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Undergraduate (Bachelors)

Get started in your academic career with a UK undergraduate degree. The flexibility of UK courses and the variety of options available allows you to pick your courses and shape your studies to make sure the programme you choose suits you.


A bachelor’s degree is a common first degree. It gives you a thorough understanding of a subject. Bachelor’s degrees usually have a set programme of academic study, while some also incorporate practical elements and placements.

There are different types of degrees, such as Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Education (BEd) and Bachelor of Engineering (BEng). If you complete your degree successfully with a grade of at least 50 per cent (referred to as a ‘third’ in the UK), you’ll be awarded with an ‘honours’ degree.

A full-time bachelor’s degree normally takes three years to complete. Part-time options are also available at many universities so that you can work alongside your studies or learn at a more relaxed pace. If you need a visa to study in the UK, you should check if your immigration status allows you to do a part-time course.

It’s worth knowing that many Scottish universities offer an undergraduate degree in humanities or social sciences called a Scottish Masters of Arts (MA). It is completed over three years for a general degree or four years for an Honours degree. This shouldn’t be confused with a postgraduate master’s course, which is usually completed over one or two years.

Short Courses

Shorter courses are often equivalent to the early years of a full three- or four-year undergraduate degree. They can stand alone as qualifications, or you can take on as many as required to earn a full honours degree. Options include:

  • Foundation degrees

A foundation degree is equivalent to the first two years of an honours degree. It usually involves the academic study and work-based learning with an employer.

  • Diplomas of Higher Education

Diplomas of Higher Education or ‘DipHE’ courses can be academic but are mainly linked to a particular job, vocation or profession such as nursing or social work. They are normally equivalent to the first two years of a degree.

  • Higher National Diplomas (HND)

A Higher National Diploma usually has vocational or professional elements. It is equivalent to the first two years of a university course.

  • Certificates of Higher Education (CertHE)

Certificate of Higher Education courses focuses on either a particular job or profession or academic study. A CertHE is equivalent to the first year of a full honours degree. At the end of a course, you can choose to keep studying towards a foundation degree, DipHE or full honours degree. It can also help you to change careers or to progress in your current career.

Undergraduate Foundation Courses

Most undergraduate courses in the UK last for three or four years. However, there are many shorter, accelerated undergraduate courses that take just one or two years to complete.

UK universities might use these terms to describe the different levels of higher education:

  • Level 4 or Certificate (C) – one year of undergraduate study
  • Level 5 or Intermediate (I) – two years of study
  • Level 6 or Honours (H) – three or four years of study.

You will only be a Level 6 or Honours Level graduate if you do a full three- or four-year course – this is typically a bachelor’s degree (BA or BSc) programme.

You might choose to opt for a shorter undergraduate course to gain your qualification even faster. In addition, you might see it as a way to get even better value for money as you’ll receive the same qualification with a year less of living costs.

Undergraduate Modules

Most higher education courses have a ‘modular’ structure. This means that you can build a personalised course by choosing modules or units of study from different subject areas. For example, if you are studying English literature, for your first year you could choose one module on science fiction, one module on children’s literature, and one module on short stories.

If you are interested in more than one subject, you may be able to study a combination as part of your course, e.g. English literature and psychology. You can often decide for yourself how much time you would like to spend on each subject. ‘Joint’ means the two subjects are studied equally, ‘major/minor’ means the time spent is usually about 75 per cent to 25 per cent.

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