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Types of bachelor’s degrees: the complete guide

Learn about the different undergraduate degree options available to you, and find out how to get a bachelor’s degree in this handy guide.

Student graduating

Interested in getting a degree but don’t know your bachelor’s from your master’s? Or you’re not quite sure which subjects you can study at undergraduate level? We’re here to offer some guidance and support, so you know what you’re getting into when applying for a bachelor’s degree.

Plus, have you ever considered studying for your degree online? Turns out, it’s easier than ever to become a graduate from the comfort of home, opening up endless new possibilities for your career. We’ll explore all of the online bachelor’s degree options on FutureLearn further down in this article.

What is a bachelor’s degree?

A bachelor’s degree is a kind of academic award given to students by universities and other higher education institutions to prove their knowledge and training in a subject (or two), normally at foundation level. They aim to provide students with a solid basis and understanding of their degree subject, so they can either get a job in a related field, or seek further study in that specialism.

Those studying for a bachelor’s degree are undergraduates, meaning that they haven’t got any other kind of degree yet. Undergraduate students tend to have recently finished further education, including the completion of qualifications such as A-levels, a diploma or an apprenticeship.This often means they are around 18-20 years old, but this is increasingly not always the case. Especially when it comes to online degrees, students can embark on a bachelor’s degree at any age.

Bachelor’s degrees are three years long on average, but they are also frequently four years to include a placement year or studying abroad. Certain subjects may require further years of study, but normally they won’t be longer than four years if you study full-time.

Online Degree

BA (Hons) Business Management

  • 3+ years
  • undergraduate
  • Flexible Learning
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What level is a bachelor’s degree?

In the UK, bachelor’s degrees are classed as higher education or level 6 qualifications. This level is decided by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF). Other examples of level 6 qualifications include graduate certificates and degree apprenticeships. In Scotland, however, bachelor’s degrees are actually level 9 or 10.

Types of bachelor’s degrees

You’ve probably already heard of BA and BSc degrees, but what about any others? There are actually several more types of bachelor’s degrees in the UK, catering to different academic interests and career paths. Take a look below to find out more.

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

If you feel an affinity for the arts, humanities and social sciences, you’ll most likely want to get a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. Popular BA subjects include English, history, philosophy and languages, and it’s quite common for students to choose a double major, where the two subjects complement each other. For example, BA English and Drama. 

One of the main goals of a BA program is to encourage critical thinking, analysis of different theories and sources, and creative interpretation. There is often a great deal of writing involved, in the form of exams, essays and other coursework. 

Something else to note – Bachelor of Arts degrees tend to have fewer contact hours than other bachelor programs. Instead, there is plenty of time for independent study and reading, so BA students have to be passionate and organised when it comes to their subject.

Bachelor of Science (BSc)

The other most popular type of bachelor’s degree, a Bachelor of Science (BSc) is geared towards natural and applied sciences. BSc subjects typically include biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, and engineering, and as a result, they tend to have a more technical and practical focus.

Prioritising scientific methods, practical experiments and research, BSc programs usually require more contact hours at university, including lectures, seminars and labs (depending on the subject and institution).

The more practical nature of BSc degrees means that students gain skills and knowledge that may directly help them in their careers, as long as they work within their degree specialism. This is a bit different to BA degrees, which offer more of a critical approach to seeing and thinking about the world, which can be applied to many different careers.

Online Degree

BSc (Hons) Project Management

  • 3+ years
  • undergraduate
  • Flexible Learning
Apply now

Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB)

When medical students in the UK embark on their training, they first get a degree. This is a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, which can be abbreviated using a range of letters, but most commonly MBChB or MBBS. 

It’s the main undergraduate degree awarded by medical schools, enabling medical students to start practising as doctors. Naturally then, an MBChB focuses on the initial stages of medical training, including human biology, medical sciences and clinical practice, and takes between four and six years altogether.

Bachelor of Education (BEd)

Unsurprisingly from the name, a Bachelor of Education (BEd) is designed for students hoping to become teachers. The first thing you may be thinking is – what makes a BEd different from a PGCE? Well, both qualifications will lead to students achieving Qualified Teaching Status (QTS), but they are different routes. 

While students normally complete a BA or BSc in a specific subject before taking a PGCE, a BEd is a four year program that focuses on broader educational theory and teaching methods, as well as going into specific subjects. 

So, the route you go down might partially depend on how sure you are about pursuing teaching – if you’re not 100% decided, it might be safer to start with a broader degree in a subject you’re passionate about, and then apply for a PGCE.

Bachelor of Engineering (BEng)

For aspiring engineers, a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) is an undergraduate degree covering disciplines including civil, mechanical and electrical engineering. The actual content you’ll learn, and your future career prospects, will be similar to a BSc of Engineering.

However, the main difference is that BEng degrees have to be accredited by an official engineering body, and tend to be a bit more specialised. They also often include industry placements, so they’re perfect for students who are confident in their aspirations to become an engineer.

Bachelor of Laws (LLB)

The most popular route to becoming a barrister or solicitor in the UK, a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) is an undergraduate law degree.There are seven core modules taught in this degree, including constitutional law, contract law, and criminal law.

But what’s the difference between an LLB and a BA in Law? A Bachelor of Laws is actually the only qualifying undergraduate degree in law, meaning students can go on to practise law without taking a law conversion course first. So, while not necessarily being better than a BA in Law, an LLB is the most direct route.

Types of online bachelor’s degrees

For some students, a large part of the appeal of university is studying on a traditional campus where they can socialise, go to parties and gain independence for the first time. 

However, this is certainly not the case for everyone, and the rise of digital education has offered a new-found freedom and flexibility for aspiring students who need to balance university with other life commitments, including work and family.

That’s where online degrees come in, offering the convenience of studying anywhere, anytime, while maintaining the same academic standards as on-campus programs. On FutureLearn, we have a great selection of bachelor’s degrees from prestigious global universities – take a look below.

Online BA degrees on FutureLearn

Online BSc degrees on FutureLearn

Choosing the right bachelor’s degree

Not sure which bachelor’s degree is right for you? It’s important to make sure you do your research before investing your time, money and effort into a 3-4 year program. Have a think about your passions, strengths, and aspirations for your future.

If you’re pretty set on a certain career path, you might take a more specific bachelor’s degree like the BEd or LLB. However, you’ll leave yourself more open to different career opportunities if you go with a BA or BSc, so it depends how decisive you are. 

Taking an online short course in a subject might also be a good idea before you decide on a bachelor’s degree, so that you know you enjoy your subject of choice. What have you got to lose?

How to get a bachelor’s degree

Before you get too excited about a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to apply for one and get in first. You usually apply for bachelor’s degrees through UCAS, where you choose several universities in order of how much you’d like to study there. When it comes to our online degrees, however, you can start your journey simply by requesting more information on the degree page.

Below, we talk a bit about the entry requirements and how you’ll be assessed on your degree.

Entry requirements

  • Academic qualifications. You’ll usually need level 3 qualifications such as A-levels, Scottish Highers, or a BTEC, though different universities set different grade requirements. Generally, the more prestigious the institution, the higher the grades.
  • Personal statement. When applying for your degree through UCAS, you’ll normally need to write a personal statement detailing why you’re suitable for your subject.
  • Admissions test or interview. This is not commonplace for UK bachelor’s degrees, but can be required for certain subjects (like medicine) and certain institutions (like Oxford and Cambridge).

Assessment and results

Bachelor’s degrees tend to involve a range of study methods, including lectures, seminars and labs, and a range of assessment methods, including exams, essays and group projects. It’s common for students to complete a dissertation or project in a specialist subject of their choice in the final year.

When you graduate, you’ll receive a degree classification based on how well you performed. While a first class degree is the most sought after, a 2:1 is the most common result, and 2:2 degrees are still widely accepted by employers. The classifications are detailed below.

  • First-Class Honours (1st): 70% and above
  • Upper Second-Class Honours (2:1): 60-70%)
  • Lower Second-Class Honours (2:2): 50-60%
  • Third-Class Honours (3rd): 40-50%

Final thoughts

So, is it worth getting a bachelor’s degree? The choice is up to you, but if you’re looking to reach a significant academic milestone that might help you land a career of your choice, it’s definitely worth looking into. 

Especially with the added flexibility of online degrees today, you can find a bachelor’s degree that aligns with your current lifestyle, as well as your interests and aspirations. Check out our full selection of online degrees to start paving the way.

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