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What are the different types of undergraduate courses?

Confused by the range of courses on offer? Don’t know which type of degree to go for? It’s ok, that’s what we’re here for.

Joshua Paulson
by Joshua Paulson
Last Updated:
17 Sep 2021

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What's an undergraduate degree?

In a nutshell, an undergraduate degree is an academic qualification you'll earn by studying your first higher education degree course, most commonly a bachelor's. 

When starting your uni research, you'll notice universities offer a number of different undergraduate courses  from BA to BEng, combined honours to sandwich courses. But what are they all about, and which one will you end up studying?

Here's a brief guide to some of the most popular undergraduate degrees in the UK.

Bachelor's degree

You may have already looked at a few undergraduate courses online and stumbled upon letters such as BA and BSc and been confused by what they mean.

Let's break them down:

BA: Bachelor of Arts (subjects like History, Marketing, Drama)
BSc: Bachelor of Science (subjects like Maths, Biology, Psychology)
BEd: Bachelor of Education  (Education and teacher training subjects) 
BEng: Bachelor of Engineering (Engineering courses)

You may have also seen the word 'Hons' after the BA, BSc, etc. Simply put, it comes down to the type of mark you get at the end of your degree. If you get a third class grade or above (usually an overall mark of over 40%), you'll receive an honours degree, e.g. a BA (Hons), or BSc (Hons).

Anything below the pass mark (40% or under) and you get an ordinary degree – so just a BA or BSc.

Joint/dual honours degree

You may love studying two of your A-Level subjects so much that you’re struggling to decide which one to study at university. Well, you don’t actually have to pick just one as most unis offer joint/dual honours degrees.

In a joint honours degree, two subjects are studied concurrently within the timeframe of one degree, so you’ll do 50:50 of each subject.  A degree is joint honours if it includes 'and' within it, e.g. 'Business and German'.

Major/minor degree

However, if the degree is worded 'Business with German', it means you’ll spend more time studying for one subject than the other. This may be in a ratio of 60:40 or 66.6:33.3. These specific courses are often referred to as major/minor degrees rather than joint honours. 

Combined honours degree

Combined honours degrees (triple honours) let you study two or more different subjects as part of one degree. Only recommended if you're able to deal with the extra workload and really love the subjects.

Degrees with placement years

Also known as sandwich courses, these often last four years with one year spent either studying abroad or working in an industrial placement.

Placement/sandwich degrees with a study abroad option are highly recommended for those studying a language, as you’ll be able to use what you’ve learned in a real setting. However, many other courses come with placement options too.

With placement/sandwich degrees, the year away comes in the third year of study. Make sure to double-check your chosen university as this can vary depending on the subject and where you want to study.


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