A school and college guide to the different types of university courses
Understanding different options for university
study can be challenging for your students.
The language used can also be difficult to
understand when they are unfamiliar with
it. We have therefore created a guide to the
different types of courses that are available.
What is a Foundation degree?
The first level of study at university is a
foundation degree, intended to help bridge the
gap between school or college and university.
They are typically one year and offer direct
entry on the relevant bachelor’s degree.
What does the term undergraduate mean?
A bachelor’s degree is the most common type
of undergraduate degree. These include BA
(Hons), BSc (Hons), BEng (Hons) and LLB
(Hons). In these courses ‘Hons’ stands for
honours, which usually means students study
for three years, or sometimes four if they have
a sandwich year or year abroad.
What is a BSc and BA degree?
This is a Bachelor of Science and they are
typically science-based degree subjects, like
Chemistry, Biology and Physics, but often
subjects like Psychology, Maths and Computer
Science too. This type of degree will often have
a strong focus on analytical and statistical
This is a Bachelor of Arts, they are often less
specialised and focus more on qualitative
thinking, creativity, theory and critical thinking.
Typically, this includes subjects such as
English, History, Politics and Sociology.
Some subjects offer both a BSc and a BA, for
example, Anthropology and Sport, depending
on whether it’s more scientific or theory based.
What is an Integrated Master’s - and how is that different?
An integrated master’s usually takes four
years. Integrated master’s qualifications
include MSc, MEng (Engineering) and MChem
(Chemistry). A master’s degree enables
students to become a subject specialist and
move directly onto further study or a particular
Introducing the key postgraduate qualifications students may later pursue
Once students have completed an
undergraduate degree, there are then many
options to progress on to postgraduate study.
This is the next level up from a bachelor’s
degree. Students follow the same sort of title
as outlined above, MA, MSc, MEng, and take
between one and two years. This can also lead
to PhD level study.
Master of Business. This is an internationally
recognised business degree and usually takes
two years to complete.
This is the qualification that is usually required
to become a teacher and takes one year to
complete, or two part-time. Students will need
a degree in the relevant qualification for this.
Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) and
Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert)
This is also an option following a bachelor’s
degree. They can often fit around a job and are
at the same level as a masters.
A PhD usually comes after a master’s and
typically takes four to six years to complete.
It is a research based qualification requiring
students to write a thesis, based on their