Undergraduate studies and degrees

Article reviewed: 2013/01/11 | Next review due: 2014/07/30

To study in a university as  an undergraduate, you must have 13 years of comprehensive school studies in your country and the equivalent of  A Level qualifications. Once you have A Level equivalents, you can apply for various ‘higher education’ qualifications, including foundation degrees, HNDs, diplomas and degrees.

Studying at a British university teaches you to think for yourself,  work independently and develop research and presentation techniques that will continue to be of use in your career, long after your studies.

Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Diploma (HND)

HNCs and HNDs are vocational 1-2yr courses. They exist in many fields, including engineering, sports studies, art and design, media and communications, music and technology. They provide access to middle management positions or, if you want to continue your studies further, you can enter through equivalence into a degree. With HNCs and HNDs, it is sometimes possible to take a training year studying abroad, or in industry as an internship.

Foundation Degrees (FdA, CSDFs etc..)

The Foundation Degree is a vocational qualification , sitting on the same level as the HNDs and HNCs, with the differences being that Foundation degrees are intended to give basic knowledge in a subject that this a good basis to either start a degree in that subject, or to go straight into the workforce.

Courses are usually take 2 years (or 3-4 years studying part time), and can be taken up with either universities or higher education colleges. You don’t need to start a full university degree once the foundation degree is completed, but you can 'top-up' to a full University Degree, usually by taking 1 more year of study.

Diplomas of Higher Education

These higher-education diplomas take two years of study, with course areas usually being linked to social sciences such as education, theology, communication studies and social work. These diplomas are an ideal solution for those who want to enter the workforce in these areas. They are also a good stepping stone to allow access to further higher education in the same area for the next stages.

University Degrees

These are the most popular form of higher education in the UK. Courses are generally three years, however certain technical courses may be longer (e.g. engineering, veterinary science, medicine). Additionally, increasingly common are courses offering 3 years of study, with a fourth year in industry as an internship (usually between the 2nd and 3rd years of training).

University International Foundation Year

To fill any gaps between qualifications you already possess and those required to enter a UK university, you can take International Foundation year to help improve your English and to build up your foundation knowledge in your chosen subject.

Registration deadlines

1st September: Registration for university starts.

15th October: Deadline for registration for medical, dental or veterinary courses, as well as Oxford and Cambridge registration.

15th January: Closing date for applications for British and European students.


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