Types of Higher Education Degrees in UK

Higher Education in UK begins at the age of 18. International students can enrol directly into the UK higher education system, after completing their home country’s equivalent to the UK’s ‘further education’. For students without A-level exam have to take additional 1-year program to get in the UK University and the course, especially international students.

Undergraduate Level

The main qualifications offered at the Undergraduate level are:

Foundation Degree

The foundation degree can be studied full- or part-time, and consists of academic as well as work-based study. It may be studied as a standalone qualification or upon completion you may move on to the final year of an honours degree.
  • Duration: 1 year

Diploma of Higher Education

The Diploma (DipHE) is an academic study associated with a particular profession such as nursing or social work. This qualification generally takes 2 years to complete.
  • Duration: 1-2 years

Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE)

Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) focuses on either a particular job or profession, or academic study. Tantamount to the first year of a full honours degree, Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) is a primary level of qualification that can be acquired in higher education. It demonstrates your potential and capabilities of studying successfully at university level. The Certificate of Higher Education can be used to achieve a foundation degree, Diploma or full honours degree through an additional study.
  • Duration: 1-2 years

Higher National Diploma (HND)

Higher National Diploma is a two-year course which, if completed with high grades, can lead to the third year of a degree.
  • Duration: 1-2 years

Bachelors or Undergraduate Degree

A Bachelor degree is an academic study designed to help you acquire a thorough understanding of a subject. There are different titles of degree, such as: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Education (BEd) and Bachelor of Engineering (BEng). Undergraduate Degree can be with or without Honours. The Honours bachelor degree is about four-year with a year of practical training in the Industry. 
  • Duration: 3 years (four in some cases)

Postgraduate Level

The main qualifications offered at the postgraduate level are:

Master's Degree

A master’s degree is an academic qualification awarded to individuals who demonstrate a higher level of expertise in a particular field of study. This qualification provides an opportunity to advance the knowledge of a particular area of study. There are two main types of master’s: taught and research.

Taught Masters Degrees

Taught Masters usually involve six months of a series of lectures and exams followed by six months of project work which ends with a thesis. 
  • Duration: 1 year (Sometimes 2 years)

Masters Degrees by Research (M. Phil) 

Master degree by Research is generally of one year, or sometimes more. Research postgraduate programs involve a comprehensive and thorough study of a specific field of two or three years. At the end of the program, you need to submit a thesis or dissertation in writing form.
  • Duration: 2-3 years
Types of Masters Degrees are as follows:
  • M Sc (Master of Science)
  • MA (Master of Arts)
  • M Ed (Master of Education)
  • LLM (Master of Law)
  • MBA (Master of Business Administration)

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is an internationally recognised qualification which gives the skills needed for a successful management career and is generally about two years. MBA courses cover subjects such as business management, operational and strategic management, marketing, finance, IT, human resource management, entrepreneurship and international trade.


A PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) or doctorate is the highest academic level a student can accomplish. These degrees are very exacting and often lead to careers in academia. A doctorate course is for students who achieve at least a 2:1 result at undergraduate level. In PhD, some courses are taught while others call for research. Taught courses usually involve presentations, written coursework, exams and thesis. Classroom sessions are highly interactive, requiring student involvement.
  • Duration: 3 years

Postgraduate Diplomas and Certificates

Postgraduate certificates and diplomas allow students to study something fresh or build on the skills and knowledge already acquired during their first degree.

Professional or Vocational Qualifications

A professional/vocational qualification is normally taken to enhance skills or acquire attributes required by specific jobs. This qualification is practical-oriented thereby giving a first-hand job experience. 

Conversion Courses

 A conversion course is a vocational postgraduate qualification taken by graduates who desire to change their subject area after their first degree.

Entrance Requirements

Each level of education in the UK has diverse prerequisites. An applicant needs to fulfil those set requirements in order to gain entry into the next level of studies. International students need to have a minimal score on TOEFL/IELTS in order to obtain entry into universities and colleges of the UK. For more details see Standardized Test
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