What is an Undergraduate Qualification?

An undergraduate qualification in the UK is an academic step up from A-levels (or their equivalents) and is typically gained by completing a programme of study at university. There are three broad types of course:

  • those that lead to a degree;
  • intermediate qualifications in the form of certificates or diplomas; and
  • those that combine academic study with workplace learning.

The variety of undergraduate courses and subjects on offer mean it is important to fully research which option suits you best.

Your choice of subject will determine the precise name of the qualification. Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BSc) are the most common, but there are others such as Bachelor of Education (BEd) and Bachelor of Laws (LLB).

Your course will usually last three or four years, although some subjects such as medicine will take longer.

An HND is equivalent to the second year of a Bachelors degree. It takes two years to study full-time or three years part-time. They differ from degrees in that they focus on vocational skills needed for specific areas of work.

These courses are typically provided by further education colleges and to gain entry you’ll need one or two A-levels. They are mostly classroom taught, but assessment is by projects, assignments and practical tasks rather than exams. You’ll also undertake work placements.

A DipHE is the academic counterpart to the HND, as it is also equivalent to two years of a full degree. It is usually awarded following the successful completion of two years of a full-time first degree at a higher education institution.

While many students choose to stay on for the full degree, as long as the DipHE is available for your chosen subject, you should be able to leave after two years with this recognised stand-alone qualification.

An NVQ at Levels 4-6 is equivalent to a degree. However, these qualifications focus more on practical skills than academic study, taking place within the context of your current full or part-time work.

As NVQs are work-based, instead of taking exams you are assessed by demonstrating your ability to do a job over a period of time. You will be observed by an assessor and submit a portfolio, and your performance in each unit will be measured against national occupational standards.

Undergraduate Degrees

For your first degree, most students undertake a three-year bachelor’s, featuring a combination of seminars, workshops and lectures made up of different modules. Certain modules are optional, and as such you can tailor study to what you are most interested in. Science and engineering degrees usually take four years and include a research project or dissertation. There has also been the introduction of 2-year degree courses in some UK universities.

Joint degrees are another option – splitting your time across two different courses – while most universities also offer sandwich degrees whereby a year is taken out so a placement can be undertaken in industry. Upon graduation, you’ll have the option of either finding full-time employment and beginning your career, or moving into postgraduate study.


Different Kinds of Bachelor’s Degrees

There are various different types of Bachelor’s degrees out there. But what do abbreviations such as B.Sc. or B.A. mean? This article gives an overview.

The Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.) is one kind of Bachelor degrees and usually the first academic degree that is achieved at a university or other higher education institutions. The study duration of a Bachelor’s programme is usually three to four years.

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) is the most comman among Bachelor degrees and usually the first academic degree that is achieved at a university or other higher education institutions. It is mainly awarded to, but not limited to students following a programme in the liberal arts.

The Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) is one kind of Bachelor degrees and usually the first academic degree that is achieved at a university in the area of law sciences. The abbreviation LL.B. stands for Legum Baccalaureus where LL. is the latin abbreviation for laws. A consecutive Master’s programme in the law sciences is awarded with a Master of Laws (LL. M.) accordingly.

The Bachelor of Engineering (B. Eng. or BE) is one kind of Bachelor degrees and usually the first academic degree that is achieved for a studies in one of the engineering sciences.

Short Undergraduate Degree Options

Shorter courses are also available.

  • Certificate of Higher Education – This can be achieved following one year of full-time study, or two years of part-time study
  • Diploma of Higher Education – A 2-year full-time degree

Completion of the above courses is not enough to secure a place in postgraduate study, but students do have the option of moving into the second or third year of a full degree if they wish to graduate.

Average Cost a Year


English / TOFEL / GRE Requirements

Details of all the English language qualifications, and minimum scores, that are accepted for undergraduate study are provided below. Please note that, in assessing whether you have sufficient English language to successfully complete your course,  universities also consider these qualifications alongside other evidence of English language ability included in your application, for example a degree completed in english or the personal statement.

  • International English Language Testing Service (IELTS)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
  • Overall score of 5.5 or above, with at least 5.5 in each
  • 80 or higher on the TOEFL iBT or 550 or higher on the paper-based exam
  • 153 on GRE quantitative section AND at least 140 on GRE verbal reasoning

If you need to improve your English ahead of studying abroad, take an IELTS preparation course. For full list of UKVI approved english language tests in your country please click here.

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