Academic Manual



The UCL Academic Manual brings together in one location the academic regulations, policies and procedures applicable to all UCL taught and research students.

The Academic Manual should be read in conjunction with the individual Programme Summary which details the specific regulations in place on a particular programme. Students should also refer to their Student Handbooks (or equivalent) and departmental/divisional literature for more detailed information about their studies.


The main purposes of the Academic Manual are to:

  • Set and maintain the academic standards of UCL
  • Promote transparency and consistency across faculties and departments, ensuring that all students are treated fairly and equally
  • Provide students with a clear set of expectations in relation to their conduct and achievement.


The following key terms are used in the Academic Manual:

RegulationA binding statement or principle central to the contract between the university and students e.g. minimum requirements for an award, number of credits to be completed, calculation of classification.
RequirementA binding statement of minimum standards or expectations e.g. attendance, registration, meeting deadlines, codes of conduct.
ProcedureA binding set of tasks that must be completed for a specific purpose e.g. complaints procedure, irregularities procedure.
ProcessA non-binding set of tasks that are to be completed for a specific purpose e.g. How to register for a module.
GuidanceNon-binding, supplementary advice to help staff and students interpret a regulation, policy or process e.g. extenuating circumstances guidance notes.

Must, Should and May

To ensure that the expectations of faculties, departments, students and staff are clear, the following terms are adopted consistently throughout the framework:

Must:Indicates a regulation that will be adhered to in all circumstances. Deviations from such regulations would only be granted by the Director of UCL Academic Services on behalf of the Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs) in exceptional circumstances. For example “All programmes must include rigorous second-marking and internal moderation processes which promote consistency and fairness”.
Should:Indicates a regulation that will be adhered to unless sound pedagogical, professional or practical reasons prevent this. For example “A variety of assessment methods should be used across a programme of study to test different knowledge and skills”.
May:Indicates where an action or regulation is permitted but not mandatory, and where there might therefore be variations across programmes and modules. For example “Information may be provided in a number of formats including Student Handbooks, Moodle sites and the UCL intranet”. Where ‘may’ regulations are used, the specific arrangements in place on the programme must be explained clearly in the Student Handbook or equivalent. 


The Academic Manual indicates where a programme may set higher standards than the minimum, subject to approval by UCL. Programmes wishing to set higher standards must make a formal application via the channels defined in Chapter 7: Programme and Module Approval and Amendment Framework. All approved variations must be documented in the Programme Summary and clearly explained in the Student Handbook or equivalent.

Suspensions of Regulations

In exceptional circumstances, the regulations in the Academic Manual may be suspended by the Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs) or by the Pro-Vice Provost (Doctoral School). Further information can be found in Chapter 6, Section 7: Suspension of Regulations Procedure.

Amendments to the Academic Manual

Proposals for new or amended regulations, guidance notes, policies, procedures and forms are considered by UCL Education Committee, UCL Research Degrees Committee and/ or UCL Student Recruitment, Admissions and Funding Committee and reported to Academic Committee. 

Amendments for the coming year should be made before the start of each academic session. Changes should not be made in-session other than in exceptional circumstances.

Proposals for change should:

  • Provide for all qualifications in the university, ensuring that any acceptable variations are clearly defined and supported by a robust academic rationale
  • Highlight where authority is delegated to another body
  • Be written and presented in an accessible, specific style and format taking into account the needs of disabled users and readers whose first language is not English, and minimising duplication wherever possible.

Where proposed changes might have a significant or adverse effect on current or future students, proposals must be discussed with representatives of the student body.

Annual updates to the Academic Manual should be published to faculties and services in July to allow for updates to student handbooks and other materials, and published online in August. The previous year’s Academic Manual should be archived online.