Authority to Award Degrees

University foundation and constitution

The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451 by Pope Nicholas V. The University is autonomous and self-governing. Its power to confer its academic awards dates from the Papal Bull of 1451. Its modern constitutional framework derives from the Universities (Scotland) Acts 1858 – 1966 and Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Act 2016. These Acts make provision for the main statutory bodies, including the Senate, which is the supreme academic body of the University, with responsibility for academic standards. It is the Senate which confers the University’s academic awards.

UK Government Recognised Body status

Under the Education Reform Act 1988, an institution which provides degree programmes must be recognised as such and appear as a ‘Listed Body’ in the Listed Bodies Order maintained for this purpose by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. The Listed Bodies Order may be found on the United Kingdom Government website GOV.UK at:

Assurance of standards and quality

The University must also provide public assurance that the quality of its degree programmes is satisfactory and that it is maintaining its academic standards. This is assessed, under the terms of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005, by the Scottish Funding Council for Further and Higher Education (SFC), a Non-departmental Public Body of the Scottish Government. To carry out the assessment, the SFC in turn engages as its agent the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) (Scotland). The main method employed by QAA (Scotland) to assess whether universities are maintaining and also enhancing the quality of their educational provision is the Enhancement-led Institutional Review. These reviews are carried out every five years. The University of Glasgow’s most recent Enhancement-led Institutional Review was in 2013-14. The Review concluded: 'The institution has effective arrangements for managing academic standards and the student learning experience. These arrangements are likely to continue to be effective in the future. This is a positive judgement, which means the institution has robust arrangements for securing academic standards and for enhancing the quality of the student experience'. This judgement is the best that can be achieved in the ELIR system.

Scottish Funding Council for Further and Higher Education website:

Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education website:

The Quality Assurance Agency’s Enhancement-led Institutional Review: 

The Quality Assurance Agency’s 2013-14 Enhancement-led Institutional Review report on the University:

QAA Quality Mark thumbnail

Click here to read this institution's latest review report.

Conformity with the Framework for Qualifications of Higher Education Institutions in Scotland

All Universities in the UK are expected to conform to the terms of the QAA’s Quality Code for Higher Education. Part of the QAA Quality Code comprises the expectation that universities in Scotland will locate the qualifications they offer at the appropriate level within the Framework for Qualifications of Higher Education Institutions in Scotland – the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). The SCQF provides guidance for the setting and assessment of academic standards, with descriptions of each academic level and a measure of the normal volume of qualifications as measured in credits. The expectation that the University is setting appropriate standards is assessed at the five-yearly Institutional Reviews described above.

The University’s Quality Framework

The University’s Framework for the management and enhancement of the Quality of its academic provision may be found at the following webpage. This provides information of the arrangements the University uses to assure its academic standards and to maintain and enhance the quality of its programmes and courses and how these arrangements conform to national requirements.

Accreditation of Degrees by Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Bodies

Many University degrees are also accredited by bodies external to the University. Accreditation is the process whereby a professional association or non-governmental agency gives recognition to a School or institution for its demonstrated ability to meet predetermined criteria for established professional, statutory and/or regulatory standards. The frequency and manner in which accreditation is carried out varies. For further information, see the relevant School webpages, or:

University of Glasgow: Types of Degree Awarded

First Degrees - Bologna First Cycle awards
Most undergraduate students take Honours degrees after four years of study. Honours degrees are classified according to student performance: first (the highest), upper second, lower second, or third; exceptionally, they may be awarded as unclassified Honours degrees. Honours degrees in modern languages, which require students to spend a year abroad, take five years. In the tradition of the Scottish ancient universities, many first degrees in arts disciplines have the designation Master of Arts; other first degrees have the designation Bachelor. A number of students graduate after three years with a Designated or General degree. The BDS, BVMS and MB ChB are five-year, non-Honours degrees. Students undertaking the latter degrees may additionally study for an intercalated Bachelor’s degree.

Higher Degrees – Bologna Second Cycle awards
Postgraduate students undertake a wide range of taught and research Master’s degrees, which typically involve one or two years of study. Postgraduate Certificates and Diplomas are also available in a number of disciplines. The MEng and MSci are degrees that take students to a postgraduate level of study in five years, without their having initially obtained a Bachelor’s degree.

Higher Degrees – Bologna Third Cycle awards
Most doctoral students undertake the PhD. A number of doctorate awards in designated professional areas are also available. The University also awards higher doctorates in a range of disciplines.

The University of Glasgow additionally validates degrees for which students study at a number of associated or accredited institutions that do not have the power to award degrees in their own right. A number of degrees are also awarded jointly with other universities.

Detailed information on the requirements of each degree programme and a full list of degrees awarded are published each year in the University Calendar which is available at: Assessment for each award is carried out in accordance with the University’s Code of Assessment in force at the time and published in the relevant edition of the University Calendar. Further programme information is published in programme specifications which are currently available at:

The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401