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Choosing a course

When choosing a course, you must think about two things. Firstly, what level of course you are looking for and, secondly, what subjects you are interested in

Whatever type of course you are interested in studying, you will be able to find it in the UK. Colleges and universities offer many different subjects for study, from accountancy right through to zoology.

When deciding which course to apply for, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which subjects am I good at?
  • Which subjects am I interested in?
  • Which career might I like to pursue when I finish the course?
  • Studying which subject would help me get a foothold in this career?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have a shortlist of courses that interest you. Most subjects fall under one of these headings:


First-degree courses in science are usually taught. Postgraduate programmes, such as PhDs and MScs, are more often research-based.


This includes humanities and modern languages. Undergraduate programmes usually lead to BAs, with postgraduate students being awarded an MA or PhD following submission of a thesis.


Veterinary, medical and dentistry degrees are very popular. To get a place on a course you have to apply early and have good grades.

Teaching and education

Teachers in UK state schools must gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England or a Teaching Qualification (TQ) in Scotland. There are various routes to achieving this, for example in England you can take an undergraduate programme or a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) and in Scotland an undergraduate programme or a PGDE (Professional Graduate Diploma in Education) – depending on if you already hold a degree or not.


Many universities and colleges offer courses in law, including degrees and Common Professional Exam (CPE)/Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) programmes – these are conversion courses for those who wish to practice as a solicitor or barrister, but whose first degree is not in law.

Professional development

These courses can be offered on a part-time or distance-learning (sometimes online) basis so that they can be combined with work. They include such programmes as a diploma in human resource management or an MBA.

Pre-degree qualifications
GCSEs and equivalents
A-levels and equivalents   
Post A-level programmes

First and postgrad degrees
Undergraduate degrees
Postgraduate degrees
MBA degrees

Other types of courses
English language  
Career-based courses
Exchange programmes

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