top of page
The Careers People. (2).png
Laptop Writing


You may have read the below words on different websites, university prospectuses or in blogs and have been unsure what they mean. This glossary will help you to understand them and support your research.


Undergraduates are students studying their first degree, usually following the completion of their A-Levels, BTECs or equivalent.


Postgraduate students have typically completed an undergraduate degree as this is required for admission.

Degree classifications

There are various classifications of degrees which can be studied at UK universities. The

main undergraduate level degrees are outlined below:

  • BA: Bachelor of Arts

  • BSc: Bachelor of Sciences

  • FdA: Foundation Degree

  • FdSc: Foundation Degree Sciences

  • PGCert: Postgraduate Certificate

  • PGDip: Postgraduate Diploma

  • LLB: Bachelor of Law

Levels 4, 5, 6

There are three levels of study within an undergraduate degree. Level 4 is the next level up from an A-Level or equivalent qualification. Level 5 is the second year of an undergraduate degree. Level 6 is the third year of an undergraduate degree.

Foundation degree

A qualification which combines work-based learning with academic study. The course is equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor degree (Level 4 and Level 5).

Foundation year

A foundation year is a one-year course that is taken prior to commencing an undergraduate

degree to bring students up to the required academic standard.

Degree apprenticeships

Different to a higher apprenticeship; they provide learners the opportunity to gain a full

bachelor’s degree alongside working part-time in their field of interest.

Joint honours degree

These are two subjects studied at degree level together. A student’s time will usually be split across the two subjects equally, but some courses do offer students the opportunity to spend more time on one than the other (this is known as ‘majoring’ and ‘minoring’).


Most school and college terms are divided by three in a single academic year. At university, there are typically only two semesters. One before Christmas, and one after.

Lectures and seminars

These are both methods of teaching at university. A lecture usually takes place in a large classroom, with a teacher speaking at the front whilst students take notes. A seminar

usually follows a lecture, with a smaller group. Students will discuss the lecture’s topic, their

research and any other reading relevant to the class, with an academic and their peers.

Placement year

A degree with a placement, will usually be 4 years long with a year working in an area

relevant to the field of study. These are sometimes known as ‘Sandwich courses’.

Students’ Union

An organisation which is found at UK universities. It is run by students, to support

and represent students during their time at the institution. They are the heart of student social

life and politics.

Study abroad

Universities will have partner organisations across the globe, allowing students to spend

a year or semester studying in a different country.


Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, the organisation which deals with the majority

of higher education applications.

Tariff points

UCAS has a tariff system, more commonly known as ‘UCAS points’. This allows

qualifications to be converted into points e.g. an A at A Level or equivalent is worth 48 points.

These are added together to give a total which can be used as a requirement for a course. For

example, a course may require a student to achieve 104 points.

Conditional offer

An offer from a university which requires a student to achieve certain grades.

Unconditional offer

An offer of a place on a course with no conditions – the place is theirs if the student wants it.

UCAS track

Students can log into UCAS track to check the progression of their offers as well as amend

any personal details.

UCAS extra

If a student finds themselves without an offer, UCAS extra enables them to have an additional

choice through UCAS.

Firm choice

An applicant’s preferred or first choice higher education institution on their UCAS application.

Insurance choice

An applicant’s back up or second choice higher education institution on their UCAS application; a reserve if they do not meet the requirements of their firm choice.


An opportunity for students to find a place on a course which still has available spaces if they

did not make their firm or insurance choice, or have decided to study a different subject or elsewhere. This usually takes place after students receive their results.


If students achieve higher grades than expected, they can ‘adjust’ their offer and do a course which requires more tariff points at a different institution.

bottom of page