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Study in the UK | What is an undergraduate degree?

Study in the UK | What is an undergraduate degree?

by Jenny Shippen

Chances are you have heard the terms ‘undergraduate’ and ‘undergraduate degree’ while researching what it would be like to study at a UK university. But do you know what they mean? 

In this blog, we have looked at some of the commonly asked questions about UK undergraduate degrees, what they are, how they work and how you can apply to study one.



  1. What is an undergraduate degree?

  2. Can international students study an undergraduate degree in the UK?

  3. What are the benefits of a degree?

  4. What are the different types of undergraduate degrees?

  5. What are the most popular Bachelor’s degrees?

  6. How does a Bachelor’s degree work?

  7. How long is an undergraduate degree?

  8. Where can I find a list of undergraduate degrees?

  9. What happens after I receive my undergraduate degree?

  10. How can I apply to a UK university? 

What is an undergraduate degree?

A UK undergraduate degree is the first degree you can study at university. It is the next step in education after school or college.

Normally, you start an undergraduate degree when you are around 18 years old, although you can study for an undergraduate degree as a mature student.


Can international students study an undergraduate degree in the UK? 

Yes! UK universities welcome international students who want to earn their undergraduate degree here – in 2021-22, over 670,000 EU and international students were studying at university in the UK.

At Newcastle University our students come from 140 countries, creating a vibrant multicultural community.




What are the benefits of a degree?

UK universities are internationally recognised for the high standard of education they offer and perform strongly in world rankings – Newcastle University is ranked 110th in the QS World University Rankings 2024.

So, a degree from a prestigious UK university will help you stand out from the crowd in a competitive job market.

Having a degree will also boost your earning potential and your chances of finding your dream job. According to Universities UK, 73% of graduates were able to find the job they wanted in less than a year as a result of going to university, and 97% of business leaders said graduates reached managerial positions faster than those who did not go to university.

Going to university in the UK will introduce you to new experiences and new people. You will learn valuable employability skills, such as communication, decision-making, problem-solving, time management, creative and critical thinking.

You will also develop life skills ranging from self-awareness, responsibility and self-motivation, to budgeting and self-sufficiency as you become more independent and confident.


What are the different types of undergraduate degrees? 

A Bachelor’s degree is the most common and widely studied type of UK undergraduate degree.

Although it is possible to study an ordinary Bachelor’s degree, in the UK most degrees are automatically with honours, indicating a higher standard of academic achievement and education at an undergraduate level.

You can study a Single honours degree, concentrating on a single subject; for example, mathematics, English language, or chemistry. Or you can take a Joint/Combined honours degree. This means you study two or three subjects at once, tailoring your degree to your interests and giving you a more varied experience.

At Newcastle University, we offer over 20 different subjects – ranging from archaeology to sociology – that you can choose from to create a Combined honours programme. We will then work with you to build a challenging and rewarding degree.




What are the most popular Bachelor’s degrees?

The most common type of Bachelor’s degrees are Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BSc). You can also study for a Bachelor of Education (BEd), Bachelor of Engineering (BEng), Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MB BS), Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) and Bachelor of Laws (LLB).

Since all our degrees are with honours, when you graduate your degree title will include (Hons); for example, BA (Hons).


How does a Bachelor’s degree work?

Bachelor’s degrees are broken down into modules that you complete over the course of your degree. Each module has its own aims, outcomes, and methods of assessment. Some modules are compulsory, while others are flexible and offer you a choice of topics to study.

For each module that you pass, you earn a certain number of credits; this contributes to the 360 credits needed to achieve your Bachelor’s degree. For example, if the modules for your course are worth 20 credits each, you will need to complete six modules each year to earn 360 credits.


How long is an undergraduate degree? 

In the UK, you can complete a full-time Bachelor’s degree in three years – that can mean lower tuition fees, accommodation and living costs compared to studying in other countries with longer undergraduate programmes.

However, there are exceptions and degrees for subjects such as medicine and dentistry will take longer to complete. Your degree will also take longer if it includes a year spent working and studying in industry, or in another country.

You can also study a degree with a foundation year. These programmes have been designed to help you build the knowledge you need to progress to a full degree.

You must successfully complete your foundation year to be guaranteed a place on your full degree programme. In total, your degree will take four years to complete.




Where can I find a list of undergraduate degrees? 

Undergraduate degrees vary from university to university, so there is no universal list to point you to. Instead, you will have to research the range of programmes available at the university you are interested in. At Newcastle University, we have over 185 undergraduate degree programmes for you to choose from.


What happens after I receive my undergraduate degree? 

What you do after graduating from university is up to you. After receiving your undergraduate degree, you may choose to enter the workforce with a wider variety of jobs now open to you.

Some students go on to further study, completing a Master’s programme or a PhD. These are known as postgraduate degrees.


How can I apply to a UK university? 

To study at a university in the UK you must apply through UCAS – the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

There is lots of support available to help you make your application: from UCAS, through education agents in your country, and on university websites.

To find out more about the support we offer, as well as the education agents we work with, check out our international pages for more details.


We hope you have found this blog post useful. It’s easy to find out more about the undergraduate degrees we offer – start your search with our subject areas and then explore the different degree programmes you could study with us.