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The Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS)

Subjects are persistent areas or branches of knowledge or learning that are studied in higher education. A new subject coding system - the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) - has been implemented from 2019/20.  

HECoS replaces the Joint Academic Coding System (JACS).

On this page: HECOs vocabulary | Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH)Mapping I ManagementBackground and archive

HECoS vocabulary

Download the HECoS vocabulary to view all subjects and their HECoS codes:

View the HECoS vocabulary

The HECoS vocabulary is (at the current version 9) a single flat (non-hierarchical) list of 1,092 subject terms that ensures the categorisation of courses and modules is always performed at a consistent level.

HECoS subject code identifiers are randomly generated and have no inherent meaning in themselves. Every HECoS code is associated with a subject term, a definition of that term, and where relevant, a scope note explaining the applicability of the code.

Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH)

The CAH is a grouping of subject codes

View a list of CAH groups

The Common Aggregation Hierarchy (CAH) provides a standardised hierarchical aggregation of HECoS codes suitable for the majority of uses. The CAH has been developed to provide standard groupings that can be applied to both HECoS and JACS subjects allowing for consistent analysis across both coding frames.

Read more about the CAH

Mapping documents

We have moved applicable mapping documents to our archive:

View the HECoS archive

LDCS and Price groups

The Office for Students (OfS) has produced mappings of HECoS and the Learn Direct Classification System (LDCS) to Price Groups to inform funding allocations.

Mappings of HECoS and LDCS to Price Groups (OfS)

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

In May 2021 the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) supplied HESA with a code mapping document, which came into effect on 14 May 2021, and which we have agreed to make available on their behalf in response to demand from our users. Whilst HESA works closely with the FCDO, we claim no responsibility for or ownership over the mapping available for download below. Any questions or queries regarding this information should be directed to the FCDO.

HECoS ATAS mapping

You can find further information about ATAS on the gov.uk website or by contacting [email protected]

HECoS and CAH management guide

  • Explains the process for managing the HECoS standard.
  • Delineates the parameters within which the HECoS standard can be adapted over time.
  • Provides guidance to users who seek to update or improve HECoS.

Download the HECoS management guide

HECoS background materials

Work began on the development of a new subject coding system in 2013 led by the former Higher Education Data and Information Improvement Programme (HEDIIP) and in consultation with the HE sector. The project was borne out of a need to replace the JACS system to meet the needs of a broader group of stakeholders and to reflect the diverse and dynamic nature of Higher Education in the twenty-first century, and culminated in July 2016 with the publication of the subject code system now known as HECoS.

View the HECoS archive

Open data

open-data   Open data licence: CC-BY-4.0