Career tools

> My bookmarks

Higher education at 18/19 or later

Sign in or register to add to 'Bookmarks' in 'My Career Tools'

Types of HE level courses (Level 4+)

i stock 23

i stock 23

There are lots of different types of higher education level courses available. Higher education means any nationally recognised qualification which is at Level 4 or above (A Levels, BTEC Diploma and Extended Diploma and Advanced Apprenticeship are Level 3). A degree starts at Level 4 and progresses to Level 6, in the third year but there are also two year Foundation Degrees, Higher  and Degree Apprenticeships, HNCs and HNDs, Honours Degrees, Honours Degrees with a placement year, etc.

Read on to find out more...

Honours Degree Courses

An Honours degree is a course of study leading to a qualification such as a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc), or Bachelor of Law (LLB). This typically takes three or four years to complete full time (normally four years if you're doing a placement year, which includes a year in industry or abroad).

You can study for a full or part-time Honours Degree at a university, or more flexibly in your own time with the Open University, building up credits through a series of shorter courses.

Find out more about degree courses

Find out more about Open University distance learning courses

Foundation Degrees

Foundation Degrees are designed and delivered in partnership with employers and Higher Education providers (universities and colleges).

They can be taught at either a university or at a college, but the degree is awarded by a university or some colleges can award their own Foundation Degrees. They combine study with workplace learning, so you can use your place of work to provide evidence of your learning and for project work - sometimes a voluntary placement is acceptable. Foundation Degrees can be a good option if you are already working and want to further your career or if you want to study a subject related to a job. It may be possible that some companies will contribute towards the cost of the Foundation degree and the UCAS website lists some companies which are involved in Foundation degrees.

Foundation Degrees can require lower qualifications at entry than an honours degree and also can be less expensive with lower tuition costs.

View a video animation about Foundation Degrees.

A full-time Foundation Degree course will usually take two years to complete; a part-time Foundation degree course will normally take longer. After completing a Foundation Degree many students go on to study for a full Honours Degree (which usually takes one further year and study might take place at the awarding university).

Here are some of the vocational areas that offer Foundation Degrees:

  • Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Care
  • Arts, Media and Publishing
  • Business, Administration and Law
  • Construction, Planning and the Built Environment
  • Education and Training
  • Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies
  • Health, Public Services and Care
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Language, Literature and Culture
  • Leisure, Travel and Tourism
  • Retail and Commercial Enterprise
  • Science and Mathematics

Go to the What Uni? website to get some ideas of Foundation Degrees or find a Foundation Degree on the UCAS site.

Higher and Degree Apprenticeships:

Apprenticeships offer students an opportunity to learn on the job, building up knowledge and skills, gaining work-based qualifications, such as a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ), and earning money at the same time.

Higher Apprenticeships work towards work-based learning qualifications such as NVQ Level 4 and can go to Level 7, in some cases. As part of a Higher Apprenticeship you might do a knowledge-based qualification such as a Foundation or Honours Degree.

A Degree Apprenticeship is a new way to gain a degree while being employed and trained at the same time.  Click to find out which Degree Apprenticeships will be on offer.

Find out more about Apprenticeships

Hear about Abigail's experience of moving from an Apprenticeship into a Foundation Degree at the University of Plymouth.

HND/HNCs

Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Certificates (HNCs) are job-related qualifications available in a wide range of vocational areas. They are offered by college and some universities. HNCs (Level 4) take one year full-time or two years part-time. Full-time HNDs (Level 5) take two years to complete and can be used as a qualification in their own right, or for entry to the second or third year of a degree course. This can vary between universities, so you will need to check. As with degree courses, they can also include a work placement. You can find out more about your options after a HND here

Here are some of the vocational areas that offer HNDs:

  • Arts, Media and Publishing
  • Business, Administration and Law
  • Construction, Planning and the Built Environment
  • Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Leisure, Travel and Tourism

Explore a college or university's website to find out more about HNDs and HNCs.

Look at the What Uni? site for a list of HNDs/HNCs.

Degrees with Foundation Years (different from Foundation Degrees!)

A foundation year is an extra year of study at the start of a university course. It allows students who don't meet the entry requirements fill in the gaps and go on to study a full degree and most university art and design degree courses require applicants to have taken a one-year Art Foundation Course first to help students to put together an appropriate portfolio for their chosen design area.
 
Applications for Foundation courses are made directly to the institutions, whether universities or colleges, and not through UCAS

There are a variety of situations in which you might be able to study a foundation year:

  • You might have taken A-levels that don’t match the entry requirements for the degree you want to study.
  • You might not quite have made the grades you need to go straight on to the standard degree course. Offers are sometimes lower for courses with foundation years.
  • You might have a kind of qualification that isn't accepted for the course you want to study or an unrecognized qualification from another country.
  • Often arts degree courses expect students to have completed an art foundation year course.

Not all courses have foundation years.

Contact a college or university to find out about Foundation Year courses.

Access to Higher Education Diploma 

The Access to Higher Education (HE) Diploma prepares students for higher education level study.

An Access to HE Diploma is for people who might have been out of education for some time and for those who left school with too few qualifications to be able to go straight to university.

Access to HE courses provide a good foundation in the knowledge and skills required for studying at university level, so that students are confident and well prepared when they go on to higher education after the Access to HE course.

Some courses have a specific subject focus, such as Access to HE Diploma (Law), Access to HE Diploma (Nursing), or Access to HE Diploma (Business Studies). Others provide a preparation across a wider range of subjects, such as Access to HE Diploma (Social Studies) or Access to HE Diploma (Combined Sciences). Diplomas with more general titles often have a range of options available, so students on the same course are able to choose different options to suit their individual interests, plans for further study, or career ambitions.

Most Access to HE Diplomas can be completed in a year. Access courses  and there are courses offered at further education colleges in your local area.

Some Access to HE courses are offered in the evenings or by distance learning.

Find out more about Access to HE Diploma courses.

Link to video clip – Access to HE Diploma student

Contact your local college to find out more about Access Courses

Postgraduate courses:

Postgraduate qualifications (Level 7 and above) generally require applicants to have undertaken some previous study or experience in the chosen field, usually at undergraduate level.

Postgraduate courses can be full or part-time and lead to, for example, a Post Graduate Diploma, Masters, or Doctorate.

To find out more, search the individual university's website.