Students chatting in a library whilst thinking about university courses

 by Kat Knight
, posted On 26 Mar '21
 UK Student Recruitment and Schools Liaison Manager at City, University of London

A school and college guide to university courses - which different university degrees are out there?

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 (Hons) route.We’ve broken down some of the typical types of undergraduate degrees to help you articulate the different attributes to your students.

Introducing the degree levels

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 different types of bachelor’s degrees - what do they all mean?

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 requirements.

BA – Bachelor of Arts – usually arts or humanities focused.
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 engineer.
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.

An image of a student with a tablet, listening to university videos

What is a joint honours and a combined course?

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.

What is an integrated masters degree?

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 level 7.

What are foundation degrees - and how do they compare to 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 lectures.

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.

Teachers, careers colleagues and support staff: request your FREE UniTasterDays Teachers' Guide to University brochure.

This brochure has been produced by in collaboration with HELOA - to support the university guidance that is provided in secondary schools and colleges.

Editorial has been provided by over 35 colleagues at universities and higher education institutions throughout the UK. On topics covering how to support students with their university decisions, university events, widening participation & fair access, UCAS applications (including writing school references) and more. It also includes the key student finance facts from Martin Lewis.

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