English Higher Education system

UK education system explained

It is compulsory for every child in the UK to receive full-time education at school between the ages of 5 and 16. After reaching 16, students can choose to continue their secondary education for a further two years, during which they usually study A-levels. It is common for students to study three or four A-levels that will be relevant to their chosen subject area at university. A-levels are necessary for all British students who want to study in higher education institutions.

UK higher education: Undergraduate degree

Most students enter higher education at the age of 18 to study an undergraduate degree. It usually takes three years for students in the UK to gain their bachelor’s degree (four years in Scotland). In 2009 university fees rose to a maximum of £9, 000 per year for British students, while fees for international students usually cost between £10, 000 and £30, 000 per year, depending on the course and the subject they study. Undergraduate courses allow students to develop academic and – in some cases – work-related skills. British education focuses heavily on developing writing and analytical skills.

Our Foundation Certificates prepare international students for an undergraduate degree.

UK higher education: Postgraduate degree

Once students have obtained their undergraduate degree, they can apply for a postgraduate degree. The most common master’s degrees in the UK usually last for one year. However, some PhD qualifications can take up to seven years to complete. A British master’s degree requires intensive study, with research and critical thinking being a very important part of every postgraduate course. Apart from their classes, students will spend a significant part of their time researching their specialist subject area. Postgraduates are usually assessed through written assignments and tests. Some postgraduate degrees require dissertation modules at the end of their course.


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