Education System in UK

Higher education in the UK varies depending on the constituent state (England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland), though the systems are fairly similar. Undergraduate degrees at universities in the UK typically last three years, although courses in Scotland are usually a year longer. Some UK universities also offer fast-track undergraduate courses which can be completed in as little as two years. You could also choose a vocational-based ‘foundation degree’, which typically lasts one or two years and is similar to the US associate’s degree.

Students in the UK start their higher education with a bachelor’s degree, although for some subjects you can enroll on an undergraduate degree that leads directly into a master’s program – usually four years long. Master’s programs last one or two years, and PhDs at least three. Courses are taught in English at most universities in the UK, with some Welsh-language programs offered in Wales and Scottish Gaelic-language programs in Scotland.

Bachelor’s Degree (England, Wales, Northern Ireland)
Students apply to UK universities, through the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS), a central government agency that coordinates applications for every university. Students may make 5 choices on their UCAS form. Wide ranges of degree courses are available, which provide skills for a variety of jobs or further study.

  • A Bachelor’s degree is usually a 3 year program at a university or higher education college.
  • Universities evaluate students’ predicted A-level scores (or equivalent), among other criteria, during the admissions process
  • Students must choose course as part of the university application
  • Types of degrees include: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc)
  • Some degree programs are for 4 years and include a ‘sandwich’ year when students gain relevant work experience for 1 year.
  • In countries where students have fewer than 13 years education, it is likely that students will need to study a year-long Foundation Certificate program before starting a bachelor’s degree

Bachelor’s Degree (Scotland)
Wide ranges of degree courses are available at Scottish universities, which tend to emphasize breadth across subjects and students typically do not specialize subjects until the third year.

  • A Bachelor’s degree is a 4 year program at university.
  • During the admissions process universities evaluate the students’ Highers results among other criteria.
  • Students may take a sandwich course, a year of study abroad or work before courses are completed
  • Traditionally, Scottish universities award a Master of Arts (MA) degree, which is equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree
  • The Honours degree is awarded after an additional year of research at the university.

Master’s Degree
A Master’s degree in the UK may be research based, a taught course or a combination of the two and will prepare students for a particular career or for a doctorate qualification, and are offered in a variety of fields

  • Requires the successful completion of an undergraduate degree.
  • Typically a 12 month program
  • Taught master’s qualifications include: Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc) and Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Research master’s qualifications include: Master of Research (MRes), Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

The key to successful study at this level is good preparation for your course through our Pre-MBA and Pre-Master’s programs.

Doctorate programs require students to undertake an original piece of research.

  • Generally requires a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
  • Minimum length of three years at a university
  • Typically students work on a single research project or dissertation
  • Types of degrees: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD or DPhil)

International Students
To study in the UK, international students whose English is not their first language must provide evidence of English language proficiency. Most universities in the UK prefer the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate. IELTS 6.0+ is the usual level required for undergraduate study and IELTS 6.5+ for postgraduate.

In addition to proving English proficiency, international students must also check that their qualifications meet the school’s entry requirements, and UK NARIC provides information and advice on international qualifications. International Foundation Certificate courses are available for students that have not met required qualifications. International students may be required to take a Pre-master’s program if their English language and study skills and qualifications do not meet the requirements to begin a Master’s degree.

If it is your aim to get a degree from a UK university, the Kaplan International Colleges University Placement Service (UPS) will help you gain entry. Student using this service will benefit from our extensive network of partner institutions and our long experience of guiding students through the admission process.

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