How to change course

This information applies to undergraduate and postgraduate taught students. Different information applies to postgraduate research students.

If you are considering changing course there are some practical things you need to consider first.

Once you have discussed your plans and decided that you want to change course, you will need to make a formal request using the online course change form. In order to submit the form you need to be a registered student at our University.

This will need to be considered by your department, or your new department if your new course is in a different department, and the relevant dean. The department will consider your suitability to study the course (the modules you have studied and passed at Essex, and your existing qualifications) and also its capacity to accept additional students.

Types of change and deadlines 

There are a number of factors that will affect how your request to change course is considered. These include when you submit the request and academic issues concerning the suitability of your request. Deadlines for the submission of requests vary depending on the type of request. The most common situations are set out below.

Changing course in current year

Scenario: At the start of the academic year, you change from the current year of course A to the current year of course B, immediately.

The deadline for requests to change course within the current year is 18 October 2019 (Friday of week 3). If you have started your course, but have quickly realised that it is not the right course for you, it may be possible for you to ask to change to a different course in the same year but only if you apply before the deadline.

The deadline is to ensure that you can start attending the classes and lectures for the new course as soon as possible. We will assess how much teaching and assessment you have missed from the new course when considering your request.

Applications made after the deadline are normally refused but may be exceptionally approved, in some cases with additional conditions.

Changes for next year

Scenario: You successfully complete the first year of course A and change to the second year of course B.

You may request to change course so that you start your new course only at the end of the successful completion of your current year, allowing you to progress to the following year of the new course. You can make the request to change course for your next year of study at any time in the current year but should be aware that you will need to successfully complete your current year of study to be able to progress to the next year of study on your new course.

Consideration will be given to whether you have studied all the required modules to proceed to the next year of your new course. If you have not studied all of the required modules, a department may be willing to consider a request for a Special Syllabus or for additional assessment taken over the summer, but this will not be possible in every case (see below).

Changes involving a special syllabus

Scenario: You successfully complete the first year of course A and change to the second year of a specially approved version of course B.

A special syllabus is a variation from the standard structure/modules of a course. It is needed where a student wants to change course but needs to take a particular module, usually a compulsory or core module, which does not appear in the standard structure of their new course. Where this is the case, but the department/school/centre is willing to support your request to change course, they may advise you to submit an online form to request a special syllabus for the new course.

You will need to submit the request for a special syllabus after your request to change course has been approved. The request will be carefully considered by the department and the Deputy Dean (Education) for the faculty.

Changes involving additional assessment over the summer

Scenario: You are undertaking the first year of Course A and request to change to Course B from the start of the second year, but have not studied all of the necessary first year modules on Course B.

For the change to be approved, you will need to successfully complete the first year of Course A. As a condition of your change of course being approved, you may also be required to undertake additional assessment over the summer in a core module(s) or pre-requisite(s) for Course B, if you have not already undertaken and passed these as part of Course A.

You are advised to submit requests for a change of course involving additional assessment over the summer by 1 May 2020 (Friday of week 31). Any requests received after this date will be considered on an individual basis.

You will only be permitted to undertake a maximum of 30 credits of additional assessment over the summer. This is an exceptional arrangement to allow students to make a change of course without repeating a stage. The standard Rules of Assessment apply, meaning that you can only undertake additional assessment if you do not exceed the maximum of 60 credits reassessment allowed.

An entry fee of £50.00 is payable as part of the assessment; this is in line with the University’s standard assessment entry fee for assessment undertaken over the summer.

The Student Progress Team will confirm what additional module(s) you are required to undertake as part of the course approval process. You will be contacted separately by the relevant department, who will provide you with details of a nominated academic, who will act as a point of contact for the guided learning on the module(s). The department will also provide you with details of how and when you will be assessed during the summer.

You should be aware that as the additional assessment is being undertaken as a condition to ensure you meet the Rules of Assessment and learning outcomes for the new course, you will not be awarded any credits for the module(s); nor will the module(s) appear on your Academic Transcript.

Changes involving a repeat year

Scenario: You complete year one of course A and change to year one of course B.

A course change may be approved only on the condition that you start the year again so that you take all of the required compulsory modules for your new course. This will extend the time that it takes to achieve the award. You will need to be sure that you have investigated the implications of this in terms of your funding arrangements and also what it means for you in accordance with the Rules of Assessment.

Adding a year of study abroad or placement year

Changes involving an intermission

Scenario: You intermit from the first year of course A and return next academic year to the first year of course B.

A course change may be approved only on the condition that you start the year again so that you take all of the required compulsory modules for your new course. In this case, you may choose or you may be advised to intermit from your current course to restart the new course next academic year. This will extend the time that it takes to achieve the award.

It is important that you read the information about intermission which includes details of the deadlines for submitting intermission requests. We will take these into account when considering your request.

You will need to be sure that you have investigated the implications of this in terms of your funding arrangements and also what it means for you in accordance with the Rules of Assessment.

Professional accreditation considerations

Changing your course to a similar course within your department/school/centre may still enable you to obtain the professional accreditation you seek with your vocational course, such as a qualifying law degree. However, you need to be aware of any professional body requirements including any limitations on the length of time you take to complete the course and what modules or pass requirements are required on top of the University's own rules. Law students, for example, could change from LLB Laws (with a year abroad) to LLB Law and still obtain a qualifying law degree as long as the relevant Foundations of Knowledge subjects are taken.

You should contact your department/school/centre with any questions about professional body requirements.

Maximum period of study (undergraduate students)

Undergraduate students have a maximum period in which to complete their studies. This is set at the point at which you register and is normally the length of your programme plus two additional years.

This is to allow some flexibility in cases where you find you must intermit, or you fail a stage of study and must repeat it, or you want to transfer to a new course and must retake a stage of study.

Transfers of programme are still included in the original maximum period unless they involve moving to or from a four-year course. However, you must complete your studies within this maximum period. Each of the following counts as one additional year. You will not be permitted to do any of these actions more than twice or exceed two of these actions in any combination:

  • repeating a stage (whether by full- or part-time attendance)
  • undertaking reassessment the following year without attendance
  • transferring to a new course and repeating a stage
  • intermitting for part or all of a year

Further details about the length of study for each award can be found in the Framework for University Awards in our Undergraduate Rules of Assessment.

Change approval

You will receive an email when your course change has been approved.

For more complicated requests the Progress Team will send you another detailed communication outlining any conditions to the change of course, as well as providing information on what to do next.

Module enrolment (eNROL)

If you have changed course in the same year, ie. early in the autumn term, you will be advised how to select any optional modules for your new course when you are notified that your request has been approved. If you are starting a different course next academic year, you can use eNROL in the normal way to select any optional modules for your course.

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