Education in the UK

Students studying in the UK

A globally respected education system, with some of the best universities in the world; the UK offers a mix of traditional education focused on the future.

What to expect from the UK education system

What is the higher education system?

Higher education in the UK consists of undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD study. In the UK, you begin your journey in higher education once you finish secondary and further education.

Degree lengths

  • Undergraduate degree: 3 years of full-time study
  • Postgraduate degree: 1 year of full-time study
  • PhD: 4 years on average

No matter your higher education ambitions, you will start by studying an undergraduate degree from a university in the UK. Typically lasting one year, this may be extended if your studies include an internship or other professional experience or training. For example, Aerospace Engineering students at Sheffield have the exciting option to learn to fly during their second year.

You need to have achieved the required high school grades to access a UK undergraduate degree. Requirements vary depending on the university and your degree choice. If you decide to pursue a full-time masters degree after successfully completing your undergraduate degree, you will study for an additional year.

A Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) is the highest level of UK degrees. They are project-based and take as long as the research takes to complete. On average, this is four years but it can go on much longer.

Research and innovation

Sheffield is part of the internationally recognised Russell Group of universities, each of which have a strong research record and excellent facilities for encouraging thinking towards the future. Students are empowered to become the next generation of world-leading researchers.

A UK university like Sheffield is the ideal choice for academically strong students with ambitious goals for their future. Alumni have gone on to be awarded Nobel prizes and achieve success across many fields.


Teaching during your UK degree programme at the University of Sheffield will include lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work and possibly fieldwork too, depending on your area of study.

You are expected to carry out independent research using the library and other resources when you study at a British university. This is an important part of most UK degrees. It prepares you well for the working world. Your tutors are there to support you, but you should expect to manage your own workload. At the International College, you will gain the independent learning techniques that will be vital to your success in your degree studies.


The type and number of assessments you will need to complete depends on your degree choice. You may be required to complete:

  • Coursework
  • Project work
  • Presentations
  • Written assignments/essays
  • Practical assessments
  • Final dissertation

Being a student at the University of Sheffield

At the International College and during your degree, you will have full access to all of the University’s facilities to help you learn and get experience for your career. International students are part of everything at Sheffield, and you will be represented by the Student Unions' International Officer and support team, who you can contact with any questions you have.

Preparing for university study

Like many UK universities, the University of Sheffield works in collaboration with an International College. It provides pathway programmes for international students to a prestigious degree from the University. Options are available for both undergraduate and postgraduate study, with a choice of subject routes depending on the degree you choose. At the University of Sheffield International College, you can choose from:

Pathway programmes

Undergraduate pathways

Postgraduate pathways

Discover why pathway programmes help

Guiding you towards your degree

The progression support team at the International College works closely with the University to help you stay on track to access your first-choice degree programme. You will have regular assessments so that if you need help in any area of study, it will be picked up straight away. This gives you the best chance to ensure you meet the requirements to progress to your degree. If you don't quite meet the requirements, you will be supported to take your next step. You may decide to change your choice of degree, or choose to re-take certain assessments or modules.