Joint Academic Coding System

The Joint Academic Coding System (JACS) system is used by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) in the United Kingdom to classify academic subjects. It is due to be replaced by the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) and the Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH) for the 2019/20 academic year.[1]

A JACS code for a single subject consists of a letter and three numbers. The letter represents the broad subject classification, e.g. F for physical sciences. The first number represents the principal subject area, e.g. F3 for physics, and subsequent numbers represent further details, similar to the Dewey Decimal System. The principal subject of physics, for example, is broken into 19 detailed subjects, represented by a letter plus three numbers: e.g., F300 represents physics, F330 environmental physics and F331 atmospheric physics.


HESA and UCAS used to operate two different (though similar) subject coding systems - HESAcode and Standard Classification of Academic Subjects (SCAS) respectively. In 1996 a joint project was launched to bring these two system together to create a unified structure. A project team was established with two people from each of the two organisations. The project team became known as JACS since this was an acronym of their names (Jonathan Waller and Andy Youell from HESA, Clive Sillence and Sara Goodwins from UCAS).[1]

The first operational version (v1.7) of the Joint Academic Coding System (retaining the JACS acronym) was published in 1999 and became operational in UCAS and HESA systems for the year 2002/03.

An update exercise took place in 2005 and JACS 2 was introduced for the academic year 2007/08. JACS 3 was introduced for the 2012/13 year.


The letter codes assigned to the subject areas and the letter + number codes assigned to the principal subjects in JACS 3 are:[2]

Letter Subject area Principal subjects
A (1) Medicine and dentistry A0 Broadly-based programmes within Medicine and dentistry
A1 Pre-clinical medicine
A2 Pre-clinical dentistry
A3 Clinical medicine
A4 Clinical dentistry
A9 Others in medicine and dentistry
B (2) Subjects allied to medicine B0 Broadly-based programmes within subjects allied to medicine
B1 Anatomy, physiology and pathology
B2 Pharmacology, toxicology and pharmacy
B3 Complementary medicines, therapies and well-being
B4 Nutrition
B5 Ophthalmics
B6 Aural and oral sciences
B7 Nursing
B8 Medical Technology
B9 Others in subjects allied to medicine
C (3) Biological sciences C0 Broadly-based programmes within biological sciences
C1 Biology
C2 Botany
C3 Zoology
C4 Genetics
C5 Microbiology
C6 Sports and exercise science
C7 Molecular biology, biophysics and biochemistry
C8 Psychology
C9 Others in biological sciences
D (4) Veterinary science D1 Pre-clinical veterinary medicine
D2 Clinical veterinary medicine and dentistry
D (5) Agriculture and related subjects D0 Broadly-based programmes within agriculture and related subjects
D3 Animal science
D4 Agriculture
D5 Forestry and arboriculture
D6 Food and beverage studies
D7 Agricultural sciences
D9 Others in veterinary sciences, agriculture and related subjects
F (6) Physical sciences F0 Broadly-based programmes within physical sciences
F1 Chemistry
F2 Materials science
F3 Physics
F4 Forensic and Archaeological sciences
F5 Astronomy
F6 Geology
F7 Science of aquatic and terrestrial environments
F8 Physical geographical sciences
F9 Others in physical sciences
G (7) Mathematical sciences G1 Mathematics
G2 Operational research
G3 Statistics
G9 Others in mathematical sciences
I (8) Computer science I1 Computer science
I2 Information systems
I3 Software engineering
I4 Artificial intelligence
I5 Health informatics
I6 Games
I7 Computer generated visual and audio effects
I9 Others in computer science
H & J (9) Engineering and Technology H0 Broadly-based programmes within engineering and technology
H1 General engineering
H2 Civil engineering
H3 Mechanical engineering
H4 Aerospace engineering
H5 Naval architecture
H6 Electronic and electronic engineering
H7 Production and manufacturing engineering
H8 Chemical, process and energy engineering
J1 Minerals technology
J2 Metallurgy
J3 Ceramics and glass
J4 Polymers and textiles
J5 Materials technology not otherwise specified
J6 Maritime technology
J7 Biotechnology
J9 Others in technology
K (A) Architecture, building and planning K0 Broadly-based programmes within architecture, building and planning
K1 Architecture
K2 Building
K3 Landscape and garden design
K4 Planning (urban, rural and regional)
K9 Others in architecture, building and planning
L (B) Social studies L0 Broadly-based programmes within social studies
L1 Economics
L2 Politics
L3 Sociology
L4 Social policy
L5 Social work
L6 Anthropology
L7 Human and social geography
L8 Development studies
L9 Others in social studies
M (C) Law M0 Broadly-based programmes within law
M1 Law by area
M2 Law by topic
M9 Others in law
N (D) Business and administrative studies N0 Broadly-based programmes within business and administrative studies
N1 Business studies
N2 Management studies
N3 Finance
N4 Accounting
N5 Marketing
N6 Human resource management
N7 Office skills
N8 Hospitality, leisure, sport, tourism and transport
N9 Others in business and administrative studies
P (E) Mass communications and documentation P0 Broadly-based programmes within mass communications and documentation
P1 Information services
P2 Publicity studies
P3 Media studies
P4 Publishing
P5 Journalism
P9 Others in mass communications and documentation
Q, R & T (F) Languages Q0 Broadly-based programmes within languages
Q1 Linguistics
Q2 Comparative literary studies
Q3 English studies
Q4 Ancient language studies
Q5 Celtic studies
Q6 Latin studies
Q7 Classical Greek studies
Q8 Classical studies
Q9 Others in linguistics, classics and related subjects
R1 French studies
R2 German studies
R3 Italian studies
R4 Spanish studies
R5 Portuguese studies
R6 Scandinavian studies
R7 Russian and East European studies
R8 European studies
R9 Others in European languages, literature and related subjects
T1 Chinese studies
T2 Japanese studies
T3 South Asian studies
T4 Other Asian studies
T5 African studies
T6 Modern Middle Eastern studies
T7 American studies
T8 Australasian studies
T9 Others in Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian languages, literature and related subjects
V (G) Historical and philosophical studies V0 Broadly-based programmes within historical & philosophical studies
V1 History by period
V2 History by area
V3 History by topic
V4 Archaeology
V5 Philosophy
V6 Theology and religious studies
V7 Heritage studies
V9 Others in historical and philosophical studies
W (H) Creative arts and design W0 Broadly-based programmes within creative arts and design
W1 Fine art
W2 Design studies
W3 Music
W4 Drama
W5 Dance
W6 Cinematics and photography
W7 Crafts
W8 Imaginative writing
W9 Others in creative arts and design
X (I) Education X0 Broadly-based programmes within education
X1 Training teachers
X2 Research and study skills in education
X3 Academic studies in education
X9 Others in education
Y (J) Combined Y0 Combined

Y codes (combined studies) are only used at the Course level in the HESA database and are not used to describe individual modules.

JACS Codes in the UCAS system[edit]

Course codes in the UCAS system are assigned by course providers and do not necessarily correspond to the JACS codes of the course subject.[3] UCAS course codes are four characters in length but, unlike JACS codes, may consist of any combination of letters and numbers in any order. However, historically UCAS created course codes from the JACS subject code and many institutions continue to do this, which can lead to confusion between the two concepts.[4]

Where a course involves more than one subject, UCAS historically created the course code based on an aggregation of the JACS codes. For courses which are split 50:50 between two subjects, a code with two letters and two numbers is used, which combines the principal subject codes which would be used for the two subjects if studied as individual degrees.[5]


Consider the BSc course Mathematics and Physics:

  • The principal subject code for Mathematics is G1, and the principal subject code for Physics is F3.
  • The combined codes used are GF13[6] and FG31.[7]
  • The codes GFD3, GF1H and GFH1 are also used.[8][9][10]

Another example is Music and Philosophy. The principal subject codes are W3 (Music) and V5 (Philosophy). The combined codes used are WV35[11] or VW35,[12] while WV53,[13] is also used.

The same letter can be used twice (if the two subjects are within the same general subject area), such as FF53 for Astronomy and Physics.[14]

Courses with major/minor subjects[edit]

Coding is done differently for courses such as "Mathematics with Physics", which is not the same as "Mathematics and Physics".

The format for such courses is Y1Z9 where:

  • Y1 is the "major" subject which represents most of the degree course
  • Z9 is the "minor" subject which represents less of the course.

For example, Mathematics with Physics would be represented by G1F3, but Physics with Mathematics would be represented by F3G1. Hence the order in which the two subjects are notated was important historically.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Farewell to JACS, and hello to HECoS". HESA. 27 April 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  2. ^ "JACS 3.0: Principal subject codes". HESA. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Full list of the current variables". UCAS. November 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2017. Please note: the course code is assigned to each course by the host provider and does not necessarily relate to JACS subject codes.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Classifying subject of study: A roadmap to a new Joint Academic Coding System" (PDF). Higher Education Data and Information Improvement Programme. July 2013. p. 29. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Course coding principles". UCAS. Archived from the original on 20 December 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Mathematics and Physics – University of Edinburgh". UCAS. Retrieved 9 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Mathematics and Physics – University of Manchester". UCAS. Retrieved 10 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Mathematics and Physics – University of Bristol". UCAS. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Mathematics and Physics – University of Surrey". UCAS. Retrieved 10 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Mathematics and Physics – University of Surrey (sandwich)". UCAS. Retrieved 10 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Music and Philosophy – University of Nottingham". UCAS. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  12. ^ "Music and Philosophy – University of Sheffield". UCAS. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  13. ^ "Music and Philosophy – Durham University". UCAS. Retrieved 9 May 2017.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Astronomy and Physics – University of Glasgow". UCAS. Retrieved 9 May 2017.