British degree abbreviations

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Degree abbreviations are used as an alternative way to specify an academic degree instead of spelling out the title in full, such as in reference books such as Who's Who and on business cards. Many degrees have more than one abbreviation. In the UK it is normal not to punctuate abbreviations for degrees with full stops (e.g. "BSc" rather than "B.Sc."), although this is done at some universities.

Overview[edit]

The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies, the UK's National Qualifications Framework, lays down four levels of qualification with the title of degree: foundation, bachelor's, master's and doctoral. These relate to specific outcome-based level descriptors and are tied to the Bologna Process.[1]

Anomalies[edit]

For historical reasons some universities (the ancient universities of England and Scotland) do not fully adhere to the Framework (particularly with respect to the title of Master of Arts), and degrees in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine are titled as bachelor's degrees despite being at master's level.[2]

Undergraduate Master of Arts degrees[edit]

The usage in the ancient universities is not consistent with the Framework or the Bologna Process. The ancient universities of England (Oxford and Cambridge) grant an MA degree that is not a substantive qualification but reflects the ancient practice of these universities of promoting BAs to MAs (and thus full membership of the University) a few years after graduating (see Master of Arts (Oxbridge and Dublin)). The ancient universities of Scotland award an undergraduate MA (see Scottish MA) instead of a BA.

The MAs from Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews are considered bachelor's level qualifications on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and first cycle qualifications under the Bologna Process, while the Oxbridge MAs are considered "not academic qualifications" (the actual qualification being the BA).[2]

Master's level bachelors degrees[edit]

Conversely, some bachelor's degrees in the "higher faculties" at the older universities in the UK (e.g. those other than arts at Oxford and Cambridge) are postgraduate qualifications (e.g. the BCL and BMus at Oxford). Many have been changed to the corresponding master's degree (e.g. BSc is now MSc at Oxford), but only within the last generation. The BD remains a higher degree at some universities (e.g. Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews and, until recently, Durham) but is an undergraduate degree at most (e.g. London, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow).

Bachelor's degrees in medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, while undergraduate degrees, are longer courses and are considered to be master's level qualifications in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and second cycle qualifications under the Bologna Process.[2]

Bachelor/Master/Doctor of Philosophy[edit]

There is an international (but not universal) custom that certain degrees will be designated '.... of Philosophy'. Examples are the BPhil (Bachelor of Philosophy), MPhil (Master of Philosophy) and PhD or DPhil (Doctor of Philosophy). Most recipients of such degrees have not engaged in a specialised study of academic philosophy - the degree is available for almost the whole range of disciplines. The origins lie in the ancient practice of regarding all areas of study as elements of 'philosophy' with its Greek meaning, 'friend of wisdom'. Thus holders of an MPhil degree may have earned it in any academic discipline.

Foundation Level Qualifications[edit]

These qualifications sit at level 5 (foundation level) of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and are short cycle (within or linked to the first cycle) qualifications under the Bologna Process.[3]

See also Foundation degree.

  • FdA - Foundation of Arts[4]
  • FdEng - Foundation of Engineering[4]
  • FdSc - Foundation of Sciences[4]

Bachelor's Level Qualifications[edit]

These qualifications sit at level 6 (bachelor's level) of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and are first cycle (end of cycle) qualifications under the Bologna Process.[3]

Most British bachelor's degrees are honours degrees, sometimes indicated by putting "(Hons)" after the degree abbreviation. A student achieving a pass grade, below honours standard, may be awarded an "ordinary degree" or a "pass degree" and may not add "(Hons)".

As noted above, the MAs of the ancient universities of Scotland are also at this level and may also add '(Hons)'. Both these and bachelor's degrees with honours at Scottish universities are four-year courses at level 10 of the Framework for Qualifications of Higher Education Institutes in Scotland. Scottish bachelor's degrees without honours (including non-honours MAs from the ancient universities of Scotland) are three-year course with less specialisation (an Ordinary Degree or a General Degree) at level 9 of the Framework for Qualifications of Higher Education Institutes in Scotland.[5]

Some of the following are postgraduate degrees in a few universities, but generally bachelors are undergraduate degrees.

Master's Level Qualifications[edit]

These qualifications sit at level 7 (master's level) of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and are second cycle qualifications under the Bologna Process.[3]

Undergraduate degrees[edit]

Undergraduate "Integrated master's" degrees are offered with honours, and so may add (hons) after the degree abbreviation. These are substantive master's degrees at the same level as postgraduate master's.[2]

Primary qualifications in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine are taken as undergraduate courses and denominated bachelor's degrees, but are normally offered without honours These are also qualifications at the same level as postgraduate master's degrees, but retain the name of bachelor's for historical reasons.[2] The Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery are always taken together as the primary medical qualification in the UK, equivalent to the American MD.

Note that where there is a similarly titled postgraduate master's degree, the formulation " Master in ..." is used for the undergraduate degree and "Master of ..." for the postgraduate degree (e.g. MArt/MA, MSci/MSc). Where there is no equivalent postgraduate degree, either "in" or "of" is used.

Postgraduate degrees[edit]

Postgraduate master's degrees may be either taught degrees or research degrees. Taught master's degrees may be awarded by an institution with taught degree awarding powers; master's degrees by research (e g MPhil, MRes), where over half of the student's effort is in original research, require research degree awarding powers.[12] Postgraduate degrees are not normally honours degrees and thus do not add "(Hons)".

A few postgraduate degrees at Oxford are titled as bachelor's degrees. These are, nonetheless, master's level qualifications.

Doctoral degrees[edit]

UK Doctoral degrees are at level 8 of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and are third cycle qualifications under the Bologna Process. All doctoral degrees include "original research or other advanced scholarship" demonstrating "the creation and interpretation of new knowledge".[19]

Due to the flexibility of Latin word order, there are two schools in the abbreviation of doctor's degrees. The two ancient universities of England split on this: at Cambridge, D follows the faculty (e.g. PhD, LittD.), while at Oxford the D precedes the faculty (e.g. DPhil, DLitt). Most universities in the UK followed Oxford for the higher doctorates but followed international precedent in using PhD for Doctor of Philosophy and professional doctorates.

The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications lays down the naming convention that Doctor of Philosophy is reserved for doctorates awarded on the basis of examination by thesis or publication, or by artefact, composition or performance accompanied by written academic commentary. Other doctorates (typically styled professional or specialist doctorates) that have substantial taught elements normally include the field in the name of the degree.[1]

Higher doctorates are normally awarded as honorary degrees (honoris causa), but can also be awarded on the basis of a substantial body of published work. DUniv is only ever an honorary degree. Some degrees awarded as higher doctorates by one institution may be awarded as professional doctorates by another (e.g. EngD).

Professional doctorates[edit]

Doctorates by Thesis or Composition[edit]

Higher doctorates[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF). Quality Assurance Agency. November 2014. pp. 35–37. 
  2. ^ a b c d e The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF). Quality Assurance Agency. November 2014. pp. 28–29. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF). Quality Assurance Agency. November 2014. pp. 17–18. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z "Post-Nominal Letters". Loughborough University. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  5. ^ The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF). Quality Assurance Agency. November 2014. pp. 25 & 27. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr Nicholas Grooves (2011). Shaw's Academical Dress of Great Britain and Ireland (3rd ed.). Burgon Society. pp. 43–49. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w "Academic Dress". Durham University Calendar. Durham University. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Academic dress by degree" (PDF). University of Oxford. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  9. ^ "Degrees in Music". Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Cambridge. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  10. ^ http://search.ucas.com/course/summary/445220/geoscience?Vac=1&AvailableIn=2016&Query=geoscience&ProviderQuery=keele&page=1&providerids=1262&flt9=1&ret=results]]. Retrieved 10 January 2016.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Master of Natural Sciences". Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Cambridge. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  12. ^ The Right to Award UK Degrees (PDF). Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. December 2014. pp. 2–3. 
  13. ^ "Bachelor of Civil Law". University of Oxford. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  14. ^ "BPhil in Philosophy". University of Oxford. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "Degrees in Law". Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Cambridge. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "Master of Advanced Study". Statutes and Ordinances of the University of Cambridge. University of Cambridge. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h "The provision of degrees and awards". Imperial College London. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  18. ^ "Magister Juris". University of Oxford. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  19. ^ The Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications of UK Degree-Awarding Bodies (PDF). Quality Assurance Agency. November 2014. p. 30. 
  20. ^ "Postgraduate". Glyndwr University. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  21. ^ "Juris Doctor". Queen's University Belfast. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  22. ^ "Core Regulations for Research Degrees by Thesis or Composition" (PDF). Durham University Calendar. Durham University. Retrieved 15 November 2015. 
  23. ^ a b "Core Regulations for Higher Doctorates" (PDF). Durham University Calendar. Durham University. Retrieved 15 November 2015.