Council of University Classical Departments

Coding of Ancient History degree programmes: implications for NSS and KIS

In the majority (though n.b. not all) of the institutions represented by CUCD, degree programmes in Ancient History are based in a department of Classics (vel. sim.). But because of the way that Ancient History programmes have traditionally been "coded", students on such programmes have generally been counted within History rather than within Classics in the published results of the National Student Survey (NSS). This can make life difficult for Classics departments with significant numbers of Ancient History students, given the pressure to reach the threshold for an NSS return in Classical subjects.

A similar problem has been causing the Ancient History degree programmes of many of our institutions to be placed in the History rather than the Classics subject grouping in the new Key Information Set web-page (KIS). As a result, a potential applicant looking for programmes in Classics (using the "subjects" interface at will at the time of writing (13 Oct 2012) find only four of the eighteen universities that offer single-honours Ancient History.

Both these problems can be solved, because it is now possible for any degree programme to separate the UCAS code ("Universities and Colleges Admissions Service", used for admissions) and the JACS code ("Joint Academic Coding System": this is the code which determines the locating of degree programmes within the subject-hierarchy that generates the NSS and KIS data). UCAS codes are set nationally, and for single-honours Ancient History the code is currently V110. By contrast, although the JACS code for a given degree programme has in the past been the same as its UCAS code, it is open to each University to choose any reasonable JACS code if this better reflects local circumstances.

Where Ancient History programmes are based within a department of Classics, CUCD therefore recommends changing the JACS code esp. for single-honours Ancient History programmes to Q800, which is the default JACS code for programmes in Classics. (This recommendation does not apply to the minority of institutions where Anc.Hist. programmes are based within a department e.g. of History or Archaeology.) THIS IS URGENT: such a change has to be made in your University's annual return to HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency), the deadline for which is 31 October.

Although the advice here comes from CUCD, it has been drawn up following consultation with Richard Puttock at HEFCE (, who is happy to confirm that what is being suggested is permissible provided Q800 adequately describes the subject area within which the provision fits.