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Mat Wright

When you think of UK higher education qualifications, you might think of bachelor’s and master’s degrees, MBAs and PhDs. There are however many other types of course on offer.

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 percent/25 percent.

Pathways courses

If you do not meet the academic or English language requirements set by the university that you are interested in, then a pathways course can help you plot a route onto your chosen degree. Foundation pathways courses help you improve your English skills and give you the confidence to start undergraduate or postgraduate study. To find out if your university offers a foundation pathway course then check their website or get in touch with their international office.

Study modes

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.

Work experience

Some courses include a year of working in industry allowing you to gain valuable experience in a profession you might consider after completing your higher education course. Please check your visa status allows you to do this before applying.

See also