A school and college
guide to the different types of university
There are over 35,000 courses available for your
students to consider when making their university
choices. It’s not just the course name and content
that students must get their head around; they’ll
also need to understand the different types of
courses, the length of a course and what each
choice would mean for them as well.
For example, two courses may have the same title,
but students can choose a BA (Hons) or a BSc
We’ve broken down some of the typical types of
undergraduate degrees to help you articulate the
different attributes to your students.
We use levels to help explain the different
degree stages. A-levels, BTEC’s and other
similar qualifications are usually level 3. Most
undergraduate degrees are known as Bachelor’s
Degrees and usually end at level 6 (1st year
level 4, 2nd year level 5, 3rd year level 6). Other
degrees may end at different levels. For example,
a Foundation Degree ends at level 5 unless the
student does a Top-Up to level 6.
The standard degree classifications are ‘BA’ and
‘BSc’. All Bachelor’s degrees are equal in value;
the abbreviations just refer to the type of subject.
Honours (Hons) refers to the higher standard of
study within a degree; a student can graduate
without honours if they don’t meet the academic
BA – Bachelor of Arts – usually arts or humanities
BSc – Bachelor of Sciences – usually more
science or maths focused
BEng – Bachelor of Engineering – a course
focused on Engineering, that can be the beginning
of the journey towards becoming a chartered
BMus – Bachelor of Music – The majority of work
consists of prescribed music courses and study in
applied music, usually requiring proficiency in an
instrument, voice, or conducting.
LLB – Bachelor of Laws – This degree allows
students to continue to become a lawyer.
Graduates who have a non-LLB law degree may
still need to do a law conversion (Graduate
Diploma in Law) alongside non-law graduates in
order to gain the equivalent of LLB status.
Joint honours courses are ideal if a student is
interested in studying more than one subject
within one qualification. A combined course
focuses on two subjects in the same timeframe
as a single honours degree, but with a level of
flexibility and a greater choice of modules.
Many courses now offer students the opportunity
to study for an extra year and graduate with an
integrated masters. Common acronyms to look
out for are MEng or MSci from the engineering or
science related subjects. These degrees finish at
Foundation Degrees vs Foundation Years
Foundation Degrees and Foundation Years often
get confused given their similar names, but
they mean slightly different things. Foundation
Degrees go up to level 5 and usually take two
years. They are work-focused degrees with a large
practical element, and potentially reduced time in
Foundation Years are usually level 3 or 4 and are a
stepping stone to a degree from level 4. Students
may take this because they don’t meet the entry
requirements for degrees beyond level 4, or if they
are exploring new subjects and need to gain more
specific knowledge in a particular area.
Always get in touch. There is a
wealth of choice available for
students as you will see, and
university colleagues will always
be happy to guide you through
their course portfolio.
A big thanks to Meg Magrath, who worked on this content with Kat whilst in the role of Campaigns Manager at the University of East London.