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Types of Degrees
The most common undergraduate degree is known as a Bachelor's degree and generally takes 3 years to complete. Your qualification will depend on the subject you are studying and the university you attend, but might include:
- BA - Bachelor of Arts
- BSc - Bachelor of Science
- LLB - Bachelor of Laws
- BEng - Bachelor of Engineering
- BDS - Bachelor of Dentistry
- BMid - Bachelor of Midwifery
- BN - Bachelor of Nursing
- MBBCh - Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery
- BArch - Bachelor of Architecture
- BVSc - Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine
In Scotland, undergraduate degrees last four years (as students in Scotland finish school a year early), and, if studying at one of the four 'ancient universities', undergraduate degrees in the arts, humanities or social sciences are awarded an MA. However, if you have studied A-levels or the IB and you are reading a subject you studied previously, for example Biology, you may be able to skip the first year, depending on your A-level/IB grades.
Honours vs. Ordinary Degrees
Bachelor's degrees consist of a number of modules made up of credits. For example, to pass the year you might have to undertake 120 credits made up of four big modules worth 20 credits each and four small modules worth 10 credits each. In this way, to pass the degree you'd need to complete 360 credits (which will also include a dissertation). You will, most probably, apply for a Honours degree, however you can apply for a non-Honours degree, which would not involve as many credits over the three years, or if you fail a year of your Honours degree by a small margin and transfer, you can be awarded an Ordinary degree.
In Scotland, three-year degrees are offered as Ordinary degrees, and can lead to postgraduate courses in the same way, while four-year degrees lead to Honours degrees.
When initially applying to university, it is becoming increasingly common (for funding reasons) to seek an enhanced Master's programme - this is a four-year undergraduate degree (five-year if studying with a year in industry or a year abroad - see "Further Course Options" above for more details) and includes studying extra subjects at a deeper level. After the end of your four years you will obtain a:
- MA - Master of Arts
- MSc - Master of Science
- LLM - Master of Laws
- MEng - Master of Engineering
- MChem - Master of Chemistry
- MMath - Master of Maths
- MPhys - Master of Physics
You can also apply to do a Master's after your Bachelor's degree - research Master's aren't available in the above format - however you will be liable to postgraduate fees, and there is currently no system in place to fund these fees so you will have to find the funding yourself.
Further Undergraduate Qualifications
If you do not think that you can complete an entire undergraduate degree, you can also apply for shorter undergraduate courses, such as a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), which takes one year, or a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), Higher National Diploma (HND), or Foundation Degree, all of which take two years to complete. Having completed these degrees, you can often top them up to obtain a full Bachelor's degree. These consist of fewer credits - either a third or two thirds of a full undergraduate degree.
For more information, please see our Higher Education pages which offer a more in-detail account of the types of qualifications available.