Degrees are academic courses studied at university – a bachelor's degree or master's degree. For school leavers, the most relevant degree to be aware of is the bachelor’s degree, which can be taken in hundreds of subjects.
Depending on the subject, degrees combine contact time – lectures and seminars, or laboratory time for sciences, studio time for arts and design – along with coursework and exams. This can range from just a few hours of contact time a week for, say, degrees like English Literature, to 45 hours a week for those taking Chemistry degrees, who might work full-time hours in the laboratory.
When deciding what degree to study, prospective students have a massive variety to choose from. University degrees range from traditional academic ones such as History, English Literature and Geography, to the sciences, to newer subjects like Digital and Social Media.
Depending on the degree subject and where the university is, bachelor’s degrees usually last between three and four years. There are slight variations on degrees in the UK: at English universities, a standard honours degree requires three years of study, while at Scottish universities a standard honours degree requires four years of study.
Although the total time graduates of both systems spend in primary, secondary and higher education is usually the same, typical English graduates spend one year more at secondary school and one year less at university than Scottish graduates.
In recent years, university degrees have become steadily more popular, despite the accompanying increase in cost. As such, degrees have become more commonplace: 60% of the working population in London holds a degree, 41% of the working population of Scotland holds a degree, and in other parts of the UK it tends to be about 30-40%.
So if you’re asking yourself “What degree should I do?” or even “Should I do a degree?” check out the advice articles in this section to learn more about degrees and what they can do for your career.