• There are no fewer than 165 universities in the UK.
  • London's transport network is one of the oldest and largest in the world. There are 272 functioning stations on the London Underground and 450 escalators.
  • The UK is famous for great writers (like William Shakespeare), ancient landmarks and delicious pub food. 

Education system in the UK

The UK offers two types of higher education: universities (which award both undergrad and postgrad degrees) and further education institutions or colleges (which award vocational diplomas or provide complete courses leading to recognised UK degrees).

Undergraduate degrees in the UK last three years instead of the usual time of four years. Scotland is the exception where degrees take four years. The UK also offers “sandwich courses” which last four years and contain a placement year. While England is known for top-tier universities, you do not need to go to one of the top 10 ranked universities for a respectable education as top quality education is accessible in all UK universities. The UK university year runs from September to June of the following year.

Postgraduate studies in the UK

The UK is world renowned for its academic excellence and is the global leader in quality of research. UK universities offer a large variety of postgraduate-level courses, from the arts and sciences to business and engineering.


If you don’t meet the academic or English language requirement to enter into a master’s degree, then a pre-master’s course can bridge that gap. Another reason you could have for doing a pre-masters course is if you realise that your bachelor’s degree is vastly different from what is required for your future academic goals or career plans.

Pre-masters can come in the form of a specific programme or postgraduate diplomas and certificates. Pre-masters in the UK can last anywhere from 10 weeks to 12 months depending on the course of study.


A popular postgraduate option, a master’s degree enables you to study an area of interest in more depth and in some cases can improve your chances of securing a job.  Master’s programmes in the UK are shorter than most other countries, typically lasting one year.

Some common master’s degrees include:

  • MA (Master of Arts) in a wide range of arts or humanities subjects.
  • MSc (Master of Science). A range of subject-specific qualifications including MEng (Master of Engineering), MFA (Master of Fine Arts), LLM (Master of Laws), March (Master of Architecture), and more.
  • Courses leading to an MPhil (Master of Philosophy) qualification are research-led and often designed for students to progress to a PhD.

An important note: Some Scottish universities offer an undergraduate degree called a Scottish Masters of Arts which is completed over three or four years. This shouldn’t be confused with a postgraduate master’s.


A PhD is the highest level of degree a student can attain – it demonstrates that you've made a meaningful new contribution to your chosen research field. This degree typically involves students independently conducting original and significant research in a specific field or subject, before producing a publication-worthy thesis.

While some Doctorates include taught components, PhD students are assessed on the quality and originality of the argument presented in their independent research project. Full-time PhDs typically last for three or four years, while it could take you between six to seven years if you are doing it part-time.

Why study in the UK

Great research opportunities

The UK’s academic research productivity is 3.6 times higher than the world average. If you decide to continue to postgrad, you will work with some of the best minds at leading institutions which, in the past, have held honours such as producing 15.2% of the most-cited articles.

Excellent work opportunities

The UK Student visa allows you to work for up to 20 hours per week in the school term and full-time during the vacation periods. You may apply for the post-study Graduate Visa to remain in the UK for up to three years (depending on your level of study) while you search for work.

Shorter courses

The UK has shorter, more intensive courses than the rest of the world, with courses giving you an undergraduate degree and honours within three years. This means you can save time and money while also being workforce ready in a shorter time.

High quality education

The UK has a well-earned reputation for excellence when it comes to higher education. UK universities are held to strict standards by the government and have to pass a number of requirements before they're able to award degrees.

Cost of studying in the UK

The average cost of studying in the UK ranges between £9,000 and £25,000 (around £45,000 for medicine) per academic year.

When you apply for your visa, you will need to demonstrate that you have at enough money to support yourself while studying. This is currently:

  • £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London and,
  • £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London

It’s important to note that tuition and accommodation fees will depend on your location, and your university and course choice may further impact your tuition fees.

Student visas for the UK

The UK Student visa is a points-based visa that requires at least 70 points for you to be eligible. The points are awarded for:

  • Confirmation of acceptance from an approved UK educational institution
  • Proof of funds to pay for both your course and to support yourself
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • Parental consent if you are 16 or 17 years old

You will also need to:

  • Pay the immigration healthcare surcharge
  • Submit a tuberculosis test if you are from a country which requires one to enter the UK
  • Provide additional documentation depending on your circumstances

Health insurance

For courses longer than six months, you will need to pay the NHS immigration health surcharge of £470 per year of your visa. This allows you to use the UK’s National Health Services (NHS) while you study.

We'll help you apply for admission and your visa

Working in the UK (as a student)

If you are studying full-time course at a degree level or above in the UK as an international student, you’re allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time during holiday breaks.

Post-study opportunities in the UK

The UK has a Graduate visa route which allows university and college graduates to search for work for up to two years (three years for doctorate graduates) and remain in the UK. While you do not need to be employed during that time, you may do any kind of work and there are no salary requirements or number caps. The Graduate visa helps build your work experience after studying. Thereafter, you may be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa, which may lead to indefinite leave to remain and eventually British citizenship.

What Study Abroad can do for you


Accredited members of ICEF

As the official, direct, in-country representative for our university partners, we continually train to ensure we are up to date with the correct procedures for each country and educational institute. We're proud to be accredited members of the ICEF, and confident in the exceptional service offered by all our study advisers.

Get in touch

Fill in your details below and one of our expert advisers will be in touch as soon as they are able.