Generally the term 'undergraduate degree' refers to bachelor's qualifications (BA, BSc, BEd, LLB, BEng etc.). Usually you will study your bachelor’s degree for 3 years; however, in certain disciplines the course length can be from minimum of 2 years and up to 5 years. The degree classifications are:
- First-class honours (1st)
- Second-class honours, upper division (2:1)
- Second-class honours, lower division (2:2)
- Third-class honours (3rd)
- Ordinary degree (pass)
In certain countries, the high school qualification is not equivalent to UK ‘A’ levels and in such case you will be advised to take a foundation course prior to the main course of study. Foundation courses are usually 1 year long and upon successful completion will help you progress to a bachelor’s degree.
Foundation degrees are intended to give a basic knowledge in a subject to enable the holder to go on to employment or further study in that field. They are normally offered by universities and further education colleges, who are working in partnership. It is common for Foundation degree holders to "top-up" to a full Honours Degree award, which typically involves one further year of full-time study (longer for part-time study).
Generally the term ‘postgraduate degree’ refers to a master’s degree in the UK. Master’s programmes usually last 12-18 months. The three most common titles of master's degrees are Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc) and Master of Business Administration (MBA).
An MBA (Master of Business Administration) continues to be one of the most prestigious business qualifications and one of the most popular postgraduate programmes worldwide. As this qualification is designed for more mature applicants who already have a bachelor’s or maybe even a master’s degree, you will be expected to have minimum of 2 years of work experience to qualify.
Postgraduate diplomas are considered by the National Qualification Framework (NQF) to be at a comparable level to a master's degree, however, they require fewer study credits to achieve (120 Credits) when compared to a full Masters Degree (180 credits). A postgraduate diploma is commonly awarded to students who have completed most or all of the courses of a master's programme, but did not do the master's dissertation.
The Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) is a one-year higher education course in the UK, which provides training in order to allow graduates to become teachers within state schools. The PGCE is a professional qualification normally taught at a university or other higher education institution, with much of the course time spent on placements in local schools. A trainee teacher will have to meet the standards for qualified teacher status and any course specific requirements to be awarded the PGCE. In England only, a trainee teacher also has to pass the professional skills test before starting a course.
A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is a type of doctorate degree awarded by universities in the United Kingdom. It is an advanced postgraduate degree involving three or more years of independent research on an original topic. Is carried out with the support of one or more expert academic supervisors. Results in a thesis that offers a significant original contribution to knowledge. Confers the title ‘Doctor’ upon successful candidates. Is the highest academic degree a student can achieve and is considered the de facto entrance qualification for a career in academia