Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme, and qualification frameworks

The Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)

The Scheme

The Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (known as CATS) enables academic credit (or ‘CATS points’) to be transferred between higher education institutions.

Many Continuing Education courses carry CATS points, including those leading to an undergraduate or postgraduate award, as well as courses that can simply be taken for academic credit.

Transferring credit between institutions

Credit points may be transferred to other higher education institutions (including the Open University) and many typically ‘modular’ universities such as Oxford Brookes University and elsewhere.

Although an institution may accept and ‘count in’ transferred credit, students have no automatic entitlement to this. Admissions decisions, including any exemption from part of a programme, will depend on the institution’s rules. If you are considering transferring CATS points, you should you should check this with the institution directly.

CATS within the UK

CATS is used throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland; the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) has a similar scheme, with a points system equivalent to CATS.

CATS outside the UK

European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)

To convert CATS to ECTS credit, divide the CATS points by two. For example, 120 CATS points equates to 60 ECTS credits.

Other countries

Please check with the national body responsible and/or the overseas institution.

CATS and prior study when applying for courses at Oxford

Applying for award-bearing courses at the Department

Some award-bearing programmes permit prior academic credit (whether from a course offered here or externally) to be ‘brought in’ and to grant a partial exemption from the full course requirements. The credit could be from a related programme or an external course. Exemptions are not automatic but discretionary, and are subject to limits. Where available, details will appear on the course web pages.

Applying for undergraduate degrees at Oxford

While many of our courses carry CATS points, most cannot themselves be used to seek an exemption when applying for Oxford undergraduate degree programmes. You can find out about acceptable qualifications on the University Course admission requirements pages.

Using Foundation Certificates taken through the Department

Students on our Foundation Certificates in English Language and Literature, and in History can apply to study a complete undergraduate degree at any university, including here at Oxford. If applying to Oxford, they may be able to join in year two of the relevant undergraduate course.

Short courses: gaining and using CATS points

Undergraduate level (FHEQ Level 4): Weekly Classes and Short Online Courses

Coursework is an integral part of our Weekly Classes and our Short Online Courses. However, only those who have registered for credit can be awarded CATS points.

Generally, most of the Department's weekly classes and short online courses carry either 10 or 20 CATS points, and the majority is at FHEQ Level 4 (so the level of teaching equates to the first year of an undergraduate degree). Usually, but not always, a two-hour taught session plus about 8 hours of private study equates to one CATS point.

Certificate of Higher Education (gaining credit in advance)

If you are considering using CATS points gained earlier for the Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education, we strongly advise you to register for credit at the point of enrolment on the courses that will count towards it.

How to register for credit

You can register for credit when enrolling (or until the course starts); the additional fee is £10 per course.

Postgraduate level: short selective courses

Some one-week residential or online modules on postgraduate award-bearing programmes welcome external students, who might take these for professional development, or before committing to the full award programme.

Gaining credit in advance

CATS points, or academic credit, can be gained on successful completion of the associated coursework. The credit can be used for partial exemption if you are later admitted to the full course (subject to conditions), or for a course elsewhere. The CATS points are awarded proportionally; for example, a single module from a three-module postgraduate certificate (60 CATS points at FHEQ 7) will equate to 20 CATS points.

How to register for credit

Where there is an option to register for credit, you should select this. For some courses there will be an additional fee.

Credit framework and equivalence


'The credit framework is written for HE providers in England as a description of the typical practice developed across the sector - to provide a reference point for those wishing to introduce or consolidate their use of credit.' (QAA Higher education credit framework for England, p.4 , 2008).

While specific course web pages will detail particulars of a course, the following section offers general guidance on levels of study, course duration and CATS points awarded on successful completion.

Undergraduate courses

  • Undergraduate certificates: Taught at first-year undergraduate level over two years (Certificate in Higher Education two to four years); carry 120 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4.
  • Foundation certificates: Taught at first-year undergraduate level over two years (Certificate in Higher Education two to four years); carry 120 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4.
  • Undergraduate diplomas: Taught at second-year undergraduate level over two years, carry 120 CATS points at FHEQ Level 5.
  • Undergraduate advanced diplomas: Taught at third-year undergraduate level over one year, carries 60 CATS points at FHEQ Level 6.

NB it is not possible to ‘claim’ an undergraduate degree by amalgamating an undergraduate certificate, diploma and advanced diploma, but it may be possible to transfer credit to other university degree courses, as explained above.

Postgraduate courses

The duration of postgraduate courses can vary - see specific course websites.

  • Postgraduate certificates: Taught at master’s level, carry 60 CATS points at FHEQ Level 7.
  • Postgraduate diplomas: Taught at master’s level, carry 120 CATS points at FHEQ Level 7.
  • Taught master’s degrees: Taught at master’s level, carry 180 CATS points at FHEQ Level 7.
  • Doctoral degrees (DPhil): These are not credit-rated.