Student and applicant FAQs

These are some of the questions we've been asked by prospective students. Please don't hesitate to ask anything you don't see mentioned below by emailing


Who is Continuing Education for?

The Department for Continuing Education offers opportunities for study to anyone who is willing and capable. Our students comprise adults of all ages and circumstances, who come from all walks of life and from many different parts of the world.

Do I need a degree to study at the Department?

You only need a degree for study at postgraduate level. In fact, many courses can be taken with no previous qualifications.

What do 'undergraduate' and 'postgraduate' mean?

'Undergraduate' refers to a student who is studying for their first degree, or part of their first degree. Once awarded their first degree, they are called a 'graduate'. A student may wish to take a further degree, and this is often called postgraduate study.

What are Undergraduate Certificates, Diplomas and Advanced Diplomas?

These are Oxford University awards for which the Department runs a range of courses.  Each type of award reflects respectively the level of teaching expected for the first, second and third years of an undergraduate degree. These awards carry transferable credit: see Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme, and qualification frameworks for further information.

I study on an Undergraduate Certificate (or Diploma, or Advanced Diploma) with the Department. Am I an undergraduate of the University?

You are a member of the University, and have access to its libraries, the Students Union, Oxford University Clubs and Societies, and so on. (To avoid confusion between full-time undergraduates and part-time students studying at undergraduate level, the University has classified OUDCE students on these courses as 'Registered part-time students'.)

Does the Department offer degree programmes?

Yes. We offer postgraduate degrees (MSc., MSt. and DPhil, as listed under the 'Postgraduate' tab above). However, the University does not offer part-time undergraduate degrees (the Bachelor of Theology degree being an exception). Our undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications are all awarded by the University of Oxford.

Will an undergraduate qualification gained through the Department help if I apply for a full-time undergraduate degree at Oxford?

Any undergraduate qualifications you have will form part of your educational profile, which may be helpful when applying. Students who successfully complete our Undergraduate Certificates in History and in English Literature can apply (competitively) through an Oxford college to enter the second year of an undergraduate degree in History or English.

Will qualifications gained through the Department help if I apply for a postgraduate degree at Oxford?

Various pathways are possible, and we recommend contacting the course administrator to discuss this. You might consider, for example:

  • Prior undergraduate and postgraduate study would normally be considered by an admissions panel.
  • Some of our postgraduate courses permit discretionary exemption from required elements where appropriate postgraduate study has already been taken (including short courses taken with us for postgraduate credit).
  • Progression to a part-time or full-time DPhil (doctoral degree) at Oxford, having succesfully completed a part-time master's with us.
  • Progression to a DPhil, after initially gaining an undergraduate qualification here, then transferring the credit and completing a degree elsewhere, before returning to complete a part-time (or full-time) master's at Oxford.

What are CATS points, and can I transfer credit from Oxford to another institution?

See Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme, and qualification frameworks to learn how credit gained through our programmes can be used at UK and international institutions.

Will I receive a certificate after my course? What can I do if it is lost?

See Certificates, transcripts and CATS points records, which will explain the position depending on the type of course you are following.

Can I join the Students Union, Clubs, Societies etc?

See Facilities and amenities under the section University sport, clubs and societies for what is available to students on award-bearing courses.

Can I apply for a student discount card?

TOTUM (which has replaced the old NUS Extra card) gives access to high street and international discounts. It is available to students on award-bearing courses (only), and can be extended beyond the end of your course. There are offers on food and essentials, tech, travel, and home delivery, plus fashion, beauty, and more, and purchasing TOTUM gives access to free registration with the International Student Identity Card (ISIC). For further information visit

Glossary of Oxford terminology

Some common terms

  • Michaelmas Term is from October until December
  • Hilary Term is from January until April
  • Trinity Term is from April until July
  • The Long Vacation is from July until September
  • ‘Matriculated’ is a student who is admitted to the University and is eligible to pursue a degree-granting programme. Matriculated students become members of a college.
  • ‘Non-matriculated’ is a student who is admitted to an award-bearing programme, such as an undergraduate or postgraduate certificate or diploma, but that does not award a full degree. Non-matriculated students are not normally members of a college.
  • 'Suspension of Status' is a break from a course of study, usually for the duration of a term or a year.
  • 'Deferral' is a postponement of taking up a place on a course, usually starting the course of study a year later than originally enrolled.
  • 'Extension of Time' is an extension to the number of terms in which to complete a course (for matriculated students).

For more, see the full Oxford Glossary.