Joint Academic Coding System

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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.

A JACS code for a single subject consists of a letter and three numbers. The letter represents the broad subject classification and subsequent numbers represent further details, similar to the Dewey Decimal System. For example, F represents the Physical Sciences, F300 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).

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 version 2 was introduced for the academic year 2007/08. JACS3 was introduced for the 2012/13 year.


Letters are assigned to the subject groups as follows. Note that in the proposed version 3 of JACS, Computer Sciences are split from Mathematics and assigned code letter I.

Letter Subject Group Major subgroups
A Medicine and Dentistry A100 Pre-clinical Medicine, A200 Pre-clinical Dentistry, A300 Clinical Medicine, A400 Clinical Dentistry
B Subjects allied to Medicine B100 Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology, B200 Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmacy, B300 Complementary Medicine, B400 Nutrition, B500 Ophthalmics, B600 Aural and Oral Sciences, B700 Nursing, B800 Medical Technology
C Biological Sciences C100 Biology, C200 Botany, C300 Zoology, C400 Genetics, C500 Microbiology, C600 Sports Science, C800 Psychology
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects D100 Pre-clinical Veterinary Medicine, D400 Agriculture, D500 Forestry, D600 Food and Beverage Studies
F Physical Sciences F100 Chemistry, F200 Materials Science, F300 Physics, F400 Forensics and Archaeology, F600 Geology, F700 Ocean Sciences, F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences, F840 Physical Geography
G Mathematical Sciences G100 Mathematics, G300 Statistics
H Engineering H200 Civil, H300 Mechanical, H400 Aerospace, H500 Naval Architecture, H700 Production and Manufacturing, H800 Chemical
I Computer Sciences I100 Computer Science, I300 Software Engineering, I400 Artificial Intelligence
J Technologies J200 Metallurgy, J300 Ceramics and Glasses, J400 Polymers and Textiles, J500 Materials Technology
K Architecture, Building and Planning K100 Architecture, K200 Building, K400 Planning
L Social studies L100 Economics, L200 Politics, L300 Sociology, L400 Social Policy, L500 Social Work, L600 Anthropology, L700 Human and Social Geography
M Law M100 Law by geographical area, M200 Law by topic
N Business and Administrative studies N100 Business Studies, N200 Management, N300 Finance, N400 Accounting, N500 Marketing
P Mass Communications and Documentation P300 Media Studies, P500 Journalism
Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects Q100 Linguistics, Q500 Celtic Studies
R European Languages, Literature and related subjects R100 French Studies, R200 German Studies, R300 Italian Studies, R400 Hispanic Studies, R600 Scandinavian Studies, R700 Russian Studies
T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects T100 Chinese Studies, T500 African Studies
V Historical and Philosophical studies V100 History by period, V200 History by area, V350 History of Art, V400 Archaeology, V500 Philosophy, V600 Theology and Religious Studies
W Creative Arts and Design W100 Fine Art, W200 Design, W300 Music, W400 Drama, W500 Dance, W600 Cinematics and Photography, W700 Crafts, W800 Creative Writing
X Education X100 Training Teachers
Y Combined studies
Z Not used Not used

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]

UCAS creates course codes based on the JACS codes of the course subject. In many cases the UCAS course code will be the same as the JACS subject code and this can lead to confusion between the two concepts.

Where a course involves more than one subject the UCAS course code is 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 simplest (highest level) codes which would be used for the two subjects if studied as individual degrees.


Consider the BSc course Mathematics and Physics:

  • The simplest code for Mathematics is G100, and the simplest code for Physics is F300.
  • The combined code uses G1 for Mathematics, and F3 for Physics.
  • The combined code is GF13 because the letters always precede the numbers.

Another example is Music and Philosophy. The codes are W300 (Music) and V500 (Philosophy). The combined code is VW53 (also represents "Philosophy and Music"). Although it could theoretically be WV53, the letters are placed in alphabetical order by convention, and the numbers are placed in the same order following the subjects.

The same letter can be used twice (if the two subjects are within the same general subject area), such as GG41 for Computer Science and Mathematics.

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:

  • Y100 is the "major" subject which represents most of the degree course
  • Z900 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 is important.

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