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 other universities offering modular programmes, 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 your CATS points, you should check this with the institution directly.

CATS and credit frameworks within the UK

You can find fuller details through the following links:

See also Qualifications can Cross Boundaries: A guide to comparing qualifications in the UK and Ireland.

CATS and credit frameworks outside the UK

  • Europe: 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 elsewhere) to be ‘brought in’, and may 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 they are available, details will normally 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.

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 are at FHEQ Level 4 (so the level of teaching equates to the first year of an undergraduate degree). As a broad guide, a two-hour taught session plus about 8 hours of private study normally equates to one CATS point.

Certificate of Higher Education (gaining credit in advance)

If you are considering using CATS points gained earlier for our Undergraduate Certificate of Higher Education, we strongly advise you to register for credit when you enrol on the courses that will count towards it (although you can still do so any time before each course starts). There is an additional fee of £10 per course.

Postgraduate level: short selective courses

Many one-week residential and online modules from postgraduate award-bearing programmes are open to external students, for professional development, or as a 'taster' before committing to the full award programme.

Normally, you will be encouraged to take the modules for academic credit, and if you later successfully apply for the full programme, prior credit gained may count towards it and exempt you from taking certain modules again (subject to course rules).

CATS points for modules are awarded proportionally; for example, a single module from a three-module postgraduate certificate (60 CATS points at level FHEQ 7) will equate to 20 CATS points at that level.

In many cases, the course fee already includes the 'for credit' element, but in some cases there is a 'credit/ no credit' option with corresponding fees.

Credit framework and equivalence


While specific course web pages detail particulars of a course, the following section offers general guidance on levels of study, course duration, and CATS points awarded on successful completion of courses taken through this department. More general information can be found in the QAA’s Credit Framework for England.

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.
  • 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 (*the PGCert in Architectural History is credited at 90 CATS points).
  • 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.