What is the difference between a BSc and BA Hons?by Caroline Hardaker
There’s lots to think about when choosing an undergraduate degree and lots of new names and terminology to understand. Most degrees will have BA or BSc attached to their titles – but what do BA and BSc mean? And what is the difference between them? Find out in our latest blog…
Quickly find answers to the most commonly asked questions
What is a BA?
BA really means Bachelor of Arts. The BA title is normally pinned to undergraduate degrees such as modern foreign languages, music, the arts, communities, and most of the humanities subjects.
A Bachelor of Arts degree usually takes three years to complete, though in some countries they last four years. In the UK, three years is the most common. Most BA degrees explore theoretical ideas about subjects, such as English Literature, Language, and Linguistics or Philosophy, though some undergraduate BA subjects do include some hands-on practice, such as Fine Art or Music.
What is a BSc?
BSc means Bachelor of Science. In earlier days of higher education, all undergraduate programmes were Bachelor of Arts. This changed in 1860, when the University of London started offering Bachelor of Science degrees for the first time.
BSc is usually attached to degrees in the sciences. This includes a huge range of undergraduate studies, and includes everything from Computer Science to Agriculture!
A BSc will usually last for three years, though many can stretch up to five years depending on the subject. In the UK, three years is the most usual. Some Bachelor of Science degrees offer hands-on experience in specific fields – such as field trips on dedicated marine vessels or dedicated work placements.
Here at Newcastle, most degrees come with a work placement option, regardless of whether they are a BA or a BSc. Find out more, including the latest information about work placements during the current global pandemic, in our Careers Hub.
What careers can I do with a BA or a BSc?
Studying a BA degree can be a great way to stand out to employers, as it will help you develop transferable skills such as independent learning, how to research, group work, and organisational and communication skills. Often these are great degrees for abstract thinkers, future educators, researchers, or communicators, or even young people who might be interested in doing a Master’s or PhD after their degree.
Like a BA, studying a BSc really helps you stand out to employers in a range of fields, from teaching to roles in specialist scientific sectors. But studying towards a BSc doesn’t limit you to a future in science-specific subjects – there’s a lot of flexibility to use the transferable skills you’ve gained in a range of career areas.
Use our Subject Explorer to discover a wide range of undergraduate subjects and some suggested career routes. Our in-house Careers team is dedicated to helping all students prepare for the jobs market and make their dreams a reality during their degrees and for three years after graduation. Meet the team and find out more here.
Should I study a BA or a BSc degree?
Whether you should study a BA or BSc degree will really depend on your interests, skills, and ambitions. Think about the school or college settings you enjoy the most – are they often in labs? Or are they more theoretical study or discussion-based? Also, think about where you imagine yourself working. Are there any particular skills required?
Whether you choose to study a BA or BSc will likely be a consequence of the subject you’ve chosen to study. As both types of undergraduate degree offer many specific and transferable skills to take into a future career, sometimes it’s easiest at the research stage to concentrate on browsing degree subjects. Check out our how to choose a university course blog for more ideas on how to find the subject for you.
A few subjects, like Geography, have both BA Geography and BSc Geography options. While both degrees explore key societal and environmental challenges and encourage you to engage with and understand the world, the BSc Geography option would also help you develop advanced laboratory and GIS skills. Both degrees are tailorable with over 50 modules to choose from, so there’s still a lot of scope to make your degree your own.
Have you started exploring your subject options? Not sure which degree is right for you? Browse our Subject Explorer to discover a huge range of undergraduate subjects, their related courses, and potential career routes.
Published By Caroline Hardaker on 15/10/2020 | Last Updated 17/03/2023