Basically an undergraduate is a student who is enrolled on a entry level degree course and who has not yet been awarded a degree qualification by the university. Typically the process of gaining a degree can take between three to fours years, so this means that most higher education students are normally undergraduates for this length of time. In this context the word ‘under’ essentially means ‘before’ becoming a graduate.

Key points about UK undergraduates:

  • They are normally enrolled on full time courses that last three years.
  • Undergraduates can study on part time courses as well, but these will take longer than three years.
  • Virtually all undergraduates are aged 18 and over, with a very few being 17 or younger.
  • Students apply to join undergraduate courses through UCAS, which stands for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
  • The bachelor degree is the most common degree taken by undergraduates.

What accreditation are undergraduates awarded
These depend on the subject taken and can be anything from BA (Bachelor of Arts), BSc (Bachelor of Science), LLB (Bachelor of Laws), or BEng (Bachelor of Engineering).

Undergraduate degrees
These are also known as a ‘first degree’ and are nearly always aimed at achieving a Bachelors (or equivalent) accreditation. A undergraduate degree will be a students ‘first’ degree. Only once they have gained this they will be allowed to start postgraduate courses and PhD’s etc. They are courses of study that will give individuals a thorough understanding of their field of study.

Upon obtaining a degree undergraduates then become ‘graduates’, this is a recognition of their achievement at passing their respective university course.

Undergraduate placement schemes
Many universities tend to have arrangements with major blue chip companies whereby they will allow  undergraduates to gain work experience in their organization. These placements are an excellent opportunity for students to put into practice what they have learnt on their undergraduate courses. Another advantage for them is that students who impress the employers are sometimes offered permanent positions once they graduate. The work experience placements are almost always in industries that are directly related to the course the student is on.

The word ‘post’ means after. Postgraduates degrees give students the opportunity to build on what they have learnt as a undergraduate and to further explore their specialist field.


Relevant links
University courses