Student Life

Study Levels

Levels of Higher Education

“Higher Education” (HE) refers to studies which are at Level 4 or above. This is likely to be an unfamiliar way of thinking about your studies, it makes sense when you think that we can’t talk about “first year” or “second year” in a meaningful way because we have part-time students, who study an HE programme over double the amount of time a full-time student would take. A Foundation degree is usually two years, but if it’s studied part-time, it is done over four years. Part-time students are often those who are also working, or who have family commitments alongside their studies.

What do "levels" mean?

There are significant differences in the level of understanding you can expect to achieve as you work your way through your programme, and this is the same whatever subject you are studying. Instead of “first year”, we talk about “Level 4”, so that we can accurately describe the expectations of students regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time.

Level 4

Level 4 is typically the first year of a full-time degree course. Level 4 describes the studies you need to undertake to gain a good solid understanding of your subject. It is the basis for everything that follows.

Level 5

Level 5 is typically the second year of a full-time degree course. Level 5 is where students begin to develop “critical thinking” abilities, so that you are able to begin to analyse what you are studying and question and challenge the ideas you come across.  If you study on a Foundation degree programme, you can complete your studies at Level 5 and leave with a good qualification, or you may choose to go on to Level 6.  

Level 5

Level 6 is the point in your studies where you begin to be able to apply your critical and analytical understanding in a systematic way; this enables you to achieve a full “Bachelor’s” degree, BA (Hons) or BSc (Hons).