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After University

Study Options - Degree


A is a recognised benchmark of academic attainment. with the award of , , and are all first degrees, and many are offered on a full-time or part-time basis. A full time degree normally requires study for a three year period; a part time degree normally requires study for a period of between four and five years.

A e.g. BSc Nursing; BA Primary Education, gives eligibility for a particular career area, also giving a choice of specialisation within that field, depending on the components of the course. A vocational course does not mean you only have one career choice - it can still be used exactly as a non-vocational degree.

A degree e.g. BA History; BSc Geography, gives access to only occupations, or graduate level entry to occupations where your degree subject is not of particular relevance. The range of options in this category can seem overwhelming and you may want help from your careers service in narrowing it down and working out your job-hunting strategies.

Why take a degree?

You and your potential can view a degree in various ways.

A degree may be a pre-requisite for the e.g. practising as a doctor, or being a chartered accountant. For most people the degree means access to an extended career path that will more readily include management responsibilities. It is also recognised financially in that graduates expect, and usually attract, more money!

The degree is the end, for most, of the conventional path through the education system and so, is a time for decision-making and for planning the transition to the world of work. Not everyone who chooses a vocational or applied degree remains committed to that subject during their working life but making decisions that suit you will require an increasingly sophisticated process of personal career decision making.

Statistics show that the majority of graduates in vocational disciplines do seek related work, but that there are many who do not. Consequently, this is a period of review and evaluation, so that appropriate choices can be made and implemented.

Entrance Requirements

To gain entry onto a course students will need to have the following , although it should be noted that this is simply a guide to entry and any specific questions should be directed to the in question.

All students should have passed five subjects at (grade C or above) including English Language and Mathematics.

In addition, students require one of the following:

  • Passes at GCE in two subjects.
  • Pass at GCE A level in one subject and passes at GCE AS level in two other subjects.
  • Passes at in two subjects.
  • Pass at Vocational A level in one subject and passes at Vocational AS level in two other subjects.
  • Pass at Vocational A level (double award).
  • Pass at GCE A level in one subject and Pass at Vocational A level in one subject.
  • Pass at GCE A level in one subject and passes at in two other subjects.
  • Pass at Vocational A level in one subject and passes at GCE AS level in two other subjects.
  • Pass in a .
  • The Leaving Certificate of the Republic of Ireland with grade C in three subjects at higher level.
  • A with passes in four subjects at Honours level.
  • Successful completion of the European or .
  • Successful completion of a recognised access course.

Things to consider

You will be at for a period of time between three to four years. Therefore you will need to consider carefully where you go to University, the you choose to study, money and funding to name a few.

Where you go will fundamentally depend on the course that you choose, as some courses are offered at only a few Universities. You will also find that entry requirements will differ for the same course from University to University. Quite often there are only one hundred places on a course that a thousand or more students will apply for. When thinking about which course to do, be realistic, it is a course that you have a chance of attaining the grades for, and hence getting onto.

Where to undertake a degree

As stated in the previous section you are most likely to attend a University that offers the course that you want to study, although you may choose to locate a suitable course at a particular University. You will need to think about whether the course that you choose suits your requirements. If you want to do an for instance, this may be not offered at all Universities. Talk to your peers who are at University or have completed a degree, as they may be able to provide valuable insight. Some Universities are also known for being the best in certain subject areas, or have greater facilities in or Engineering.

When to study

You could choose to take your degree at any stage in your life, not everyone goes will continue from higher education. Mature students are now a common sight around the , as they quite often return to study after a break, after having children or simply to have a complete career change. Although the majority of students tend to go to University from a higher , there are a growing number who take a GAP year. A is exactly what it says, a years break from studying to pursue other interests. Students sometimes go travelling, partake in voluntary work, paid work or take an extending holiday. Taking work in your GAP year can prove to be fruitful, once University life actually starts; as living on a budget can prove to be difficult.

Another option open to students is to take your course part-time rather than on a full-time basis. Study part-time offers it's own set of benefits; you will no longer need to worry about having enough money to live on, and the course itself will be spread over a longer period. Students with work or social commitments or those with young children usually take part-time courses.

When to apply

starts to receive applications for entry in Autumn (from 1st September of the previous year). are advised to apply as early as possible after having made a careful and considered choice of and courses. It is in the best interests of all applicants to apply before 15th December in the year previous to starting the course as applications received at UCAS after that date are considered as late. While the University will normally consider late applications, there is no guarantee that they will be given the same level of academic consideration as applications received prior to 15th December.


A degree or other higher qualification can open up career options and boost your income considerably. Most students will have to make some financial outlay - but it will make a difference to your future. There's plenty of support and guidance available and, with a bit of careful planning, keeping your finances under control needn't be a stressful affair. Don't let the thought that you might be in debt when you graduate put you off going to University. Take a little care, work out a budget, and enjoy University life.

The two main costs to meet are tuition fees and living costs. You may qualify for a contribution from your towards your fees and all home students are entitled to apply for a Student Loan towards their living costs. You need to contribute towards the cost of your tuition fees. The extent of your contribution depends on your own income and, if appropriate, your parents or spouses income. The most important thing to remember is to apply to your LEA (Local Education Authority) as soon as you have an offer of a place, don't wait until your results are in. More information on fees and loans can be found in the funding section on this website.

Additional Information

Useful information can be found from the following sources:

  • (CDL).
  • Course enquiries.
  • CSU Prospects.
  • (DfEE).
  • Department for Education and Employment (EU students).
  • .
  • .
  • .
  • International and European office.
  • (LEA).
  • (NUS).
  • .
  • and supplementary grants.
  • .
  • (TTA).
  • The Grants Register 2001.
  • .
  • UK Research Councils.