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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 will be awarded an ordinary degree ie 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

2012/13

18%

49%

26%

6%

2013/14

20%

50%

24%

6%

2014/15

22%

50%

23%

5%

2015/16

24%

50%

22%

5%

2016/17

26%

49%

20%

5%


Percentage of UCL students getting a good degree

The table below shows how the class of degree awarded varies by discipline in the academic year 2016/17.  Note the high level of good degrees (Firsts and 2:1s) awarded at UCL in 2016/17, compared to the national picture. This reflects the high calibre of UCL students.

Honours degrees awarded by UCL faculty

1st

2:1

2:2

3rd

 

16/17

15/16

16/17

15/16

16/17

15/16

16/17

15/16

Arts and Humanities

33%

33.4%

64%

63.2%

3%

3.4%

0%

0.0%

Brain Sciences

42%

33.7%

55%

61.9%

3%

4.4%

0%

0.0%

Built Environment

34%

21.1%

54%

64.5%

12%

13.3%

1%

1.2%

Engineering Sciences

47%

44.2%

42%

40.0%

10%

13.3%

0%

0.8%

Institute of Education

25%

19.7%

54%

53.0%

21%

24.2%

0%

3.0%

Laws

22%

24.2%

75%

69.6%

3%

6.2%

0%

0.0%

Life Sciences

49%

40.4%

46%

49.8%

5%

9.4%

0%

0.4%

Mathematical and Physical Sciences

50%

44.3%

38%

39.9%

12%

14.5%

0%

0.2%

Medical Sciences

27%

35.6%

72%

59.7%

0%

4.6%

0%

0.0%

Population Health Sciences

32%

n/a

62%

n/a

6%

n/a

0%

n/a

Social and Historical Sciences

32%

30.7%

58%

59.5%

9%

9.2%

0%

0.5%

UCL overall

39%

35.9%

54%

53.4%

7%

9.8%

0%

0.4%


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

ETCS 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