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Course Glossary

All these niggly little abbreviations for courses can leave the best of us confused. What’s the difference between a BD and a BDS? An HNC or an HND? A BAcc and a BTech (we aren’t making these up)? For those in a state of utter bewilderment, we present our course glossary…

AMusD – Nope, it’s not a text slang way of writing ‘amused’. A Doctor of Musical Arts is a doctoral academic qualification in music.

BA – One of the most popular degree types to get bandied about, Bachelor of the Arts is a degree awarded for an undergraduate university course.

BA (Foundation) – See Foundation Degree.

BAcc – Bachelor of Accounting. It’s an undergraduate bachelor’s degree, but for accounting. Simple.

Bar Professional Training Course or BPTC – The BPTC is the vocational postgraduate course you take if you want to practise as a barrister.

BArch – A BArch or a Bachelor of Architecture is the architecture degree taken after studying a generalist architecture degree.

BBA, BBus or BBS – A Bachelor of Business Administration is like a BA but focuses on, wait for it, business administration.

BChD or BDS –This is the qualification awarded after graduating from dentistry school. Attaining a Bachelor of Dental Surgery means that you are qualified to poke around in other peoples’ mouths. Nice.

BD – A Bachelor of Divinity is a three or four-year course in divinity, theology or religious studies. Most theology or divinity bachelor’s courses result in a BA qualification (which is basically the same thing), but some institutes have stuck resolutely to calling their degree a BD.

BDes – A Bachelor of Design is a design-focused version of an undergraduate bachelor’s degree.

BEd – A Bachelor of Education is an undergraduate academic degree which leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

BEng – A Bachelor of Engineering is a lower degree than an MEng. It is awarded after the completion of undergraduate studies in engineering, after which most students go on to do a MEng. It’s accredited by one of the Engineering Council’s professional bodies, making it more viable than a BSc if you want to become a chartered engineer.

BM, MB BS or BMBS – BM doesn’t stand for Big Mouth. It stands for Bachelor of Medicine or Bachelor of Surgery; the qualification you’ll get when you graduate from medical school.

BMedSci – A Bachelor of Medical Science is sometimes awarded at the end of the first two or three years at medical school. It’s an extra degree awarded to students alongside their medical degrees.

BMid – Bachelor of Midwifery. It does exactly what it says on the tin.

BSc (Econ) – A Bachelor of Science in Economics is a specialised bachelor’s degree in Economics.

BSc – A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate degree programme specialising in science or social science.

BSocSc – A BSocSc is a bachelor’s degree in Social Science.

BTech – Bachelor of Technology. Don’t confuse it with the BTEC as you might get a technical slap around the face.

BVetMed, BVM BVS, BVM&S or BVMS – These stand for Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery. This is an undergraduate degree that you’ll need to practice as a vet.

CertEd – A Certificate in Education is a qualification for teachers wishing to train in further or higher education.

CertHE or Higher Certificate – A Certificate of Higher Education is a university-level qualification awarded after one year’s full-time study at university. Think of it as an academic version of the vocational Higher National Certificate (HNC).

Common Professional Examination or Graduate Diploma in Law: The CPE or GDL is a graduate law conversion course for students wishing to practice law who don’t have an LLB.

DClinPsych – A Doctorate in Clinical Psychology is the graduate degree needed to become a clinical psychologist.

DipHE – A Diploma of Higher Education is awarded after two to three years of full-time study at university. It’s considered the more academic equivalent of the Higher National Diploma (HND).

DMus – A Doctor of Music is one of the highest qualifications in the academic study of music.

DPhil or PhD – Doctor of Philosophy – nope, it’s not just for deep thinkers. This is the general term used for a postgraduate academic degree that is primarily research-based. It’s one of the highest ranking academic degrees you can get.

DProf – Doctor of Professional Studies. Think of DProfs as more vocational versions of PhDs. It’s more about applied, practical knowledge than pure academic study.

EngD – This is essentially an engineering version of a DProf. It’s similar to a PhD, but more vocational.

FdA – Short for Foundation Degree of the Arts, it’s a university level vocational qualification, similar to the HND, but lower than a BA.

FdSc – A FdSc Is similar to an FdA but is a Foundation Degree of the Sciences, not arts.

Foundation Certificate – Foundation Certificates are either used to prepare students, who might struggle otherwise, for an undergraduate degree course or can be a one-year intensive course in a vocational subject.

Foundation Course – A Foundation Course is different from a Foundation Degree. It’s used to prepare arty folk wishing to do a BA in art, design or architecture.

Foundation Degree – A Foundation Degree is a lower-level university vocational qualification, similar to an HND.

Graduate Certificate – A graduate certificate is a one-year part-time university level qualification. It’s equivalent to the final year of a bachelor’s degree.

HNC – The Higher National Certificate is a yearlong course, slightly lower than an HND. It is often seen as the equivalent to one year at university.

HND – The Higher National Diploma is basically a more vocational version of a Foundation Degree. It takes two years to complete and is usually tailored to a specific industry.

Legal Practice Course or LPC – A graduate vocational course for those wishing to practice as a solicitor.

LLB – A Bachelor of Law is an undergraduate degree in Law. Obviously.

LLM – A Masters of Law is a postgraduate degree in Law.

MA – A Master of the Arts is a taught master’s degree, focusing on (you’ve guessed it) the arts.

MArch – A Master of Architecture is a professional degree in architecture. Not the month after FEbruary.

MB BCh, MB BChir, or MB ChB – A little bit of Latin for you: these abbreviations stand for Medicinae Baccalaureus, Baccalaureus Chirurgiae. To put it in plain English, it’s exactly the same as a BM, MB BS or BMBS. It stands for Bachelor of Medicine or Bachelor of Surgery. It’s the qualification you’ll get on graduating from medical school.

MBA – A Master of Business Administration is a postgraduate qualification in business designed for those who have had significant work experience, i.e. people who are looking to become big cheeses in the business world.

MBiochem – A Master of Biochemistry is a degree programme in the area of (wait for it) biochemistry. Let’s put it this way, you won’t be studying poetry. It is a four-year undergraduate degree course, with a research element in the final year.

MBiol – A MBiol is a four-year undergraduate degree programme in biology with a research element in the final year.

MBioSci – A MBioSci is similar to a MBiol but focuses on the broader area of biosciences.

MChem - A Master of Chemistry differs from a BSc in chemistry, in that, although it is an undergraduate course, it lasts for four-years, not three and involves a research component.

MD – These little letters are an abbreviation for Doctor of Medicine. In the UK (and it’s different in the US), an MD is a medical academic research degree equivalent to a PhD.

MDes – A Master of Design is a postgraduate degree in design, although some universities, noticeably the University of Leeds and Coventry University, award it in the fourth year of an undergraduate programme in design.

MEd – Nope, it’s not short for the Mediterranean. MEd is short for Master of Education. It’s a postgraduate academic degree in education.

MEng – A Master of Engineering is usually awarded to students completing the fourth year of an extended undergraduate engineering degree course.

MFA – Master of Fine Art. A postgraduate qualification in, you’ve guessed it, fine art.

MLitt – Stands for Master of Letters. It’s a researched-based master’s and it’s the crème de la crème of master’s qualifications. An MLitt might also be awarded to those who have completed two years of their PhD and don’t finish their final year.

MMath – A Master of Mathematics is usually a four-year course in mathematics. It’s an integrated master’s degree course meaning that it’s an undergraduate programme extended by one year.

MMORSE – A four-year integrated master’s, MMORSE is an abbreviation of Master of Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics & Economics. Essentially, it combines the study of pure maths and statistics with economics, finance and management.

MMus – A MMus is a postgraduate master’s degree specialising in music.

MPerf – A Master of Performance is usually a two-year postgraduate degree, which focuses on the development of practical performance skills.

MPH – A professional, postgraduate degree, a Master of Public Health specialises in areas relating to public health.

MPhil – A Master of Philosophy is a postgraduate research master’s. And the word on the street is that it’s a more respected degree than a taught MA or MSc. Quite often PhD students start out initially doing an MPhil then transfer.

MPhys – A Master of Physics is a four-year undergraduate programme in physics. It’s similar to a BSc in physics but includes a research element in the final year.

MRes – A Master of Research has fewer taught modules than a typical MA or MSc and places more emphasis on a large dissertation. It’s aimed at preparing students for doctoral research. Hence the ‘research’ part.

MSc or MSci – Stands for Master of Science. It’s a postgraduate taught degree in science related areas, including social science. Science-y then.

MSt – A Master of Studies is a postgraduate degree only offered by the Oxbridge duo in the UK (because they have to be different, don’t they?) It is taught, but also requires the completion of a thesis.

PGCE – A Postgraduate Certificate in Education is a one-year postgraduate course that allows holders to train as teachers. Spiffing.

PgCert – Below a postgraduate diploma and a master’s degree in the degree rankings, a postgraduate certificate is a postgraduate qualification which equips students with a particular specialised knowledge. The PGCE is an example of a PgCert.

PgDip – Postgraduate Diplomas are usually either conversion courses (preparing students for postgraduate study in another discipline) or a postgraduate vocational course, like the Legal Practice Course. They can provide a route to particular careers, or they can work as a stepping stone towards studying a master’s degree

Phd – See DPhil

Postgraduate Advanced Diploma - See PgDip

Postgraduate Certificate – See PgCert

Professional Certificate – A Professional Certificate is a vocational qualification specific to a particular industry. They are usually awarded in conjunction with professional bodies or institutes, such as the ACCA.

Professional Diploma – A Professional Diploma is a vocational version of a Diploma of Higher Education.

SVQ – A Scottish Vocational Qualification is a certificate in vocational education in Scotland (are we stating the obvious?).