow’s key requirements is as follows:

  1. Each partner delivers a substantial proportion of the programme. The University of Glasgow must provide a minimum of 50% of the credit associated with its award where there are two awarding institutions (including the University). or an absolute minimum of 25% where there are three or more awarding institutions.
  2. The degree programme should be jointly designed by both partners, although it may incorporate existing courses. It should be a distinct offering.
  3. The award made by each institution may have a different title and each will reflect this on the parchment/certificate they produce for students. The University must reference the collaborative nature of the degree on its own degree parchment so that it is clear it is associated with the same programme of study as the other parchments/certificates provided by the partners.  
  4. A double/dual/multiple degree normally includes mobility between the two institutions, except where one institutions staff deliver on location with the partner. Examples of this include transnational education (TNE) provision.
  5. The programme teams need to establish whether a joint marking scheme will be used, or whether assessed work will be marked in accordance with each institution’s marking scheme, and then re-scaled to a single scheme for the purposes establishing GPAs and making the award. The latter is more usual.
  6. The two institutions will need to establish mechanisms for maintaining joint oversight of the programme, including any joint governance committees or boards. The University of Glasgow requires a Joint Board of Management to be established for all double/dual/multiple degree programmes and this has a pre-established remit and membership.
  7. The participating awarding bodies will need to determine which academic regulations will govern each award. A detailed comparison of requirements will need to be undertaken to assess the impact on students of meeting the requirements of each awarding body.
  8. External examining arrangements need to be agreed to satisfy UK requirements. 
  9. The partners determine jointly the mechanisms for annual monitoring and reporting. These should allow for the operation of Glasgow’s cycle of annual monitoring of the programme.
  10. Decisions will need to be made about which institutions issue parchments/certificates and transcripts and where students will graduate.
  11. parchments and transcripts should cross-refer to the award made by partner institutions. 
  12. Each partner is responsible for the assessment of the parts of the programme that it delivers. This normally means following local process too. 
  13. Mechanisms may be put in place for joint moderation of assessment across institutions.
  14. The programme is jointly managed on a day-to-day basis by all partners in accordance with the signed MoA.

Benefits and Risks

Potential benefits

  • The potential to offer a unique programme, pooling the experience and expertise of both institutions.
  • The ability to tap into markets that UoG would find difficult to exploit on its own.
  • Potential benefits resulting from partner brand recognition, or co-branding adding to prestige and attractiveness of the programme offering.
  • Double/Dual/Multiple degrees can further strengthen and contribute to an institution’s internationalisation strategies, in the case of international collaborations.
  • A degree more regulatory flexibility compared to Joint degrees.

Potential risks

  • Double/Dual/Multiple degrees can be resource-intensive to establish and manage.
  • Developing a detailed business case may take time.
  • Highly complex and requiring a great deal of negotiation and discussion on fine details.
  • Rely on long-term institution level commitment to the programme and relationship. Should not be based on a relationship between individuals only.  Wider buy-in is essential to avoid key-person dependency.
  • Complexity can lead to lack of clarity between institutions about the exact title and nature of the final award, or other important details.