What can you study?

There are thousands of higher education (HE) courses offered by universities, colleges and institutes of higher education in the UK and overseas - and plenty in Norfolk if you want to stay at home while you study. You will need to think carefully about the subject, course and places you want to apply for.

Higher education doesn't just mean getting an honours degree - you could study a Foundation Degree, a Higher National Certificate or Diploma (HNC or HND) or a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE).  To find out more see UCAS' information on types of courses available at higher education level.

Visit UCAS to browse the range of courses offered across the UK. Also look at the GOV.UK Higher Education pages.

Choosing a course

With over 37,000 higher education courses at more than 370 universities and colleges in the UK, you need to do your research carefully to find the right course and place to study. You will need to take lots of things into consideration.

You could decide to:

  • carry on with subject(s) you are already studying
  • start a new subject or combination of subjects
  • take a vocational course linked to an occupational area such as travel and tourism or art and design
  • study a course to train for a particular career such as medicine, pharmacy, architecture or physiotherapy

About the courses

Bachelor's or first degrees

Usually known as bachelors, undergraduate or first degrees. These usually take three or four years of full-time study to complete, although some (eg medicine) take longer. Part-time study over a number of years is also possible.

Degrees may be offered as single honours (study of a single subject), joint honours (study of two subjects, 50/50) or a major/minor (75/25) or combined honours (two or more subjects studied).

Sandwich courses combine study with paid work placements usually offered in subjects such as engineering, construction and business.

Foundation degrees

These are work related and designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge employers need for higher-level technician or associate professional posts.

Designed and developed directly with employers, they are available full-time over two years, or part-time, through work-based study or distance learning. With extra study, you can upgrade to a full honours degree.

Higher National Certificates & Diplomas (HNCs/HNDs)

These are vocational qualifications offered by universities and colleges. They are available in a range of subjects and an HND may offer you progression to the final year of a related degree.

Diplomas of Higher Education (Dip HE) These are two year, full-time courses equivalent to the first two years of a degree. They are linked to a vocational area such as health and social care, accounting, technology etc and, with extra study can be topped up to a full degree.

Research your ideas and make your plans

  • Make sure you start early - ideally in the first year of your course.
  • Give yourself plenty of time - you may need to look at lots of different courses and institutions before making your final choices.
  • Check information on entry requirements for the courses and places you're interested in - are they realistic for you?
  • Attend open days - this helps you to get a feel for the place and gives you a chance to talk to current students.
  • Enrol on a taster course - many universities and colleges offer short taster courses to give you an experience of academic life.
  • Get some work experience - some courses require you to have some relevant work experience (eg medicine, veterinary science).

Remember - a course at one university can be completely different at another, even though it may have the same course name.


To help with choosing a course, try...