The academic year
In the UK, the standard academic year starts in September or October and runs until June or July.
Postgraduate courses often run from September to September, and there are other courses that are more flexible and offer a range of start dates.
Subjects and modules
Most higher education courses have a ‘modular’ structure. This means that you can build a personalised course by choosing modules or units of study from different subject areas. For example, if you are studying English literature, for your first year you could choose one module on Science fiction, one module on Children’s literature, and one module on Short stories.
If you are interested in more than one subject, you may be able to study a combination as part of your course, e.g. English literature and psychology. You can often decide for yourself how much time you would like to spend on each subject. ‘Joint’ means the two subjects are studied equally, ‘major/minor’ means the time spent is usually 75 per cent/25 per cent.
Most full-time undergraduate courses take three years to complete (typically four years in Scotland). Full-time postgraduate courses can be from one year upwards.
Some degrees are available to study as accelerated courses taken over two years instead of three, so that you can gain your qualification even faster. Accelerated degrees have the same amount of modules as their three year options, allowing you to get even better value for money by getting the same course with a year less of living costs.
Part-time courses are normally taken over a longer period, so that you can work alongside your studies or learn at a more relaxed pace. If you need a visa to study in the UK, please check your immigration status allows you to do a part-time course.