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The UK Honours degree system for undergraduates

The UK university undergraduate degree system has historically been different from most other systems around the world. The system is likely to differ from what you are used to from school or college.

You can find out more about the way your work will be marked/assessed in your Student Handbook, which provides general information and key information relating to your degree programme. 

If you study for an undergraduate degree at UCL, you are aiming to graduate with a degree with honours. With this type of degree, the level of your academic performance on your programme is indicated by the ‘class’ of degree – or honours - you are awarded. Most universities award a class of degree based on the marks from the assessed work you have completed. To distinguish between students on the basis of their academic achievement, undergraduate degree awards are classified as follows:

  • First-Class Honours (70% and above): a first class degree, usually referred to as a ‘first’ or 1st, is the highest honours degree you can achieve 
  • Upper Second-Class Honours (60-70%): there are two levels of second class degree. An upper second class, known as a 2:1 or two-one, is the higher of the two levels 
  • Lower Second-Class Honours (50-60%): a 2.2 or two-two is the lower level of the second class degree 
  • Third-Class Honours (40-50%): known as a ‘third’ or 3rd, this degree is the lowest honours degree achievable
  • Ordinary Degree: If an honours student fails to achieve a third class by a small margin, they may be awarded an ordinary degree i.e. without honours.

UK-wide award of different classes of honours degrees 

The table below shows the percentage of each class of honours degree awarded across the UK, by year.

UK Honours degrees awarded

1st

2:1

2:2

3rd

2014/15

22.0%

49.5%

23.0%

5.5%

2015/16

23.6%

49.6%

21.7%

5.1%

2016/17

25.8%

49.1%

20.3%

4.9%

2017/18

27.8%48.5%19.2%4.5%

2018/19

28.4%48.3%19.0%4.3%

How does UK marking compare to other countries?

Please note this section is intended to provide general information on how marking in the UK higher education sector compares to marking systems in other countries. This information does not apply to admission to UCL and should not be construed within the context of UCL’s entry requirements.

Read further information on UCL’s international academic entry requirements.

A full range of equivalencies, can be found on the website of the UK Graduate Recruitment Bureau – the table below gives some comparisons.

Type of degree

UCL mark

US

ECTS scale

China (GPA 4.0 scale)

Germany

Italy

India

Netherlands & Spain

1st

70-100%

A

A

90%

(3.7)

Sehr gut

108

75%

9

2:1

65-69%               

A-

B

 

80%

(3.3)

Gut

Gut

94

60%

7

 

60-64%

B+

2:2

55-59%

B

C

 

75%

(2.9)

Gut -

84

50%

6

 

50-54%

B-

Befriedigend +

 

 

 

3rd

46-49%

C+

D

 

Befriedigend

 

 

 

 

43-45%

C

D

 

Befriedigend -

 

 

 

 

40-42%

C-

D

 

Ausreichend

 

 

 

Fail        

0-39%

F

F

 

Ungenügend