The United Kingdom is home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world. Among the top 10 ranked universities of 2017, the UK has 3 spots all to itself. From the prestigious Oxford and Cambridge to the dozens of other institutions, the UK presents an international student with a sweet nightmare of choices. With so many options to take from, it is also very important to keep in mind that the UK has among the top 6 educational systems in the world, even ranked higher than that of the United States!

As an international student, however, it is not the name of the institution alone that should determine your eventual choice. The area of specialization also matters of a particular institution. From the 120 Universities and colleges in the UK, some are more focus on certain fields of endeavour than others. For example, the University of Aberdeen is world famous for its Science and Engineering courses, Bournemouth University is one of the greatest centres for arts and film studies. There are a whopping 50,000 undergraduate programs that are waiting for you, and in this piece, we will take a bit of time to make this gigantic list of options a little more discernable

Foundation Courses

Foundation programs or courses are specifically designed to tune-in international students from countries with non-British style curriculum to their new surroundings. The program which is meant for high school leavers is geared towards preparing them for admission into the British tertiary institution system. The foundation course will bridge any gap there might be from the international student’s present qualification to meet the UK’s University entry requirement.  Any English language deficiency, as well as other academic qualifications, are treated within a year of the foundation courses.

Undergraduate Programmes

The Undergraduate program is the main program of study that is preceded by the foundation courses. For the UK it typically consists of lectures of different modules, workshops and seminars over the period of 3 years in most cases. Others can last up to 4 years depending on the complexity of the courses, at the end of which the student is awarded a bachelor’s degree if successful.

The 4-year undergraduate programs usually consist of larger modules that require the student to split their time between two courses and on completing them, they are awarded dual honours in both courses. And for the undergraduate programs that last less than the standard 3 years, they are usually certificate and diploma programs. Like the Certificate for Higher Education which takes 2 years to complete on the part-time basis, and  Diploma of Higher Education (DIPHE) which typically lasts one year to complete on full-time and two years for part-time studies.

Pre-Masters Courses

International students that have already acquired the first degree in their home countries are also groomed for post-graduate studies in the UK using the pre-masters courses. Like the foundation courses, it is designed to help the master’s student plug any holes and cover any deficiencies and bring them up to speed with what the program before them will require. Areas of focus on pre-masters courses include improving the student's research and presentation skills, polish their English speaking and writing skills and raise their level of qualification to meet UK Masters program requirements

Masters Degree

This is the second-degree stage that comes after a student’s Bachelor’s Degree and the Pre-Masters courses as the case may apply to the student. Masters program students are also expected to attend weekly lectures, tutorials and seminars, just like undergraduate students. Assessments are through standard exams, dissertations and projects. However, Masters Degrees tend to be shorter in duration than first degrees as most range from a period of 1 to 2 years for full-time studies. Masters programs are mainly categorized into 4; Masters of Engineering (M Eng), Masters of Science (MSc), Masters of Arts (MA) and of course Masters of Business Administration (MBA).

Research Masters

A research masters program is unlike the standard master's degree as it is mainly focused on a thesis. This is a research-centered academic project that a student undertakes under competent academic supervision. A research degree can take from 3 to 4 years to complete with the end product being a 60,000 to 100,000-word thesis document of their findings. A PhD is the most common research degree, but there are other variations which are Masters of Philosophy (MPhil), Masters of Research (MRes) and the Professional Doctorate

The main differentiating factor between the three is that Masters of Philosophy program which takes a maximum period of 18 months to complete on the full-time basis is sometimes a requirement before a student is allowed entry to PhD programs, although it can also be pursued as a standalone qualification. As for Masters of Research programs, they are the main postgraduate programs for areas of social sciences, arts and humanities. They also require a thesis of up to 40,000 words written to complete them. Professional doctorates on the extreme end are meant for mainly boosting ones professional qualification rather than for research purposes. Examples of professional doctorates include doctorates in Engineering, Law, and Medicine

Specialties

As earlier stated, it is important for the international student to make an educated choice when choosing their eventual university of study according to their prospective program. Some Universities are known to run better programs in certain fields better than others. For example, the best Engineering programs are run by the Universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leicester, Bath and Aberdeen. For those pursuing Architectural courses, Glasgow school of art, Hereford College of arts, and Coventry University are the most logical choices.

When it comes to the area of law, there is no choice better than Oxford University, with others such as the University of Central Lancashire, Cranfield School of Management, Henley Business School and the University of Glasgow closely following. As for the financial sector, London Business School is the go-to place worldwide, with Cambridge University, University of Manchester, Warwick University and the University of West Scotland also setting illustrious examples. While protégés of the arts have several options from the Royal Academy of Music, London film school and Leeds College of Music to name a few.