The UK traditionally offers 3-year undergraduate degrees and 1-year masters programmes at its universities. If you are an international or EU student who needs to improve their English or meet conditional offer agreements, foundation courses and English language schools can help you hit your targets.
If you are unsure about what type of degree or course to study in the UK, you can contact us by using the contact us form.
UK Higher Education
- Two Year Degree
- PhD/Research Degree
- Distance Learning
Foundation Courses in the UK
What is a Foundation course?
If you are an international student finishing your high school exams, have completed less than 13 years of education and would like to take your first degree in the UK, you will need to study a foundation course at a UK university or college. A foundation is a one-year preparation course for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation for entry onto a UK university undergraduate course.
Foundation programmes are for school-leavers who have studied a non-British curriculum but wish to pursue a degree at a UK university. The foundation course acts as a bridge between your current qualifications and UK university undergraduate entry requirements and is designed to plug academic gaps, improve your English and familiarise you with UK life and culture in preparation for university.
Foundation Course Types
Foundation courses can prepare you for a variety of subjects such as business, finance and management, computing, law, art and design, engineering, social science, medicine, science and pharmacy, media and humanities.
Certain foundation providers have partnerships with universities and can guarantee progression to that institution if the student achieves high enough grades. Many programmes will see the student based on campus, benefitting from full university status with complete access to libraries, equipment and sporting facilities.
Foundation Course Requirements
A minimum IELTS score of 4.5 is required for international students wishing to study a foundation, with no single element less than 4.0. If you have no formal English qualifications, you may need to attend an English language course or college prior to starting your foundation course. Documents and entry requirements needed are:
- Minimum IELTS score of 4.5 or equivalent
- Higher Secondary School Certificate
- Higher Secondary transcripts
- Reference letter from your high school teacher
- Personal statement
- Scanned copy of passport and visa
If you need to improve your English, IELTS preparation courses are available for all levels and abilities at our London Language Centre. Sign up for a free IELTS practice test and improve your reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Undergraduate Degrees in the UK
International undergraduate applications to all UK universities are managed by UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) and, as an official UCAS centre, Graduateplace’s professional university consultants can guide you through the entire university application process.
How long do undergraduate degrees last?
For a first degree, most international students study a three-year undergraduate bachelor's degree, featuring a combination of seminars, workshops and lectures made up of different modules. Certain modules are optional, and as such students can tailor study to what they are most interested in.
Some undergraduate degrees, such as a science and engineering, can take up to four years to complete, whilst the introduction of fast-track 2-year degrees enable students to complete their undergraduate course and find a job much quicker.
Types of undergraduate degree
In addition to the standard 3-year undergraduate degree, a joint or dual-honours undergraduate degree will see students split their time across two different courses, meaning a larger choice of modules and increased job options after you graduate.
A sandwich course will last four years and involve spending one year at a work placement related to your field of study.
Short undergraduate degrees
- Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) – Lasts for one year full-time and two years part-time.
- Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) – A 2-year full-time degree course.
Neither of the above fast-track degree options lead to postgraduate study, but students can move into an extended three-year degree if they change their mind.
Where can I study an undergraduate degree?
Undergraduate courses at UK universities provide world class teaching, state-of-the-art facilities and global recognition from employers.
Pre-Masters Courses in the UK
What is a Pre-Masters?
A Pre-Masters is for international students who need to improve their English and develop research, academic writing and seminar skills ahead of a taught master degree. Pre-Masters programmes in the UK are designed to prepare international students fully for studying at postgraduate level and deliver high quality students.
Courses range in length from ten weeks to twelve months and provide an essential grounding for successful postgraduate study. A Pre-Masters will greatly increase the English language and study skills required for successful postgraduate study, as well as familiarising international students with UK teaching methods.
Do I need to study a Pre-Masters?
You will need to take a Pre-Masters if:
- Your undergraduate degree does not meet the academic requirements of your masters
- You need to improve your use of academic or general English
- You need to improve your study, research and presentation skills
Pre-Masters entry requirements
You must have finished an undergraduate degree at a recognised institution with at least a pass. For a typical two-semester Pre-Masters, a minimum IELTS score of 5.5 is required.
Top Pre-Masters programmes in the UK
UK universities welcome postgraduate students from all over the world and you should not be discouraged if your academic and English language skills fall short of what is required.
Masters Courses in the UK
What is a Master degree?
A postgraduate or masters course in the UK follows the successful completion of an undergraduate degree, generally lasting for just one year compared to two-year Masters programmes found elsewhere in the world. This means students can save time, money and begin their career much quicker with a highly regarded UK postgraduate degree.
Why study a Master’s degree in the UK?
The UK is home to some of the leading universities in the world, renowned for their quality of teaching and research. A UK postgraduate degree is held in high esteem by employers, and for international students studying in the UK it is a fantastic opportunity to improve your English and immerse yourself in a multicultural and exciting community of academics and students. You will:
- Improve your career prospects
- Gain an internationally recognised qualification
- Earn more over the course of your career because of the weight a UK Masters carries
- Be able to shape study around your schedule
A study carried out by the Higher Education Statistics Agency showed that 86 per cent of students who completed a Postgraduate Masters in the UK were in full-time employment following graduation, compared to just 75 per cent of undergraduate leavers.
Types of Masters degree
There are four main types of taught programme, Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MSc), Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Engineering (MEng), with each lasting 1-2 years full-time.
On a taught programme, students are expected to attend weekly seminars, tutorials and lectures, much like an undergraduate degree, and assessment can be via exam, dissertation or project.
A Research degree will see students take more responsibility for their work and schedule, basing their study around a thesis while being supervised by an academic. The most popular research degree is a PhD, which can take 3-4 years to complete, and consists of writing a thesis between 60,000 – 100,000 words which is then presented in an oral examination.
Other types of Research degree include the Master of Science (MSc), Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Master of Research (MRes). These degrees are similar to a PhD, but not as academically demanding with papers being much shorter.
How much does a Masters cost?
The average cost of a postgraduate and Masters degree in the UK for an international student is £14,620. Tuition fees at postgraduate level vary on the type of Masters you wish to study, which part of the UK you wish to live, and what university you attend.