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Exploring current best practice in the UK in the development of dual award degrees

A dual award, or ‘cotutelle’ as it is sometimes known, is a PhD programme in which the PGR is enrolled at 2 universities and has a supervisory team at both universities. Typically, the PGR will have a ‘home’ university where they usually start their studies and a ‘host’ university where they will spend at least 12 months of the PhD – usually in another country.


The cotutelle student writes only one thesis under the regulatory requirements of both institutions and as a result, is awarded two degrees, one from each university.


A number of claims are made regarding the benefits of the international dual award PhD both to the PGR and the institute, such as:

  • increased resources either in the form of laboratory space, libraries or archives at the partner institution
  • increased exposure to cross-cultural working resulting in a broader perspective on the research and improved career opportunities
  • increased opportunities to attend conferences, other research venues, and regional events in different parts of the globe
  • increased financial benefits in the form of studentships for those who are capable of navigating the additional complexity of a cotutelle. 


However, these claims are not systematically examined for their relevance and validity within the landscape of PhD education in today’s society and when bringing together two sets of Doctoral regulations, often in very different cultures, regulatory environments and research contexts, there can be difficulties in developing programmes that fulfill the regulations required by both partners as well as providing an excellent student experience.


This project will seek to explore current best practice in the UK in the development of dual award degrees, by bringing together a representative working group of UK universities to share their experiences.


The team will compile a reflection document on best practice in the development and review of dual award degrees as highlighted by the findings of this project – this will be available for use across the sector along with recommendations for next steps.

Project lead:

Coventry University

Project partners:

University of Warwick, University of Glasgow, University of Hertfordshire and Northumbria University

Other Collaborative Enhancement Projects

QAA supports a number of projects every year, covering a range of topics and interest areas. Each is led by a QAA Member, working in collaboration with other members institutions. You can find more information on all projects, and access resources and outputs, on our website.