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UK Higher Education System in a Nut Shell

At an Undergraduate level, students can study for 3 or 4 years to obtain their Bachelors degree. The four year course is usually supplemented by an up to one year work placement, the so called sandwich course, which forms an integral part of the education process and counts towards the overall GPA. At the end of the Undergraduate education, students can obtain one of the following degrees:

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BA – Bachelor of Arts
BSc – Bachelor of Science
BEng – Bachelor of Engineering
LLB – Bachelor of Law

The so called Honours degree usually means that students had to submit a major project at the end of their studies. If they did not do that, they are usually awarded an Ordinary degree.

Differences between the UK and the US Undergraduate education:

In the UK, students need to decide what specific area they want to study before even applying to a University. There are no general studies at an undergraduate level. An equivalent of that would be the so called Foundation or Access courses – they give general knowledge that should prepare a candidate for their further studies in either humanities, science, arts and other areas. The UK universities treat Foundation and Access courses as a bridge in qualifications. In the UK, students study for 13 years before they can apply to a university, whereas in many other countries this period is shorter, and in the US is 12 years. That is why many US High School students will find that UK universities consider their qualifications to be insufficient for a direct entry onto an undergraduate course. However, students who have attended and taken AP classes and tests may find that they are eligible for direct entry, as the AP courses involve a more in-depth study and can be considered equivalent to the British A-levels.

Postgraduate level, students study on average for one year to obtain their Masters qualification. At the end of the course of their studies, they need to conduct research and submit a dissertation. The following qualifications are available:

MA – Master of Arts
MSc- Master of Science
MEng – Master of Engineering
LLM – Master of Law
MRes – Master of Research is a stand alone qualification but usually forms part of the PhD and gives students an excellent preparation to conduct their doctoral research.

MPhil – Master of Philosophy is a stand alone qualification, but usually leads to a PhD.

Students with a Bachelors degrees of a required GPA are usually eligible for direct entry onto a Postgraduate programme. Those, whose GPA is below the required entry, will usually have an option to top it up by taking part in a pre-Masters course.

PhD – Doctor of Philosophy is a Doctoral qualification awarded after a minimum of 3 years of study, which would finish with a doctoral thesis. The PhD thesis is a unique contribution to a particular area of science.

MBA – Master of Business Administration is a professional qualification that can be obtained after a minimum of 1 year study. The UK universities usually offer an AMBA (Association of MBAs) accredited course, which requires a minimum of 3 years of full time, postgraduate experience. Only candidates that fulfill this requirement are considered eligible for entry. Additionally, some universities require a GMAT and an interview as part of the application process.

For more information whether your qualification is suitable for a Postgraduate study in the UK, please email us at Popabroad.


      Bath Spa University      
Roehampton University
      Brunel Unversity        
      University of Glamorgan                  

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