British Undergraduate Degree Classification - Degree Classification

Degree Classification

A degree may be awarded with or without honours, with the class of an honours degree based on a weighted average mark of the assessed work a candidate has completed. Below is a list of the possible classifications with common abbreviations. Honours degrees are in bold.

  • First class honours (1st)
  • Second class honours, upper division (2:1)
  • Second class honours, lower division (2:2)
  • Third class honours (3rd)
  • Ordinary degree (Pass)

At most institutions the system allows a small amount of discretion and a candidate may be elevated to the next degree class if their average marks are close to, or the median of their weighted marks achieves the higher class and they have submitted many pieces of work worthy of the higher class. However, they may be demoted a class if they fail to pass all parts of the course even if they have a high average.

There are also variations between universities (especially in Scotland, where honours are usually reserved only for courses lasting four years or more, with a three-year course leading to the awarding of an Ordinary degree; see Master of Arts (Scotland)) and achievements other than the average mark are often needed to be awarded honours. (In Scotland it is possible to start University a year younger than in the rest of the United Kingdom as the Scottish Highers exams are often taken at age 17, not 18, so four-year courses end at the same age as a three-year course elsewhere in the UK, assuming no gap years.)

When a candidate is awarded a degree with honours, "(Hons)" may be suffixed to their designatory letters, e.g. BA (Hons), BSc (Hons), MA (Hons). An MA (Hons) would generally indicate a degree award from certain Scottish universities. However, honours are awarded when 360 tariff points are achieved (typically 6 modules at 20 credits each per year), with a non honours degree requiring at least 300 tariff points.

At Oxford and Cambridge, honours classes apply to examinations, not to degrees. Thus, in Cambridge, where undergraduates are examined at the end of each part (one- or two-year section) of the tripos, a student may receive different classifications for different parts. The degree itself does not formally have a class. Most Cambridge graduates use the class of the final part as the class of the degree, but this is an informal usage. At Oxford, where examinations are split between Honour Moderations or Prelims in the first part, and the Final Honour School in the second, it is the results of the Final Honour School results that are generally applied to the degree.

At some universities, candidates who successfully complete one or more years of degree-level study, but do not complete the full degree course, may be awarded a lower qualification: a Certificate of Higher Education or Higher National Certificate for one year of study, or a Diploma of Higher Education or Higher National Diploma for two years.

The Graduateship (post-nominal GCGI) and Associateship (post-nominal ACGI) awarded by the City & Guilds of London Institute are mapped to a British Honours degree.

The Engineering Council Graduate Diploma is set at the same level as the final year of a British BEng.

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