Joint Degrees (Research)


The main distinguishing feature of a Joint Degree (Research) collaboration is that a single qualification is awarded jointly by the University of Glasgow and its chosen partner institution(s).  The University and the partner institution(s) jointly develop and deliver a research programme leading to a single award from all participating institutions.  This means the student will receive one parchment/certificate and therefore there will be a single award title agreed between all partner institutions. A Joint Degree (Research) collaboration should not be confused with a Dual or Double Degree, where more than one award is made.

One institution is normally identified as the ‘lead’ or ‘administering’ institution. This institution is responsible for the main points of administration of the programme,  admissions, registration and other student related processes including the production of the degree parchment and transcript. Students will normally attend the appropriate graduation ceremony at the lead institution. The role of the lead institution is normally consistent throughout the duration of the arrangement.

Students will be registered at each institution.  However, it is necessary in the case of a joint degree to agree a single set of degree regulations and this is most commonly the regulations of the lead or administering institution.  However, in the case of research degrees (especially where the partner is a UK institution) and where there are a number of students, the degree regulations may be those of the institution providing primary supervision of a given student.  Where the partner agrees to follow the University of Glasgow’s regulations, the partner will have to satisfy themselves that these are sufficient for the purposes of an award being made in their name.  Accordingly, where the University of Glasgow agrees to follow the regulations of a partner, it will need to satisfy itself that these meet our institutional expectations and those set down in any national regulations or standards to which we are subject.

Key Requirements

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.

Awarding a joint degree may be subject to national regulations in the country where the partner is based. Some institutions cannot confer a joint award due to national restrictions.


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.
  • Greater transparency of a joint programme when compared to a double/dual programme due to the single set of regulations that govern the degree.

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 award, 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.