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Study options at UCL


UCL offers several different types of study programme, from one-year foundation courses to four year research degrees. It is important that you choose a programme of study that is appropriate to your interests and to your academic level. Below you will find explanations of the different programmes on offer at UCL in order to help you make your choice.

To make an application, please see the information on the How to apply page.

Foundation courses / preparatory certificates

Foundation courses are pre-undergraduate programmes designed for students who do not have the qualifications necessary for direct entry to an undergraduate degree. 

The programme typically lasts one year and students who are successful in completing the course can progress to a suitable degree programme either at UCL or another institution. The foundation course at UCL is called a University Preparatory Certificate (UPC) and is broken down in to the following two categories:

UPCH (University Preparatory Certificate for the Humanities) A foundation course for social sciences and the humanities which is suitable for students who would like to study this area at degree level. 

UPCSE (University Preparatory Certificate for Science and Engineering) A foundation course in science and engineering that is suitable for students who would like to study this area at degree level.

UCL gurantees an offer of an undergraduate place to UPC students predicted to meet the entry requirements for 90 different undergraduate programmes in the UCL Faculties of Engineering Sciences, Life Sciences and Mathematical and Physical Sciences:

Astrophysics BSc / MSci
Biochemical Engineering BEng / MEng
Biochemistry BSc
Biological Sciences BSc / MSci
Biomedical Engineering BEng / MEng
Biomedical Sciences BSc
Bioprocessing of New Medicines
(Business and Management) BSc
Bioprocessing of New Medicines
(Science and Engineering) BSc
Biotechnology BSc
Chemical Engineering BEng / MEng
Chemical Physics BSc / MSci
Chemistry (International Programme) MSci
Chemistry BSc / MSci
Chemistry with a European
Language BSc / MSci
Chemistry with Management
Studies BSc / MSci
Chemistry with Mathematics BSc / MSci
Civil Engineering BEng / MEng
Computer Science BSc / MEng
Earth Sciences (International
Programme) MSci
Earth Sciences BSc / MSci
Economics and Statistics BSc (Econ)
Electronic and Electrical
Engineering BEng / MEng
Engineering with Business
Finance BEng / MEng
Environmental Engineering BEng / MEng
Environmental Geoscience BSc / MSci
Geology BSc / MSci
Geophysics BSc / MSci
History and Philosophy of Science BSc
Human Sciences BSc
Information Management for
Business BSc / MSci
Management Science BSc / MSci
Mathematical Computation MEng
Mathematics and Physics BSc / MSci
Mathematics and Statistical
Science BSc / MSci
Mathematics BSc / MSci
Mathematics with Economics BSc / MSci
Mathematics with Management
Studies BSc / MSci
Mathematics with Mathematical
Physics BSc / MSci
Mathematics with Modern
Languages BSc / MSci
Mechanical Engineering BEng / MEng
Medical Physics MSci
Medicinal Chemistry BSc / MSci
Natural Sciences BSc / MSci
Neuroscience BSc / MSci
Pharmacology BSc / MSci
Pharmacy MPharm
Physics BSc / MSci
Physics with Medical Physics BSc
Science and Society BSc
Statistical Science (International
Programme) MSci
Statistics and Management for Business BSc
Statistics BSc
Statistics, Economics and a Language BSc
Statistics, Economics and Finance BSc
Theoretical Physics BSc / MSci

Undergraduate programmes

An undergraduate degree (sometimes called a Bachelor’s or Honours degree) is the first degree that students will study at university. Undergraduate degrees are usually three years in duration and focus on one specific subject.

If you choose to study two courses together this is called a ‘Joint Honours’ or 'combined Honours' degree which means you will specialise in those two courses throughout your degree.

Your degree can take an additional fourth year to complete if you choose to study abroad or if your degree includes an industrial placement.

Some degrees have the option to study a subject more in-depth at undergraduate level and are called ‘Undergraduate Master’s Degrees’, these are typically four years in duration. The exception to our typical undergraduate programme at UCL is Medicine MBBS BSc which is a six year programme. 

Types of undergraduate degrees at UCL:

  • BA (Bachelor of Arts)
  • BSc (Bachelor of Science)
  • BASc (Arts and Sciences)
  • BEng (Bachelor of Engineering)
  • LLB (Bachelor of Laws)
  • MBBS BSc (Bachelor of Medicine) 
  • MSci (Undergraduate Master of Science Degree-four years)
  • MEng (Undergraduate Master of Engineering Degree-four years)

For a full list of the undergraduate degree programmes available at UCL please consult our Undergraduate Prospectus

Graduate preparatory courses

UCL’s English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses are designed for international students who are planning to study on a graduate degree programmes at either UCL or at another UK institution. The intensive courses are designed to enable international students to reach the high levels of English required for degree study at UCL. Many course participants will already hold a conditional or unconditional offer of a place on a degree programme, others may still be in the process of applying for a place on a graduate programme. The following courses are available at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education:

UCL Diploma in English for Academic Purposes (Sept-June)

UCL Pre-sesional English Courses (April, June, July, August – Sept)

Graduate taught programmes

After completing an undergraduate degree some students will then choose to specialise in their subject and study a graduate level programme which will typically take a minimum of one year to complete. Students wishing to study at graduate level will need good grades in their undergraduate degree. 

Graduate taught programmes can provide students with the necessary skills either for a professional career or to undertake further research in their subject.

Postgraduate certificate (PGCert)

UCL's Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) programmes provide an opportunity to undertake study leading to a certificated qualification over a short period, usually equal to 15 weeks of full-time study. The syllabus often consists of courses or components chosen from a Master's or Postgraduate Diploma programme.

Postgraduate diploma (PGDip)

UCL’s Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) programmes are similar to taught master’s programmes but do not include a research project or dissertation. As such a Postgraduate Diploma lasts for only nine months. 

Taught master’s (e.g. MA/MSc/LLM)

Taught programmes involve traditional teaching through lectures and seminars. The most popular type of graduate taught programme is a taught master’s programme (usually know as a “master’s”).

A taught master’s programme usually includes teaching through lectures, classes, and seminars for two terms of the year and then an independent research project or dissertation during the summer. The project or dissertation is submitted in September at the end of the course. A Taught master’s degree will typically last 12 months full time.

Master’s of research (MRes)

The MRes degree normally extends full-time over 12 months, starting in September. The MRes degree has been designed to include structured and progressive research training which can be a foundation for doctoral (MPhil/Phd or EndD) study or a research career.

This training in research techniques is combined with taught elements, plus a significant research component, which focus in-depth on your field of study. 

For more information on the graduate taught programmes offered by UCL, please consult the Graduate Prospectus.

Graduate research programmes

Graduate research programmes focus on supervised research of a particular subject with few or no taught elements.  Programmes will last between one and four years and will involve in-depth subject analysis and research methods.

Types of graduate research degrees at UCL: 


The PhD (also known as a Doctorate) is the highest level qualification you can receive at university. It takes a minimum of three years full time to complete and involves an extensive amount of independent research.

Students wishing to study a PhD will usually need to have completed a relevant Master’s programme or they must be able to demonstrate significant research experience. Applicants are judged on a case-by-case basis. Some students will study a PhD to gain greater knowledge of their subject whilst others study a PhD in preparation for an academic career.

PhD students at UCL are required to register initially for the MPhil qualification; the upgrade procedure from MPhil to PhD registration is an important step in your programme. The MPhil/PhD is normally designed to extend over three years full-time.

However, certain PhD degrees are offered on a four-year full-time basis; please see departmental entries for details. It is also possible to register with the intention of graduating with the MPhil degree.

The PhD is assessed by a written thesis of no more than 100,000 words. This thesis must demonstrate the candidate’s capacity to pursue original research in their field of study and represent a distinct and significant contribution to the subject, whether through the discovery of new knowledge, the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of new theory or the revision of older views. It should show the exercise of critical judgement with regard to both the candidate’s own work and that of other scholars in the field.

MPhil (Master of Philosophy)

The MPhil is entirely research led and it is typically two years in duration. The MPhil is assessed by a written thesis of no more than 60,000 words.

This thesis must represent a contribution to the subject either through a record of the candidate’s original work or a critical and ordered exposition of existing knowledge.

Professional Doctorate

A Professional Doctorate combines elements of taught, research and work-related components and is aimed at professional careers rather than academia. In addition to a substantial research component, examined by a thesis of 20,000 to 40,000 words depending on the qualification, the programmes also include elements of a practical, work-related and professional nature and taught components assessed by coursework.

Professional doctorates at UCL include:

  • Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic
  • Psychotherapy (DPsychotherapy)
  • Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
  • Clinical Communication Science (Doctorate)
  • Dentistry (DDent)
  • Educational and Child Psychology (DEdPsy)
  • Educational Psychology (DEdPsy)
  • Paediatric Dentistry (DDent)
  • Trauma and Orthopaedics (Doc Orth)

MD (Doctor of Medicine)

The MD is similar to a PhD, however, it is for fully qualified medical doctors and involves a clinical component. The MD usually takes a minimum of two years to complete.

EngD (Doctor in Engineering)

The EngD at UCL has been developed to provide business and technical expertise to complement doctoral-level research skills. About three-quarters of the programme is in the form of an industrial research project carried out within a company.

The remainder of the programme involves taught courses in technical, business, managerial and personal skills.

For more information on the graduate research programmes offered by UCL please see the research pages of the Graduate Prospectus.

Study abroad and exchange programmes

UCL has a well-established exchange and study abroad programme, welcoming  students from colleges and universities around the world who wish to gain credit for courses taken at UCL in order to graduate from their home universities. 

It is possible to come to UCL for a period of between 3 and 12 months as a study abroad (fee paying) or exchange (non-fee paying) student before returning to your home university to continue your studies.

For more information on study abroad and exchange opportunities at UCL please consult our study abroad and exchange pages.

Page last modified on 30 aug 13 16:27

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