Declared awards | University of Oxford

Declared awards

This page provides detailed information about ‘Declared to have Deserved Honours’ (DDH) and the new ‘Declared to have Deserved Masters’ (DDM) awards, which have been introduced in 2020 to account for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

About Declared to have Deserved Honours and Declared to have Deserved Masters degrees

A Declared to have Deserved Honours Degree is an unclassified undergraduate degree. A Declared to have Deserved Foundation Certificate/Undergraduate Certificate/Diploma/Advanced Diploma have been introduced this year and are also available. These are collectively referred to as DDH. It will be awarded when a student has been unable to complete their summative assessments for legitimate reasons, and the examination board is satisfied that they would have been likely to have obtained an Honours degree (or a pass degree for the other awards) had they been able to complete their assessments.

The postgraduate equivalent is a Declared to have Deserved Masters degree, or a Declared to have Deserved Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate (collectively referred to as DDM), depending upon the award that the student was enrolled upon. The University has introduced these for the 2019/20 academic year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As with the DDH, these are unclassified degrees and will be awarded when students are unable to complete their summative assessments.

While the formal awards will be unclassified, transcripts will be adapted to explain the unusual pandemic circumstances behind them, and will be accompanied by an enhanced reference letter indicating the class of degree the student was expected to achieve, as far as this can be determined by the available evidence. Further information about these transcripts will follow in the near future. 


If you are unable to take and/or complete your Trinity Term assessments, you may be eligible to opt for: 

  • exit with a classified degree - if you have completed some summative assessment the examination board would look to see whether enough had been completed so that a classified degree could still be awarded.
  • Suspension - so you can return to complete your assessment in Trinity term 2021
  • exit with an unclassified degree and be Declared to have Deserved Honours/Foundation Certificate/Undergraduate Certificate/Diploma/Advanced Diploma (DDH) (if undergraduate, depending upon the degree you were enrolled on) or Declared to have Deserved Masters/Postgraduate Diploma/Certificate (DDM) (if postgraduate, depending upon the degree you were enrolled on). 

It is envisaged that students will only opt for DDH or DDM if a classified degree is not possible and they did not wish to suspend and return to complete any outstanding assessments next year.

If you are unsure what to do, you should speak to your College and/or Department about the options available to you. If you are unable to participate in any teaching as well as assessment (which may be a particular problem for students on taught postgraduate courses) then suspension may be a better option than DDH or DDM, but much will depend upon your personal circumstances.

Applying for DDH or DDM

You will be able to apply for DDH or DDM at any point through Trinity term. This is in recognition of the fact that you may become unable to complete your assessments, either through illness or changing personal circumstances, at any stage.

If you are unable to take assessments (including examinations and coursework), you should complete an ‘excusal for absence from assessment’ form available on the Proctors’ Office website. The form includes an option to indicate that you wish to be considered for a DDH or DDM. You may apply for DDH or DDM at any point during Trinity term or during the following Long Vacation, it is expected that this should be no later than 14 days after the date of your final assessment.

You should only apply for DDH/DDM if you are unable to take some or all of your assessments and you will need to explain why you are unable to complete those assessments. However evidence is not required.

What happens after I have submitted a request to be considered for DDH/DDM?

Once your application for excusal has been accepted, a central panel will gather evidence of your academic standing from your college and/or department. They will request confirmation that:

  • You have passed all summative assessment to date, in accordance with the subject’s normal rules
  • You do not have any resits for summative assessment outstanding
  • You have achieved a satisfactory performance in formative assessment
  • You are not subject to any outstanding academic disciplinary procedures 

The central panel will not usually contact students for further information about their DDH/DDM request.

The central panel will collate this information and then inform the relevant examination board of their findings. The examination board will use that information to determine whether DDH or DDM can be awarded or not. The final decision rests with the examination board and they will normally look to see if it is possible to award a classified degree in the first instance. It is for these reasons that students cannot be notified that they have been awarded a DDH/DDM until after the examination board has met. 

Recognition of the awards

Declared Awards issued as a result of the pandemic in 2020 will be accepted for completion of academic conditions for admission to graduate programmes at Oxford due to start in 2020-21 and will be considered as sufficient to apply to Oxford in future years. 

We are currently working with employers and other universities to explain this new status, and to highlight that it relates to the extraordinary circumstances related to the pandemic. We will adapt the transcript to explain the unusual pandemic circumstances behind this award. 

Discussions are underway with professional bodies as to whether they will recognise the awards. Your department will let you know once they have further information about professional body accreditation. 

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