Is there a word to describe the case when a student can only receive credit for one of a group of courses because they are versions of a single course?

For example, "Accelerated Elementary Statistics" and "Elementary Statistics" - these have different course numbers but I would only want a student to be able to take one of these courses for credit.

Context: I'm designing course scheduling software and want to be able to describe/refer to this situation concisely to inform students and communicate with administrators who are designing course catalogues and requirements.

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    At first, I thought all the answers were missing the point, then I realized there is an ambiguity. I was interpreting it as a particular course offering credit but the others not. – WGroleau Mar 11 '18 at 21:10
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    Incidentally, hopefully your software can somehow help students avoid the catch-22 that got me as an undergrad. I took a half-credit intro to linguistics as an elective, then fell in love with it and switched majors. But this course did not qualify as a prerequisite for any higher courses, yet was an exclusion with the full-credit course that did, meaning I'd paradoxically already earned the credit. So it was a dead end that prevented all further progress in the subject. Much discussion with the department before they made an exception. Not much later they abolished that course. /anecdote – Luke Sawczak Mar 12 '18 at 13:05
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    @LukeSawczak The issue for you seems to be how the university dealt with exceptional cases. I wouldn't expect the software to fix that itself, but you're right that it needs to allow overwriting in unusual cases. – Jessica B Mar 12 '18 at 13:44
  • @JessicaB True - or, perhaps, a note of caution like "This course will make it impossible to qualify for the following courses..." – Luke Sawczak Mar 12 '18 at 13:52
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    @LukeSawczak, it will result in most student see 100s of messages that are of no interest of them........ – Ian Mar 12 '18 at 22:13

A couple of universities that I've worked and/or studied that described the courses as having equivalent content. So, the prerequisites for an upper-level course might be listed as "MATH 344 or equivalent content."

The reverse descriptor also came up sometimes. For example, the degree requirements for a given major might include: "Four additional courses at the 500 level, of essentially different content." Another school used inequivalent content for the same thing.

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    My school uses language roughly like this -- "MATH-123 or equivalent". It means that you can take MATH-123, or any course that teaches the same things, which is generally decided on a case-by-case basis by the professor of the class. – Fund Monica's Lawsuit Mar 12 '18 at 5:39
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    Some schools have formalized this with classes that have the same base number but use different pedagogies, use different schedules (e.g. 6 week, 12 week, self-paced), or are delivered in different media (e.g. main campus, online, correspondence). You could thus have MATH 344SO to mean MATH 344 delivered in a Short, Online format. – Robert Columbia Mar 12 '18 at 13:55

I think anti-requisites might be a good choice, since it would fit with other necessary concepts in the context (pre-requisites and co-requisites). Moreover, it seems to me to have a reasonably intuitive meaning even if it isn't the word you normally use (in this context it is very important that words are not misinterpreted).

A quick search suggests it is used by at least some universities, e.g. Western University:

Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in course content that both cannot be taken for credit.

  • I like how this terminology more readily applies to "Survey of X for Non-majors" vs. "Advanced X" in which cases "equivalent" is a bit confusing. – Nat Mar 12 '18 at 10:28

My university has a concept of some courses being "incompatible" with other courses. See for instance: this course listing.


Usually such choices are referred to as pools. Similar courses are put in the same pool and you specify that only one course can be taken from each pool.

Alternatively, it can happen that courses in the same pool do not carry the same number of credits. In your example "Accelerated Elementary Statistics" could have more credits than normal "Elementary Statistics". In this case you specify the maximum amounts of credits allowed from a single pool. This would allow students to take, for example, either one difficult course or two easier courses, but no more.

This can also work the other way around, to specify some mandatory courses, without being too precise. In the universities that I've been to this is referred to as "core courses pool" and each student has to have a minimum of X credits from this pool. Again, they can choose how to assemble the choices to meet this requirement.

  • Your description sounds like you are talking about a slightly different concept. – Jessica B Mar 11 '18 at 18:49

At the University of Toronto these are often called "exclusions" (see that heading here).

  • I've never seen that used in noun form, but I guess that would be closest to what my university is doing too: "this course is mutually exclusive with..." is the stock phrase. – nengel Mar 12 '18 at 5:32

Of the universities I am familiar with, the term restrictions is used for classes that used different codes and potentially taught some different material, but were considered similar enough in content that one was equivalent in some sense to the other.

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    Along these lines, while I don't have any standard term for these courses, my first choice would be 'excluded combinations'. – Jessica B Mar 11 '18 at 18:50

At my university, a choice of say 3 out of 5 lectures is called a module, if they have some topic in common. Single lectures were only referred to as equivalents, but I can imagine that both fit for 1 out of several, too.

  • Whereas at the universities I've been at a 'module' is a lecture course. This might be the term you use, but it would be awful in the context. – Jessica B Mar 12 '18 at 6:54
  • @JessicaB Sure, if a term is used otherwise within the same context, it does not work. equivalents may also refer to lecture crediting, so even this term was sort of unfortunate at my university. – rexkogitans Mar 12 '18 at 8:23

I might refer to those courses in some situations as Cross-Listed.


I've seen these called preclusions at my university.


verb (used with object), precluded, precluding.

  1. to prevent the presence, existence, or occurrence of; make impossible: The insufficiency of the evidence precludes a conviction.

  2. to exclude or debar from something: His physical disability precludes an athletic career for him.

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