How is a UK degree structured?

The structure of a degree can often feel confusing, dense and downright unmanageable but fear not, intrepid student, this guide is here to help you understand just what’s going on.

Let’s break all that down before we move on, from bottom to top:

  • Foundation Year – This allows you to undertake a Bachelor’s Degree. Normally one year.
  • Bachelor’s Degree – Most students study at this level when they start out. It’s what you might consider the ‘main’ type of degree in the UK. Generally takes three years.
  • Master’s Degree – The next level up from a Bachelors, harder work but in a shorter time frame. Average length is a year and a half.

Right, let’s move on shall we, onto the structure within the courses. Deep.

Course Structure

So with the subjects out of the way next up is the breakdown of the courses themselves. Here at the University of Portsmouth our courses, much like other universities in the UK, are split into what we call “modules” or “units”. These modules cover different subject areas within the course. So your lectures and seminars (we’ll dive into those shortly) will always be split up based on your modules.

An example of this would be if you were studying English Literature, one of your modules might be “Shakespeare” and so you’ll have a set amount of lectures and/or seminars each week that are directly about Shakespeare.

You are assessed per module, which means that your exams or coursework will be about each individual module you take. You may have several different exams or pieces of coursework per module, these are all graded individually and then averaged for your final score on the unit.

Now, modules are incredibly important as they are worth “credits”, these little guys are the building blocks of your degree, and you earn them by successfully passing your modules. At the University of Portsmouth you’ll need 120 credits per year during a Bachelor’s degree in order to pass the year.

Let’s take a step back again and break that down into more manageable chunks:

  • Degrees can be Single or Joint Honours – This means they either deal with one or two subjects
  • Courses are broken up into Modules – Each module deals with a different subject area
  • Modules are worth credits – Credits are what enables to pass each year of your degree, you’ll need 120 per year

“But, anonymous Internet writer!” I hear you cry. “What’s going on in the modules?”

Well, equally anonymous potential student, I have more delicious information for you.

The final part of this degree is essentially how you’re going to be taught all of that glorious information.

Seminars and Lectures

The main two methods of delivery in a University in the UK are Seminars and Lectures,

  • Lectures – Often a large group of students in a theatre (Hall) with a lecturer presenting a topic or text
  • Seminars – A smaller group of students in a classroom environment, discussion of topics is very encouraged

For now that concludes the structure of a UK degree and how they’re taught, be sure to check back on the blog for more useful information!