Programmes taken at undergraduate level are available in a variety of subjects, with most leading to a degree. However, there are some which result in qualifications below degree level.
Typically, an undergraduate qualification is from a university and reflects higher learning than GCE A-level (or its equivalent). There are three broad types of undergraduate course:
Most undergraduate degree courses lead to honours degrees in three years. In modern foreign languages, an extra year is usually spent overseas. In subjects such as medicine and architecture, courses may take even longer.
Most honours degrees are called Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc). Some subjects differ, for example, Bachelor of Education (BEd), the LLB in Law and BEng in Engineering. In Scotland it normally takes four years to achieve an honours degree and you will find that some honours degree titles are MA (Master of Arts) as well as Bachelors.
A Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) may be awarded after one year of undergraduate study and a Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE) may be awarded after two. These are sometimes referred to as intermediate-level qualifications.
Some undergraduate courses lead to intermediate qualifications; these include foundation degrees (FD) and Higher National Diplomas (HND). These are achievable following two years, full-time study (or part-time equivalent) and are almost always in work-related subjects. It is possible to ‘top up’ to an honours degree from a foundation degree or a Higher National Diploma by doing further study. For more information on what your intermediate qulification can lead to, see your foundation degree, what next? and your HND, what next?
Most undergraduate courses are taught with classes and tutorials to attend, and some undergraduate courses combine traditionally taught elements with distance learning; referred to as ‘blended learning’.
Undergraduate qualifications allow you to develop your skills and knowledge in specific academic or work-related areas. You are able to direct your own learning to develop your analytical and writing skills as well as subject knowledge. Some courses offer valuable hands-on experience that is needed to continue into certain industries.
Assessment is through written assignments and exams, with practical tasks, design work, experiments, research and performance possibly being required too. Information on how you will be assessed and graded should be researched before applying for an undergraduate course.
Qualifications gained through undergraduate study are highly regarded by employers and they are normally compulsory if you want to continue into postgraduate higher education.
Most full-time undergraduate degree courses are applied for via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) . Entry requirements are varied so you should research this very carefully before applying.
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