Academic Registry and Council Secretariat

Quality Assurance menu

Joint and Double Degrees

Joint Degrees and Double Degrees – what is the difference?

Both types of arrangements involve significant collaboration effort with an external partner in developing and delivering a degree programme to the extent that the programme would not exist in the absence of the partnership.  In both cases, successful completion of the entire programme by the student to the satisfaction of both institutions is essential before either institution could issue any form of award.  The key difference is that a Joint Degree would lead to one single award by both institutions and a Double Degree would lead to two awards one by each institution.  Double Degrees are most usually chosen in cases where there are legal or regulatory reasons why a single award is not possible for one or both institutions.

Collaborative taught programmes leading to a joint award

QMUL currently permits taught joint award arrangements with UK institutions and with EU institutions within the Erasmus+ framework only. 

Definition: a joint award is a partnership arrangement whereby QMUL and one or more partner institutions together provide a programme that leads to a single award made jointly by both, or all, participants. A single certificate signed by QMUL and the partner(s) confirms the successful completion of the jointly delivered programme.

 Key points:

  1. Each partner must have the legal ability to award a joint degree.
  2. There is usually shared ownership of the curriculum and related IPR (Intellectual Property Rights).
  3. Students register with both/all institutions but one normally provides the lead for administrative purposes or students are free to select their designated home institution.
  4. Students have the right of access to learning resources at both/all institutions.
  5. The degree programme is subject to both/all institutions’ quality assurance processes, although there may be a pooling/sharing of processes.
  6. Joint programme regulations are normally required.
  7. There is a joint committee, responsible for overseeing and reviewing arrangements and which reports into the relevant structure at both/all institutions.
  8. There is a joint examination board/process which reports into the relevant structure at both/all institutions.
  9. Arrangements (including the student lifecycle) should be fully specified in the MOA.

Criteria for establishing joint awards

The following criteria will be considered when considering the strategic and business case for establishing joint awards:

  •  Proposals for joint awards will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The proposal must demonstrate clear benefits for both QMUL and for the students on the programme of study. The strategic case should explain the ways in which the programme of study will be enhanced through the collaboration, and what synergies will be realised through this model of delivery.   The benefits of the proposal should be proportionate to the overheads associated with establishing and supporting the programmes. 
  • The partner(s) should be of international standing at least equivalent to that of QMUL and the partnership should support QMUL’s Strategy. Evaluation of the partnership will be part of the due diligence process and will take into account: peer review, national and international measures. The proposal will need to make clear the rationale for the joint model of delivery. 
  • Partnership arrangements should be based on shared academic interests and complementary expertise.  In the case of international collaborations, the programme should exploit academically the opportunity for students to enrich their learning experience across different cultures. 
  • QMUL retains full responsibility for any award issued in its name and will maintain an overview of the academic standards for each element of the programme. 
  • The strategic case will need to set out the contribution made by each partner to the delivery and assessment of the programme. The extent of the contribution will be determined on a case by case basis.

 Overview of the procedure

  1.  Initial stage

    Provisional agreement to explore the partnership: this is made on the basis of a brief outline of the proposal to be sent to ARCS who will advise on issues that may need to be considered. Key points to consider at this stage:
  • Is the partner legally empowered to award a joint degree;
  • Details of the partner and a statement to cover compatibility with QMUL, status and ranking;
  • What are the benefits of the programme, both to QMUL and prospective students;
  • Relationship to QMUL Strategy/Faculty plans;
  • Who will be the lead institution;
  • Proposed start time for the programme;
  • Contribution of the partners to the programme: for a joint award, the normal expectation is that there will be an equal academic contribution from each partner.

 2.    Further to ARCS feedback on the proposal, the academic lead should prepare a more detailed proposal and business case for approval by Faculty Executive/ Faculty Planning and Accountability Review (FPAR).

 3.    Stage 1 strategic approval

Partnerships Board (PB)/Queen Mary Senior Executive (QMSE) (depending on the complexity of the proposal) will grant strategic approval of the partnership. This is done on the on the basis of a Stage 1 Partnership and Programme Proposal form and a Due Diligence process and Risk Assessment. Once a programme has passed Stage 1 partnership and programme approval PB will indicate when it can marketed.

 4.  Stage two approval of provision

Detailed academic approval by the Taught Programmes Board (TPB) on the basis of a Part 2 Programme Proposal Form. It is expected that TPB papers would be accompanied by a draft MOA. Following Stage 2 academic approval, the detailed Agreements or Contracts can be finalised and signed.

Collaborative taught programmes leading to a double award/multiple award

Definition: QMUL and a partner institution collaborate to develop and deliver a single programme leading to separate awards from each institution.  Arrangements involving more than two partners would lead to multiple awards in the same way.

Each certificate and/or transcript or record of achievement or Diploma Supplement indicates that a jointly delivered single programme is leading to two or more qualifications of the participant partners.

Key points:

1. Double degrees differ from joint degrees mainly in that each institution issues its own award. 
2. Each partner delivers and assesses substantial elements of the programme; 
3. Students are registered at both institutions throughout their studies; 
4. Bespoke programme regulations are often required and are agreed by all partners;
5. Each partner is responsible for the assessment of the components that it delivers;
6. A decision is made about whether a single marking scheme is to be adopted by all partners or whether components will be marked in accordance with the local regulations and then rescaled to the scheme of each individual partner;
7. Separate degree certificates are normally issued from each institution;
8. The double award is normally dependent on the student completing each part of the programme successfully;
9. The quality assurance processes to be followed are articulated in the Memorandum of Agreement;
10. QMUL will consider any implications of double counting of academic credit towards a double award on a case-by-case basis.
11.Where QMUL recognises modules from the partner’s provision as contributing to its award, the maximum amount of credit that QMUL would recognise will normally be set at the limit for advanced standing for the respective award: LLM: 45 credits, MSc/MA/MRes/PGDip: 30 credits, PGCert: 15 credits, MSci/MEng: 240 credits.

Criteria for establishing double awards

  1. The partner(s) must be of international standing at least equivalent to QMUL and the partnership should deliver clear benefits to both QMUL and the students on the programme. Evaluation of the partner’s/partners’ standing will be part of the due diligence process and will take into account: peer review, national and international measures. 
  2. There must be a demonstrable need and rationale for the granting of multiple awards in order to facilitate the recognition of student achievement across different national jurisdictions. 
  3. Proposals for double awards must demonstrate the added value and strategic benefits of the partnership. These benefits must be proportionate to the overheads associated with establishing and supporting the programmes. 
  4. Students must be registered at both QMUL and the partner institution(s). 
  5. All promotional materials, programme documents, and certificates and/or transcripts that are issued by QMUL and partner institution(s) must clarify in an agreed form of words that the programme leads to double or multiple awards. 
  6. QMUL’s oversight of academic quality and standards on the programme must be in accordance with its normal regulations and policies. These will be stated in the detailed Memorandum of Agreement.

Academic regulations: QMUL academic regulations apply to the programme unless QMUL and the partner agree to adopt a special set of regulations for the programme.

Overview of the procedure: Follows the same stages as for the taught joint programmes:.


Return to top