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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Bachelors degrees

Bachelors degrees are higher education qualifications that help you develop a thorough understanding of a subject. There are a vast number of subjects to choose from.

Bachelors degrees: BA, BSc, MB and more

A bachelors degree (sometimes known as an 'ordinary' or 'first' degree) is a course of academic study leading to a qualification such as a bachelor of arts (BA), bachelor of science (BSc), or bachelor of medicine (MB).

It usually takes three or four years to complete full time (normally four years if you're doing a sandwich course, which includes a year in industry or abroad). Bachelors degrees in some subjects can take longer; for example, medical courses usually take five or six years. You can also study for a bachelors degree part time or through flexible learning.

The qualification is designed to give you a thorough understanding of a subject. It helps you develop your analytical, intellectual and essay or dissertation writing skills. You'll also have much more of a say about the direction your learning takes than you've had previously. 

Bachelors degrees are at level 6 on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. The framework shows how different higher education qualifications compare, in terms of the demands they place on learners.

What you can study

There are a vast number of different bachelors degree courses to choose from.

Some subjects like medicine, law and architecture prepare you for a particular career. Others, like English or history can equip you with skills for a wide range of jobs.

Entry requirements

To study for a bachelors degree, you will need to have some previous qualifications.

The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) operates a system called the 'UCAS Tariff'. Your previous qualifications can earn points on the tariff to get a place on a particular higher education course; different courses will ask for a different number of points.

Most bachelors degrees ask for at least two A levels at grade E or above (or equivalent grades in other qualifications). 

To find out entrance requirements for a particular course, you can do a search on the UCAS website, or read the course prospectus - most are now available from the universities' websites.

How you are assessed

Different courses will assess you in different ways. Generally, bachelors degrees involve a mixture of exams and coursework. Some ask you for a written dissertation that you produce at the end of the course.


Bachelors degrees are graded:

  • first
  • upper-second (2:1)
  • lower second (2:2)
  • third
  • pass
  • fail

A third or above means you get a bachelors degree with honours.


If you are not happy with the grade you have been awarded, and want to appeal, you will need to follow the appeals procedure in your college or university.

Where and when you can take them

Bachelors degree courses start throughout the year, although most begin in September or October. Check individual prospectuses to find out about starting dates for particular courses.

You can study for a bachelors degree at universities, higher education colleges and via distance learning.

Where they can lead

Most graduates use their bachelors degree to move into a job or profession. You could also use the qualification to go on to a postgraduate course of higher education, such as a diploma or masters degree.

How to apply and find out more

To find out more about bachelors degree courses, including how to apply, see the 'University and higher education' section.

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