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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

1.2.5: General Admissions Procedures:Taught Postgraduate

1. Introduction

1. The instructions of Senate on admissions matters must be adhered to strictly. Individual variations can eventually become confusing for other staff involved in admissions, and creates an impression of a lack of order to people outside the University.

2. The following procedures apply to all candidates for admission to taught postgraduate degree programmes in Durham, whether their permanent address is in the UK or Overseas.

3. It is University strategy to encourage the admission of properly qualified students who will pay the overseas student fees, i.e. generally those whose normal residence is outside the UK or, in the case of an EC national, the European Economic Area.

4. Except as agreed between the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office and an individual department all applications for postgraduate programmes must be made through the University's standard on-line postgraduate application form.

2. Basic Principles

1. The responsibility for determining the acceptability of a candidate rests with the Board of Studies. The Board may delegate its responsibility to its Chairman or Chairwoman, the Director of Postgraduate Studies or a Postgraduate Committee, but the arrangements the Board makes should be made known to all members of the Board and be in accordance with procedures determined by the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office. Whatever the arrangements, the decision to admit a candidate will not rest with one individual.

2. As a matter of principle, when the procedures require the approval of a course director and of the Chairman or Chairwoman on behalf of the Board of Studies, and those roles are held by the same person, two members of staff should be involved in the decision, e.g. the Director of Postgraduate Studies, or the Secretary, should act for the Board. In all cases where two signatures are required, they should be those of two different members of staff.

3. The Board of Studies must be satisfied with a candidate's competence to undertake a taught postgraduate programme.

4. Candidates for higher degrees must normally hold at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent, although a case can be made for acceptance on the basis of other qualifications and experience relevant to the field of study through a matriculation concession.

3. Selection

Academic approval of candidature is based on the following:

1. In line with the general principles above, candidates must be graduates of this or another approved University, or possess some other qualification approved by the Education Committee. Normally an upper second class Honours degree or equivalent in a subject relevant to the proposed course of study is required, although account will be taken of other evidence of ability to undertake advanced study. Candidates for whom English is not their native language must also normally meet the English Language requirements of the University (please see section 1.3.1 for details). Where there is any doubt about the acceptability of an applicant's qualifications, the advice of the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office should be sought at an early stage and before the application is submitted for approval.

2. Applicants must indicate on the application form their proposed plan and method of study, i.e. over what period of time, (how many terms/months/years, as specified in the Regulations), whether full time or part-time, and the relevant dates. The starting date for candidates for taught postgraduate degrees is normally 1st October, unless otherwise specified in the Programme Regulations.

4. Admissions Scheme: Full-time and Part-time

Any student, who wishes to become a full time student for a higher degree, must be admitted to a college or society. The on-line application form permits students to indicate a college or society preference and to indicate their interest in accommodation if it were to be available at the same time as their academic details and higher degree aspirations. Students proceeding by wholly part-time study are also required to be members of a college or society but are not eligible for accommodation. Otherwise their applications are processed in the same way as for full-time students. The normal procedure for postgraduate applications is as contained in the swim lanes diagram which can be found on the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office web-site.

1. Guidance notes on the criteria for home/overseas fee clarification for Postgraduate applicants can be found in section 1.2.9. Any case which does not appear straightforward should be referred to the Student Recruitment and Admissions Office.

2. The procedure for dealing with cases where an applicant has a criminal conviction can be found in section 1.2.6.

5. Registration

1. Once approval of candidature has been given, and the offer of a place to read for the degree accepted, students are required to confirm their presence by completing a University programme registration form at the initial starting date of their period of study, and annually thereafter in the following June/July. Registration is usually completed online. Instructions on how to register are issued annually. Receipt of the programme registration in the University's central student records office maintains the official record of a student's academic progress.

2. The Programme Director must verify the form, indicating that the details of the course of study are correct.

3. Students who fail to register cannot count unregistered periods towards their course requirements, nor do they appear in a department's student numbers.

Further information is available at