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(Image credit: Henry Lee / Graduate Photography Competition)

Changes to courses

This website is designed for those applying to the University of Oxford in 2023-24 for graduate study. 

The University will seek to deliver each course in accordance with the description set out in the Course Information Sheet sent to applicants with their offer of a place. Course webpages at the A-Z of courses page give further details.

However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after enrolment. There are two main scenarios in which such changes might happen:

  1. Normal circumstances (where there is no pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency); and
  2. Circumstances where a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency arises, or has arisen.

The remarks below are a summary - please refer to the Terms and Conditions for your contract with the University for more details.

The provision of course options which depend on the availability of specialist teaching, or on placement at another institution, cannot be guaranteed in advance.

Changes to courses in normal circumstances

Where desirable or necessary changes are to be made, the University will offer, where possible, appropriate and alternative options for affected students. If you do not wish to accept any alternative arrangements then you will have the opportunity to withdraw from your course.

The University will not make very substantial changes to courses (for example, a change to the course title, significant restructuring, substantial change in course content, or the introduction of a progression hurdle) which would impact on you once you have started your course. In exceptional circumstances the University may need to make such a change after you have accepted your place. This will not normally happen less than 3 months before the first day of the Full Term in which you start your course. In exceptional circumstances we may need to suspend, discontinue or combine courses. This may be because of academic changes within subject areas, as a result of low student numbers on a course.

Other changes could be made to course content, delivery and teaching provision because of developments in the relevant subject, enhancements in teaching or assessment practice, requirements of external accreditation processes, changes in staffing, resource constraints or changes in the availability of facilities. Such changes will take account of the reasonable expectations of prospective and current students.

Once you have accepted your Offer, you will be notified of any material change made before you start your course (as compared to the description in your Course Information Sheet) and you will be offered the opportunity to withdraw from the course.

On-course students will be consulted about any proposed material course change (except changes which are solely for their benefit) which would affect the part of the course which they have already started studying.

Changes to courses because of a pandemic, epidemic or local health emergency

Where a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency necessitating measures to reduce risk of infection or illness arises the University may make reasonable changes to comply with government or local authority regulations or guidance, and/or its own health and safety advice and/or to ensure the health and safety of staff, students and third parties and/or to respond to consequential staffing or resource constraints. The University will inform you if it makes such changes, but no right to withdraw, or consultation, applies since such changes are caused by external events outside the University’s control, and the University has notified you in advance about types of changes that might be needed.

Examples of measures the University may take in such circumstances include:

  1. Providing teaching, assessment or other services wholly or partly online or via other remote means;
  2. Moving the location of teaching and/or restricting student numbers permitted to attend any location at one time (including restricting numbers at libraries, lectures, seminars or laboratories);
  3. Teaching at evenings, weekends or outside Full Term;
  4. Requiring students to comply with:
    • social distancing measures;
    • wearing of face-masks;
    • wearing personal protective equipment;
    • other health and safety measures the University deems necessary;
  5. Staggering attendance by students at University;
  6. Varying, limiting or cancelling any course content, or optional modules;
  7. Varying, limiting or cancelling access to any University services or facilities;
  8. Varying, limiting or cancelling any learning experiences that would normally happen face to face or in-person (eg work in laboratories, museums, studios, music facilities or via fieldwork or work-placement).
  9. Varying, limiting, cancelling or putting in place measures to reduce the risk of any time due to be spent in education or work abroad or on a placement (including varying destinations) as a mandatory or optional component of courses. If a year abroad, or other placement, has to be cancelled entirely then this includes moving a student to an appropriate degree course that does not include the time abroad or placement.

When making such changes the University will still provide the core competencies and learning outcomes of each course, and broadly equivalent teaching, assessment and other services, by alternative means, if reasonably possible, though the manner of delivery may change. Subject to that, no refunds, discounts, damages or waivers of course fees or other charges will be payable to you where changes or delays have resulted from, been caused by, or are in relation to a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency necessitating measures to reduce risk of infection or illness.


Supervisory allocations for students may change during the course of study for reasons which might include illness, sabbatical leave, maternity leave, change in employment or other changes connected to a pandemic (including Covid-19), epidemic or local health emergency. If this occurs the department will be responsible for ensuring that a new supervisor is appointed as soon as possible (either on a temporary or permanent basis) and the student will be kept informed as soon as reasonably possible.

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