What is the school calendar like in the UK?

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The UK academic calendar typically runs from September to July. Most universities and colleges operate on a three-term year during which academic sessions are divided into Autumn, Spring and Summer terms.

Each term will last between roughly 9 and 12 weeks depending on the institution and course. However, there is much variety, and some universities will divide the calendar into two semesters or unevenly lengthened terms.

How is the grading system in the UK?

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You might find that the grading system in the UK is different from what you are used to at home. At undergraduate level, universities typically divide passing grades into  four categories:

- 70-100%: First-Class Honours (known as a First)

- 60-70%: Upper Second-Class Honours (known as a 2:1)

- 50-60%: Lower Second-Class Honours (known as a 2:2)

- 40-50%: Third-Class Honours (known as a Third)

At postgraduate level these four categories generally keep the same percentage levels, but the names become (in descending order): Distinction, Merit, and Pass.

Make sure to check your institution's student handbook for specific grading criteria, as this will vary depending on the course and even sometimes the professors.


How do I apply for an undergraduate course in the UK?

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If you want to study an undergraduate course at a UK university then you should apply through the official UCAS website. You can complete the form online and get to list 5 different universities on your application form and can list different courses if you wish. However, it is best to choose courses at different universities in the same subject, so you can write about that one subject in your personal statement.

UCAS takes applications at certain times each year for the next academic year of courses. The opening and closing dates vary, but here is rough guide of when you should apply:

  • EU students must submit their application between mid-September and mid-January during the academic year before your course starts. However, if you are applying for the University of Oxford or Cambridge, or for a Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary course, you need to apply by mid-October.
  • Non-EU students can usually apply any time from mid-September to late June in the academic year before you want to start your course. However, like EU students, if you are applying for the University of Oxford or Cambridge, or for a Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary course, you need to apply by mid-October.  

The general rule should be that regardless of when your application deadline is, you should plan to apply as soon as possible to give yourself plenty of time. Similarly, if you are a non-EU student and leave it till June to apply, many of the courses may have already filled up.  

After you have sent your application form, some institutions will require you to go for an interview, whilst some will base their offer solely on your application. If getting to an interview in the UK is a problem for you, most universities offer the option of a telephone interview or one in your home country.

How long do undergraduate courses take to complete?

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If studying full time, most undergraduate degree courses usually last three years in the UK. It varies for each institution, but generally, each academic year starts in October and ends in June, and is split into three terms, each 10-12 weeks long. The exact dates of your course should be easy to find on the university website.

Part time courses usually take about twice as long as the equivalent full time ones, so a part time undergraduate degree would typically take 6 years to complete.

What are the fees for undergraduate courses?

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International students from EU countries pay the same fees as UK based, or 'home' students. For a full time undergraduate university course these are currently around £3,000 a year. However, they are set to increase to up £9,000 a year if your course starts in 2012 onwards.   

Non-EU students currently have to pay significantly higher fees than home/EU students. The costs vary depending on the course and institution, but for a full time undergraduate course non-EU students can pay anything from £10,000 to £15,000 a year on fees. Part time courses are cheaper- £2,500-6,000 per year-, but take longer to complete- usually at least 6 years.

To help with the cost of the fees, there are a number of scholarships available to international students studying in the UK. Have a look at our guides where you can find university scholarships and college scholarships.

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