Types of degree and qualification

Types of degree and qualification

By Yashi Banymadhub,

As you are approaching the end of your A levels and your time at secondary school is inevitably drawing to a close, you may find yourself asking, ‘what’s next?’ With so many different types of qualifications being offered in the UK, the decision of which academic path to choose next can leave you feeling a little overwhelmed. To facilitate your task, we have listed some of the different degree types in order to help you get to grips with post-secondary education.  

Bachelor’s degrees
A Bachelor’s degree, often referred to as a baccalaureate degree, is usually awarded for an undergraduate course lasting between three and six years. It will more often than not be divided into two main groups: the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS). The Bachelor of Science is awarded for more technical fields of study such as mathematics, physics and social sciences, whereas the Bachelor of Arts is related to the arts and humanities sectors. Whether a subject falls into the BA or Bsc category may depend on the university. Economics, for example, may fall into either category.

BA (Bachelor of Arts)
Generally taking three years to complete, the Bachelor of Arts degree involves courses in liberal arts and humanities (eg. English literature and ancient history). This can also include joint honours courses such as BAE (Bachelor of Arts and Economics) and BASc (Bachelor of arts and science - a combination of an arts and science degree e.g. Bachelor of Arts and Science in mathematics and philosophy).

BSc (Bachelor of Science)
Bachelor of Science degrees usually follow the same structure as Bachelor of Arts degrees but are to do with mathematical or scientific courses such as the Bachelor of Science in Social Science (BSocSc), Medical Science (BMSc) and Engineering (BSc(Eng)).

Bachelor degrees are also divided in many more sub-categories such as BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts),  BFin (Bachelor of Finance) and BPhil (Bachelor of Philosophy)

English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish Degrees
English, Welsh and Northern Irish degrees are similar in the sense that students starting out on their first degree will study for their Bachelor degree over a period of three years and do a dissertation or research project. Four year degrees are usually considered to be Masters (MA) degrees in England or an Honour’s Bachelor’s degree in Ireland.  Degrees are granted 1st , upper 2nd, lower 2nd, or 3rd class honours . It is common for these degrees to include a year abroad to complete a work placement in a relevant field. Scottish degrees differ in length with bachelor degrees lasting for four years and integrated master degrees for five years.

College vs University Degree
College degrees are often vocational and designed with the intention of leading straight to a specific job, having learnt the required skills. Typical college courses include hairdressing, beauty therapy, and catering.

Due to their affiliations with universities, certain colleges can offer university certificate, diploma and degree courses to its students. Examples of these include the Nazarene Technological College (NTC) and its association with the University of Manchester, the University College Northampton and the University College Chichester.

University degrees on the other hand tend to be more academic, as bachelor degrees are essential in certain fields such as medicine and law. University degrees help you to focus on one long-term career whilst at the same time broadening your horizons and opening doors to various careers due to the fact that they are academically orientated rather than skills-based for a specific job.

To help put it all into perspective, colleges offer a number of degrees but a university is a collective group of colleges that offers a wider variety of degrees if you are not already set on targeting a particular skill-based job.

Higher National Diploma (HND)
A HND is a BTEC qualification that is the equivalent of a second year of university that takes between one and two years to complete. Students with a HND will usually be accepted by universities to complete the third and final year of their university degree or for another two years for Scottish degrees.