Joint Degrees (Taught)


The main distinguishing feature of a Joint Degree 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 an entirely integrated taught programme leading to a single award from all participating institutions (joint award). This single certificate/document attests successful completion of the joint programme, replacing the separate institutional qualifications.

One institution is identified as the ‘lead’ or ‘administering’ institution. This institution is responsible for the administration of the programme including oversight of admissions, registration and other student related processes such as the production of the degree parchment and transcript. Students will attend a 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, and will be subject to rules about conduct, complaints and appeals at both institutions depending on the terms and specific circumstances of the collaboration.  It is necessary to agree a single set of degree regulations and this is most commonly the regulations of the administering institution.  Where the partner agrees to follow the University of Glasgow’s degree 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 the institutional expectations and those set down in any national regulations or standards to which we are subject.  There are a number of key areas where the University is not able to compromise, and other areas where flexibility is possible.

All joint degree programmes will be subject to a legally binding agreement between the partners.  This will set out the obligations of each party in detail and allow compliance with the relevant regulatory and legislative requirements. 

Key Requirements

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. A joint degree programme should be jointly designed by both partners, although it may incorporate existing courses. It should be a distinct offering.
  3. There should be a single award title agreed by all awarding institutions and this should be incorporated into the regulations of the institutions as required. The award title will be used on the degree parchment/certificate. 
  4. Joint degrees normally include 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 of 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 joint 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 the joint degree award. Bespoke regulations may be designed and approved, but it is often simpler to agree to the regulations of the lead institution, provided they meet the expectations of both parties.
  8. External examining arrangements need to be agreed to satisfy UK requirements. It may be feasible for joint selection or appointment of external examiners to be made. Joint selection is often easier to implement, with the lead being responsible for appointment.
  9. The partners determine jointly the mechanisms for annual monitoring and reporting of the course. 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 institution issues the certificate and transcript. This is normally the lead institution.
  11. Each partner is responsible for the assessment of the parts of the course that it delivers. This normally means following local process too. 
  12. Mechanisms may be put in place for joint moderation of assessment across institutions.
  13. The course is jointly managed on a day-to-day basis by all partners in accordance with the signed MoA.
  14. A joint Board of Examiners is held to determine progression and achievement of the students.

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.
  • Joint Degree programmes can further strengthen and contribute to an institution’s internationalisation strategies, in the case of international collaborations.
  • Greater transparency compared to Double/Dual Degrees.
  • Joint programmes are completed in the same time period as normal degree programmes.
  • Potentially a closer relationship and exchange of research and resources compared to other types of collaboration.

Potential risks

  • Joint programmes 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.