The academic year
All levels of study in the UK generally start in September and will end in June/July of the following year. The year is divided into 3 periods:
- Autumn Term from September to December
- Spring Term from January to March
- Summer Term from April to July
Compulsory education starts from the age of 5 and continues to age 18, which is the same at both public and private schools. The British education system is generally divided into three levels: Primary, Secondary and Higher.
Primary education in the UK starts at the age of 5 (Year 1) and students will remain at Primary school until age 10 (Year 6).
Secondary education in the UK runs from the age of 11 (Year 7) to age 18 (Year 13).
GCSE’s are the first major examination and these will start when students are age 14 (Year 9) and continue until they reach the age of 16 (Year 11). Students can choose between 4-5 subjects of interest and they must take three compulsory subjects: English, Mathematics and Science (includes Chemistry, Biology and Physics). In most cases, students will take approximately 6 – 10 subjects and will need a grade of C or higher to pass the GCSE.
Upon completion of GCSE’s, students choose between two routes covering their age of 17-18 (Year 12-Year 13). A-Levels are the route to University. Most students aiming to pursue a bachelor’s degree will choose to study subjects that are of interest or related to the course they wish to pursue at the undergraduate level. The number of A-Level subjects taken will vary by student but it is common for the top universities to require 3 or 4 subjects. Students choosing not to go to university will need a professional/vocational qualification, there are several options such as GNVQ (General National Vocational Qualification) or NVQ (National Vocational Qualification).
Higher education in the UK is divided into three main courses:
Most courses are completed in 3 years and students are awarded degrees such as BA (Bachelor of Arts), BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration), BEd (Bachelor of Education), BSc (Bachelor of Science) or LLB (Bachelor of Law). Some fields may take longer to complete, such as Engineering (4 years), Architecture (5 years), Dentistry (5 years), Veterinary Science (5 years) and Medicine (6 years)
In addition, UK universities offer a wide range of programs to meet student needs, such as:
• Joint Honors Degree is a combination of 2 or more disciplines. This provides an option to choose courses in a similar field of study, or from completely different faculties e.g. computing and psychology.
• Sandwich year placements are optional across many degree programmes. These internships/work placements cover a full academic year and are closely connected to a relevant industry, students choosing this route will take an additional year to graduate from their bachelor’s degree.
Note: international students transferring from a high school education system different from the UK may be required to undertake a Foundation year prior to commencing the bachelor’s degree. This transition provides the relevant academic framework, English language (if required), and supports international students adapt to their new learning environment.
A master’s degree in the UK generally takes one year, with students choosing a field which meets their interest or career goals. The master’s degree coursework is divided into two main sections. The first half of the program is largely spent in the classroom with lectures, seminars, small group tutoring, and lab work. The second half of the program students will work independently on a research project to submit their final dissertation/thesis.
Note: International students applying for a master’s degree must meet the IELTS score requirement. If students don’t meet the criteria, it’s common to enroll on a short pre-sessional course to improve their English level which is completed by undertaking the University internal language test and achieving the score needed to progress onto the master’s degree.
Doctorate level or research course
This course usually takes 4 years to complete and will focus on particular research area. Admission to a PhD program requires submission of a research proposal to be reviewed by University faculty staff, consequently students need to demonstrate they have adequate theoretical and practical expertise in their chosen field.
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