What is the difference between an inheritance diagram and a class diagram in UML? For the Computer Science A Level (a British test administrated by Cambridge University, so it's possible that this terminology is Britain-specific), they require knowledge of how to make both separately.

I guessed that the inheritance diagram only has class names in boxes with arrows and the class diagram includes members, but I wanted to make sure.

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    – gnat
    Mar 23, 2015 at 20:59
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    @gnat Sorry about that... there we go Mar 23, 2015 at 21:00
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    Everything I see on Google says that Inheritance is a specific property of a Class Diagram. As such there is no such thing as an "Inheritance Diagram." Do you have an example you can show? Mar 23, 2015 at 21:20

1 Answer 1


According to Wikipedia and also according to the UML reference , UML does not contain a diagram type called "inheritance diagram". That does not mean some tool vendors invented their own definition of what an inheritance diagram should be (like this one). When using UML means, to display just an inheritance tree, IMHO the most obvious solution would be to use a class diagram with only class names and inheritance relationships, as you wrote above. So call this an inheritance diagram, if you like, but be aware that there is no standard saying that this is the "correct" definition.

In fact, when you are asked for this term as part of a "Computer Science A Level" test, you should check the material from the university what they call an inheritance diagram.

  • Thanks! They give no definition for an inheritance diagram, only that I should know how to do it. Mar 23, 2015 at 23:01
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    @BalinKingOfMoria I guess it's better to cooperate with "They" and when in doubt you should ask your University mentor or discuss it with your classmates, rather then try to probe opinion of some anonymous gurus accross the globe
    – xmojmr
    Mar 24, 2015 at 7:40
  • The problem is that they've never given the test before... I'm in the US and the test is for high school students all around the world... and "They" give no definition for anything. I don't have a University mentor since 1) I'm not at Cambridge and 2) no one else in my high school has a clue.... Mar 24, 2015 at 14:44
  • When I sketch inheritance relationships on a whiteboard, this is exactly the method I use.
    – user22815
    Mar 26, 2015 at 16:27

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