What Is A Degree With Honours In The UK?

Photo of author
Written By Dr Shane McKeown

In the UK, most undergraduate courses in the UK are honours degrees, meaning that students need to complete a larger number of credits throughout their course than if they were doing an ordinary degree.

A degree with honours is a slightly more difficult version of a regular bachelor’s degree. The level of academic performance on a programme is indicated by the ‘class’ of degree or honours awarded.

The difference between an honours degree and a regular degree in the UK

There are four classes of honours degrees in the UK:

  • First-Class Honours,
  • Upper Second-Class Honours,
  • Lower Second-Class Honours, and
  • Third-Class Honours.

A first-class honours degree, usually referred to as a ‘first’ or 1st, is the highest honours degree achievable, while a third-class honours degree, known as a ‘third’ or 3rd, is the lowest honours degree achievable.

An upper second-class honours degree, known as a 2:1 or two-one, is the higher of the two levels of second-class degrees. If an honours student fails to achieve a third-class honours degree by a small margin, they may be awarded an ordinary degree, which is a degree without honours.

An ordinary degree may also be known as a pass or an unclassified degree.

The concept of degrees with honours has been around since medieval times when universities first began awarding them for exceptional academic achievements.

Today, they are awarded by most universities across the UK as part of their undergraduate programmes.

These qualifications typically indicate that a student has achieved an advanced level of knowledge or proficiency within their chosen field or discipline, and can be used to gain entry into postgraduate studies or secure employment opportunities.

How does the UK honours degree system compare to other countries?

The UK government provides an overseas degree equivalency table to support international applicants in making a judgment about the equivalent UK degree classification of an overseas degree.

You can view the most up-to-date guidance on the UK government website here.

How does the UK honours degree system compare to the US system?

You may have heard in movies that a US student ‘graduated with honours’.

This is a bit misleading, because in the US that simply means you cam top of your class. In the UK it is an actual formal qualification, rather than simply an indication of hard work or relative acheivement.

A Brief History Of Degree With Honours

Degree with honours is a long-standing tradition in the United Kingdom, offering recognition for excellence and academic prestige.

The concept of degree with honours was first introduced in British universities during the late 18th century. These degrees were conferred upon those students who had achieved exceptional scholastic results throughout their studies.

Today, many universities across the UK offer bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that include an honour component. Depending on the institution, these honors degrees may require additional coursework or exams to be completed successfully before they can be awarded.

As such, obtaining a degree with honours signifies hard work, dedication and perseverance among students – qualities highly valued by employers both nationally and internationally.

Types Of Honours Degrees

When discussing the types of honours degrees, it’s important to differentiate between the two most common types: undergraduate and postgraduate.

Undergraduate honours degrees are typically four years of full-time study, leading to a Bachelor of Arts or Science (BA or BSc).

Postgraduate honours degrees, on the other hand, usually require a prior degree and involve a year or more of additional study, leading to a Masters degree or Doctorate (MA or PhD).

Undergraduate Honours Degrees

We all have dreams of achieving a degree with honours, but what does it mean to earn one in the UK?

There are four different types of undergraduate honours degrees available in the UK – first class, upper second class, lower second class and third. Each classification has its own unique set of criteria that must be met before being awarded an honours degree.

Earning an honours degree can not only help you achieve your career goals, but also offer financial aid for those who need it. The higher the grade achieved on your final exams will determine which type of honours degree is earned.

For example, if you perform exceptionally well during your studies and receive a first-class result from your exam board then this would indicate you should be eligible for a first-class honours degree. Ultimately, having an honours degree provides students with greater career opportunities and improved job prospects upon graduation.

Consequently, planning ahead when pursuing such qualifications is essential to ensure success – both academically and financially!

Postgraduate Honours Degrees

Once you have successfully achieved an undergraduate honours degree, it’s time to think about furthering your education by pursuing a postgraduate degree. Achieving a postgraduate honours degree can significantly boost employability skills and open up new career opportunities.

Moreover, there are various sources of funding available for those interested in postgraduate study which can help make the process more manageable and affordable. The UK government offers several schemes that aid individuals with their studies such as Postgraduate Loan Schemes (PGLS) and Doctoral Student Loans (DSL). There are also numerous private institutions that provide financial support through scholarships or bursaries for students who demonstrate excellent academic performance.

With all these options available, obtaining a postgraduate honours degree is now within reach!

The Requirements For Obtaining An Honours Degree

Have you ever wondered what it takes to achieve an honours degree in the UK? Earning a degree with honours is no small feat and requires:

  • Dedication to completing coursework and assignments on time.
  • A commitment to meeting graduation criteria set by universities.
  • Meeting specific award criteria as laid out by individual institutions.

To qualify for an honour’s degree, students must demonstrate exceptional academic performance that goes above and beyond regular expectations. This means consistently achieving high marks throughout their studies – typically 80% or higher – as well excellent attendance records.

In addition, they are expected to participate in extracurricular activities such as student societies, charity work, sport, research initiatives etc., which can help boost their university application when applying for an honours degree. Furthermore, depending upon the institution, some courses may require additional commitments from students such as sitting particular exams or submitting supplementary essays/projects.

Ultimately, these requirements ensure that those who receive an honours degree have earned it through hard work and dedication over four years of study.

Benefits Of Earning A Degree With Honours

Now that the requirements for obtaining an honours degree have been outlined, it is important to discuss some of the benefits associated with such a qualification. Earning a degree with honours can open up many doors for students in terms of job prospects and scholarship opportunities.

BenefitsDescriptionImpact on Audience’s Subconscious Desire For Freedom
Job ProspectsA degree with honours will make candidates more attractive to potential employers.They will feel empowered knowing they possess the necessary skills and qualifications to pursue their chosen career path.
Scholarship OpportunitiesAn honours degree may qualify individuals for various scholarships or research grants which can help finance further study.It provides them with access to resources which would otherwise not be available, potentially enabling them to live life free from financial constraints.

The most significant benefit of earning a degree with honours is that it allows individuals to demonstrate their hard work and dedication in order to stand out from other applicants. This could prove invaluable when applying for higher level positions or specialist roles as employers are likely to favour those who have achieved academic excellence over those who simply meet the minimum criteria. By having this distinction, students will gain an edge over their competitors and boost their chances of success in the future.

Earning a degree with honours is therefore highly advantageous for any student wishing to excel in their field of expertise or secure employment in their desired profession. With its range of benefits both academically and professionally, it’s no wonder why so many people choose to pursue such a prestigious qualification!

Common Career Paths After An Honours Degree

The path of an honours degree is a journey that unlocks doors and offers the opportunity to explore new avenues. It is like unlocking a gate, with possibilities beckoning from beyond its boundaries. The future can be shaped by career planning and targeted job searches – but only when armed with an Honours degree.

For many, attaining an Honours Degree provides access to higher-level roles in their chosen field or even opens up potential for further study at graduate level. With the right qualifications comes responsibility; graduates are often required to take on more complex projects, lead teams and manage workloads efficiently — all skills which employers value highly.

In addition, those who have graduated with honours may also find positions within the public sector, such as government offices or charities, where they can use their expertise to benefit others.

Some common career paths after earning an honours degree include:

  • Business
  • Management Consulting
  • Investment Banking
  • Accounting & Finance
  • Law
  • Legal Practice (e.g., Advocate/Solicitor)
  • Corporate Lawyer
  • Human Rights Practitioner

With these options come opportunities for professional growth and development along the way; learning how best to approach challenging tasks while taking into account ethical considerations, understanding legal frameworks and developing business acumen are just some of the areas honours students may become experts in over time.

For example, having knowledge of corporate law will help graduates understand both domestic regulations as well as international trading agreements if looking towards global markets or working in multinational companies. This type of education prepares them not only for current jobs but also helps equip individuals for whatever challenges lie ahead down the road.

Finding The Right Honours Degree Program

Now that you have identified the career path you wish to pursue, it is time to find the right Honours degree program.

Applying for a programme can be an intimidating experience as there are often many requirements and an interview process that must be completed in order to gain acceptance. It is important to research different programmes thoroughly before committing to one; this will ensure that your chosen course of study aligns with your goals.

To make sure you get accepted into a good Honours degree programme, create a strong application package by ensuring all documents (e.g., transcripts, references) are up-to-date and accurate.

Make sure your personal statement reflects who you are and why you would excel in the program. When preparing for interviews, practice answering questions related to your prior education and experiences as well as any potential projects or ideas related to your course of study.

Finally, take advantage of any resources available at universities such as mentorship programs which can provide invaluable guidance throughout the process. With proper preparation and dedication, finding the perfect Honours degree program should become much easier!


Overall, earning a degree with honours in the UK is an impressive feat and can open up many doors. It requires dedication and hard work to meet the stringent requirements of obtaining one.

Those who are successful will benefit from increased job opportunities, as well as better pay and greater recognition for their achievements. With so much potential available, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of students choose to pursue this path and make their mark on the world.

By taking the time to research different programs and find what works best for them, anyone has the chance to earn a degree with honours in the UK and set themselves apart from others striving for success.

Leave a comment