Foundation Degree (FdA)
A Foundation Degree (also known as an FdA) is a combined academic and vocational qualification in higher education in the UK, equivalent to two-thirds of an honours Bachelor's Degree, a Higher National Diploma (HND) and Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE). It was introduced by the Department for Education and Employment in 2000.
Foundation Degree courses focus on developing in-demand technical skills for a particular job or profession, and therefore steer candidates towards employment by empowering them with work-ready skills. They are also excellent preparation for those looking to study a full undergraduate qualification further down the line.
If you choose to study the qualification full time, it will typically take you two years to complete. The part time route usually lasts for around four years and is a much more practical option if you already work to support yourself or have kids.
Popular foundation degree subject fields, according to HESA's Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education data, include:
- academic studies in education
- others in subjects allied to medicine
- social work
- sport and exercise science
- hospitality, leisure, sport, tourism and transport
- business studies
- animal science
- management studies
- design studies
Foundation Degrees still need plenty of enthusiasm, commitment and prowess. Remember - you’ll be paving the way for your next steps.
Higher National Certificate and Diploma (HNC / HND)
HNCs and HNDs focus on 'learning by doing' - they give you skills that you can use in a particular job. They are highly valued by employers and can also count towards the membership of professional bodies and other employer organisations.
Both qualifications are provided by further and higher education colleges. HNCs take about one year to complete full-time and two years part-time. HNDs take two years full-time and can also be taken part-time, which obviously takes longer. It’s also the same as doing the second year of a university degree, so it’s often used as a stepping-stone to a full degree.
HNCs and HNDs are available in a wide range of subject areas, including:
- computing and IT
- construction and civil engineering
- health and social care
- business and management
- sport and exercise sciences
- performing arts
- retail and distribution
- hospitality management
Bachelor’s Degree (BA / Bed / BSc / LLB)
A Bachelor’s Degree is the one you’ll have heard the most about, and certainly the most common. They are the most popular and common undergraduate route into higher education.
Bachelor's degrees give you an in-depth knowledge and understanding of your chosen field and they usually take 3 or 4 years to complete, depending on your subject and the possibility of having a year in industry. Your learning will take place during lectures with various lecturers, and seminars with assigned tutors, and sometimes in practical labs, or on site, depending on the course. Your degree will be assessed by a mix of exams, assignments and projects and presentations, or even performances in the arts.
Bachelor’s degrees are also known as undergraduate or honours degrees, and sometimes you’ll be offered the chance to study abroad or work in the industry you’re learning about, which is a fantastic opportunity to get a step through the door. We would well advise that you research this as an option in your chosen field should you want to get a Bachelor’s Degree of any sort.
There are literally thousands of Bachelor’s Degree types in the UK. The types of degrees have different award titles, depending on the subject. Let’s take a look at them now:
- BA = Bachelor of Arts.
These are courses that are focused on the humanities - for example, English Literature, Education, History or Theology. So, you could do a BASoc (Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, or a BATheol (Bachelor of Arts in Theology) - does that make sense?
- BEd = Bachelor of Education
These are degree courses that train you to become a teacher. - so you will complete your PGCE or PCET as part of your degree. These often last four years and will include a teaching placement.
- BSc = Bachelor of Science
This could include anything from engineering and dentistry to agriculture and medicine.
- LLB = Bachelor of Laws
If you want to become a lawyer or work within law, this is the preferred option.
Master’s Degree (MA / MSc / MRes / MPhil / MBA / LLM )
A Master’s Degree is the most common type of postgraduate qualification, and they are basically an extension of your undergraduate study, just in more detail.
A Master’s Degree usually lasts one year full-time or two years if you study part-time.
The different types of degrees at the Master’s level include:
- MA = Master of Art
These include arts and humanities subjects like journalism, history, geography and music.
- MS or MSc = Master of Science
This option would see you studying subjects like biology, health, chemistry.
- MRes = Master of Research
This route is for people who want to pursue a career in research, or who want to go on to apply for a PhD.
- MPhil = Master of Philosophy
This is another type of research degree often taken before doing a PhD.
- MBA = Master of Business Administration
This is a master’s degree in business.
- LLM = Master of Laws
A master's degree in law, studied by those who already have an LLB. In some countries, you need an LLM to practice law - in the UK, you only need an LLB.
A doctorate or doctoral degree is the highest type of degree awarded by a university, and it includes various types of degree. The idea behind a doctorate is to become the highest type of expert in your field - therefore a doctor of your subject.
This type of study often lasts minimum four years, and will involve in-depth research and for you to undertake either some lecturing duties and/or a huge thesis. Effectively, you’ll write a book on your chosen topic.
Different types of doctorates include (this is not an exhaustive list):
- PhD = Doctor of Philosophy
This is probably the most well-known type of doctorate, and has an academic focus. Philosophy doesn’t just mean “philosophy” either by the way - this term covers most subjects.
- EdD = Doctor of Education
An EdD is held by experts in education.
- EngD = Doctor of Engineering
This is held by professional engineers who have studied to a very high level.
- DClinPsy = Doctor of Clinical Psychology
The sort of doctorate held by someone working as a clinical psychologist in a hospital.
So, there you go!
There are lots of different types of degrees to choose from depending on your taste, circumstances and plans for the future.
Think wisely about your pathway to your goal before you make any decisions.
Best of luck, and we hope this helped inform you.