Study in the UK

This Article is a part of:

Studying at University

This article explains studying in the UK for a degree or higher degrees.

If you are a British Citizen wanting to study in another country you can find information about studying abroad on our study abroad pages.


An overview of University Studies in the United Kingdom.


What is university and where to study


                Up to Degree Level

                Qualifications after the First Degree

Adult entry

Degree Apprenticeships


Cost of study

How to choose what to study

Employment prospects (LMI)

Resources for teachers and practitioners

What is university

University is a place to study for higher level qualifications. Some universities have been established for hundreds of years. Others have been granted University status in recent years.

Many Colleges of Further Education also offer a range of higher-level courses including degrees. A college may offer fewer higher level courses but have the advantage of being located to meet the needs of the local community. The degree from a college is of equal value to a degree from a traditional university.

Where to study

Universities and colleges can be grouped into City/Town or Campus/Countryside. Some prospective students will be influenced by the reputation of the university.

The choice of where to live and study is important and a person’s personality should be taken into account. Another factor is where is the living accommodation situated. Is it far away from the main subject teaching room? The social life of a university can be very important to some students and so this should be investigated. Ideally, the prospective student should visit the institution and surrounding area. As it can be difficult for an overseas prospective student to visit many universities in the UK most universities and student unions have created videos you can view online to narrow down your choice.

You may know the names of some major cities but need to know how how close a university is to a city you know. See this interactive UK University Map

What courses (subjects) are available

There are over 50,000 different courses at 395 institutions covering a wide range of topics.

The main website for UK applications to university is

We can group most subjects into similar groups. We call these subject families.

For choosing a course ucas have a very good guide to help you understand the range of courses on offer.


For a full description of the qualification levels

The qualifications which are often available at university or college include:

Degree / Foundation Degree / Higher National Diploma (HND) (level 5)

A Foundation Degree  (FD) or a Higher National Diploma (HNDs) is a level 5 which are usually two years at university or college. A HND course is often a technical course and will frequently build upon skills already gained through study or work.

After the course you can go straight into a career, or take further study to achieve a full Bachelor’s degree. Often it will only take 1 extra year of study to achieve the full bachelor’s degree. Part time courses will take longer.

Entry requirements? You’ll usually need a Level 3 qualification to get started on these types of courses – although specific entry requirements may vary. The level 3 qualifications can be gained through a range of qualifications achieved at school, college or at work.  Adults see the Adults Section for more information about entry requirements.

Bachelor Degree Level 6

A Bachelor’s degree is also known as a undergraduate degree.  This can be studied straight after finishing further education at college or school sixth form.

Duration of a degree? A Bachelor’s degree will usually last three to four years if studied full-time. It’s classed as a level 6 qualification.


What qualifications will I get?  Different subject areas can have different titles such Bachelor of Arts (BA), Science (BSc), Law (LLB), and Engineering (BEng).

To understand more about qualifications look at the Qualifications Framework – click on the image for a full size version.

Qualifications framework
Click on the Qualifications Framework image for a full size version

More information on the Accredited Qualifications website.

Qualifications higher than degrees

For qualifications above Degrees click here for information from UCAS.

Do I need a postgraduate degree?

More people are making the decision to study for a Master’s Degree as they believe it will help them to stand out from all the other people with the same degree and similar experience. It can help your job prospects but if you get a good job offer at the end of your degree it may not make much difference. Only you can decide if it will be worth spending another year studying instead of going straight into employment. For qualifications above Degrees click here for information from UCAS.

 Master’s degree

A Master’s degree is a type of postgraduate qualification involves a more in-depth level of study than a Bachelor degree. A Master’s Degree can be taught or a research-based courses. It’s classed as a level 7 qualification. Your Master’s degree subject can be different than your Bachelor Degree Subject. Some Bachelor’s Courses have added the Master’s Degree to their course structure.

The duration of a Master’s degrees is usually around one to two years.

Entry requirements for a Masters Degree

You’ll usually need a minimum of a 2:1 at undergraduate level to be accepted onto a Master’s course, although those with a 2:2 may be accepted with relevant professional experience.


Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MSc) are the most popular options – a Master’s degree can be achieved in most subjects.


A PhD is the highest level of degree (level 8).  You are a Doctor of Philosophy and you have the right to be addressed as Doctor (Dr). It involves independent and original research into a specific field or subject.

Full-time PhDs will usually take three to four years to complete.

Entry requirements? Most universities will require you to have a Master’s degree. Check with the university if you only have a Bachelor Degree as they can make exceptions.


An adult may want to come and study in the UK to achieve a degree or a postgraduate qualifications.

The UCAS website has all the information you need for an International student applying to study for a post graduate degree in the UK.


Higher and Degree Courses for adults.

There is no age limited preventing adults applying to university. Universities welcome adults as they have often made a positive decision to return to study and their commitment is high. As an adult you may have taken a gap before wanting to study Higher Academic Qualifications such as Foundation or Bachelor degrees. You will not be alone as over 730k people at UK universities are age 25+.

Entry requirements? You’ll usually need a Level 3 qualification to get started on these types of courses – although specific entry requirements may vary. The level 3 qualifications can be gained through a range of qualifications achieved at school, college or at work.  Also check the entry requirements as some courses may allow someone on a course who has extensive experience in that area but does not have the usual formal entry qualifications.

Degree Apprenticeships -a newer way of getting a degree.

This combines the academic course with relevant vocational training. So, this is both university and employer based. You will still achieve a Bachelor Degree but will paid for the work you do while studying. The employer will pay your university fees.

Search for apprenticeships vacancies in England and find more information on the England Website or UCAS.


Costs of university study for British Citizens (living outside the UK)

HM Government student financial advice

England Student Finance

Wales Don’t Let Money Get In The Way Of University  

Northern Ireland Tuition Fees 

Scotland University Costs

Student Finance England Information 


Some ‘international students’ are eligible for ‘home’ status and will be treated the same as all UK citizens.

Check eligibility status for British Citizenship here–Advice/Fees-and-Money/England-fee-status#3:-EU-nationals,-and%C2%A0family


Another source of useful information on student finance is from Martin Lewis on his general information moneysavingexpert website.

International Students – FEES

Students coming to the UK from abroad should check with their home country regarding financial support to study in the United Kingdom.

Each university can set the fees for international students and so fees can vary in each university and for each course.

How to apply to a UK University.

All applications to a UK university are through

Read these guides for a good introduction to the process.

Decision Making – what to study

For a degree in medicine, law or journalism it makes sense to choose a relevant degree. Indeed, for some careers the degree is the route into the career such as medicine, dentistry, engineering etc.

If you know you want to study for a degree, but you are undecided what you want to study then these principles may help.

Ask yourself:

  • Which subjects do I enjoy studying?
  • Are there any subjects I’m particularly good at?
  • Are the subjects I’m interested in ones I’ve studied before?
  • What do I see myself doing after university? Would my choice of degree affect this?

Many graduate jobs do not require a specific degree and you gain transferable skills and knowledge whatever you study. If you do require specific qualifications you can often take a Masters Degree to enable you to go into that vocational job area.

The majority of graduates can gain employment in a business environment as their ability to research, analyse, draw conclusions and problem solve are essential skills in a modern day company.

There are lots of websites to help you choose a degree and university. The main site is Here is another


What Can I do with …(subject? )…… degree?

If you want to know what career you could have with a specific degree look on these two websites.

From (prospects img)

From Kent University (kent img)

Employment prospects (Labour Market Information)

LMI is vital for prospective students to do before choosing a degree course. It makes sense to investigate employment prospects for the degree they are considering. While many jobs will accept any degree discipline some students are keen to enter a particular vocation following their degree. One example is a graphic design graduate who is only prepared to look for graphic design jobs even after a period of unsuccessful applications.

You can find relevant LMI information on the following websites.

Office for National Statistics report Graduates in the UK Labour Market 2017 (latest report)

More information for teachers & careers guidance professionals. Teachers’ Guide to University

UCAS Toolkit for advisers (ucas img)


You can access much more information about study in a different country on the website

There is a small fee for access to this service.

The information on Venture-uk includes:

  • Country guides including UK, Europe, USA and many more.
  • Living costs by country.
  • Study costs by country.
  • Cultural guide to living in …..
  • Gap year advice.

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