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Progression routes

This page explains the different types of undergraduate and postgraduate courses we offer and the ways we can help you choose the right course. 

Undergraduate courses

We offer courses at the following levels.

Short courses

  • We offer over 200 introductory short courses. Taught part-time, usually on just one evening a week, many are part of a Certificate of Higher Education, so you can build up credits to complete a certificate if you wish to. They are also ideal if you just want to pursue an interest or develop a new skill. 

Certificates of Higher Education

  • Certificates are stand-alone University of London qualifications, which also offer a flexible route into university. They are taught part-time at first-year degree level, comprise a mixture of compulsory and option modules, and you can build up your credits to progress to degree study at Birkbeck if you wish. Certificates are usually taught on just one evening a week. 
  • Certificates are either modular or programme. Modular certificates are flexible: you study at your own pace, usually taking one or two modules each year. (Note: if you wish to apply for a student loan, you must be studying modules worth at least 30 credits a year.) Programme certificates are structured like undergraduate degrees and you have to complete an application form for entry to the whole programme. 

Foundation Degrees

  • Foundation Degrees offer a route into university for students who want to develop the professional knowledge and skills to work in a particular field. Evening taught, they don’t usually have any formal entry requirements. You can complete a Foundation Degree in two years full-time or two years and two terms part-time. Many include a top-up element that allows you to progress and complete a full BA/BSc degree. 

BA/BSc/LLB degrees with Foundation Year

  • We offer some BA, BSc and LLB degrees with a Foundation Year, to prepare you for a full-time undergraduate degree. They are ideal if you do not meet the entry requirements for your chosen undergraduate degree, or if you would like extra help and support to succeed at university. 

BA/BSc/LLB degrees

  • We offer nearly 80 BA, BSc and LLB evening study degrees and, in many subjects, you can choose to complete your studies full-time over three or part-time over four or six years. 

Gaining your award

  • To gain an award, you must successfully complete the required number of credits and modules, as specified in the programme regulations. 
  • Credit points for different awards are: 
    • Certificate of Higher Education: 120
    • Foundation Degree: 240
    • BA/BSc/LLB degree: 360
    • BA/BSc/LLB degree with Foundation Year: 480. 

Postgraduate courses

We offer well over 250 postgraduate programmes, in arts and humanities, business and economics, law, science, and social sciences - and in interdisciplinary combinations. Depending on your previous qualifications and academic goals, you can choose from: 

Graduate Certificates/Diplomas

  • These programmes are taught at final-year undergraduate level and are typically used as a qualifying or refresher course before you embark on a full Master’s degree programme. They also provide a useful entry route to postgraduate-level study for students who have significant work experience or a professional background that is relevant to a particular course of study.
  • Graduate Certificates/Diplomas typically take one-two years to complete and are made up of two, three or four modules at final-year undergraduate degree level (worth 60, 90 or 120 credits). 

Postgraduate Certificates/Diplomas

  • Taught at a higher level than Graduate Certificates/Diplomas, these are ideal for graduates who want to update their knowledge in a specialist field, without undertaking a full Master’s degree. 
  • Postgraduate Certificates/Diplomas typically take one-two years part-time to complete and are usually structured similarly to Master’s degrees, but without a dissertation. 
  • Postgraduate Certificates are normally made up of two modules at postgraduate level (60 credits) and Postgraduate Diplomas of four modules at postgraduate level (120 credits).

Master’s degrees (LLM/MA/MRes/MSc)

  • At Master’s level, you can choose from over 150 programmes, most of which are taught (LLM, MA, MSc), but a few of which allow you to concentrate on developing your research skills and undertaking an independent research project (MRes). 
  • Nearly all are taught in the evenings, but we also offer some Master’s degrees by distance-learning and others are partly or fully taught in the daytime. 
  • Full-time Master’s degrees are usually one year long, while part-time Master’s degrees are usually taken over two years. 
  • Master’s degrees usually consist of six modules: four taught modules and a dissertation (which is equivalent to two taught modules), worth a total of 180 credits. 
  • Part-time students take up to three modules each year. 
  • Programmes are usually composed of compulsory and core modules and then options modules that you can select from a range on offer. Modules are usually worth 15 or 30 credits each and all include some form of assessment. 


  • A research degree offers you the opportunity to acquire a highly advanced set of research, writing and conceptual skills developed in the pursuit of new knowledge, which can be applied within or beyond an academic or scholarly context.
  • All of our schools offer research opportunities, allowing you to pursue your research under the supervision of world-class academics involved in cutting-edge research that is internationally recognised. We offer both full-time and part-time research opportunities in over 40 subject areas, all leading to prestigious University of London MPhil/PhD qualifications.
  • Full-time students can expect to work at least two years for an MPhil and at least three years for a PhD. Part-time study usually takes at least one-two years longer.
  • Some schools offer structured research programmes that incorporate compulsory lectures and seminars. Your progress on the taught part of the programme may be formally assessed by coursework or examinations, before you go on to complete your research project. 
  • Most students work independently from the outset, with the support and guidance of a supervisor. 
  • If you are applying to do a PhD, you will be considered for MPhil registration in the first instance, unless you are exceptionally well-qualified (for example, if you have achieved a distinction at MA/MSc level or hold a relevant MPhil or MRes). Transfer to PhD registration is usually considered after a formal review of progress and assessment of work or results. 

Integrated PhDs

  • We also offer several innovative Integrated PhDs, which combine PhD research with taught, Master’s-level courses designed to improve your general and discipline-specific research skills. This gives you a powerful combination of knowledge, skills and research experience, ideal for employment in business, university teaching, government and public service. 

Need help? 

  • If you need advice and guidance on choosing the right level of study and the best course for you, come along to an Open Evening to speak to our experts. 
  • We also provide free, expert advice sessions on getting on the undergraduate course that's right for you and your future career plans. 
  • Our friendly Student Advice Service can also help out with advice and information about choosing the best course and making an application to Birkbeck.