Jargon Buster

Open day bunting hanging in Peel Park

We know that starting the UCAS process can be confusing, not least when you come up against new words that you don’t quite understand (don’t worry, we’ve all been there!). We’ve put together some explanations of the main terms which are used in relation to university life:

About the courses


A person studying for their first degree.

Foundation year

This is a year-long programme that prepares students for success on their degree course.

Foundation degree

A 2-year course that is equivalent of the first 2 years of a Bachelor's degree.

Bachelor's degree

A 3-year undergraduate course, may be a:
BA: Bachelor of Arts
BEng: Bachelor of Engineering
BSc: Bachelor of Science

Integrated master's

4-year undergraduate course leading to a higher-level qualification. Usually offered in specific subjects:
MChem: Master of Chemistry
MEng: Master of Engineering
MPhys: Master of Physics

Joint Honours

A degree where two subjects are studied equally (50/50 split).

Major/Minor Honours

A degree where you study two subjects but concentrate on one (the major subject) whilst studying a second subject in less detail (the minor subject).

Sandwich degree

A degree where you do a work placement year as part of your course, usually between your second and third year.


Someone who has already gained a degree and is now studying for another qualification or degree.

MA (Master of Arts) / MSc (Master of Science)

A postgraduate course (usually 1 year) studied after completing an undergraduate degree.


A postgraduate research qualification usually based on at least three years study/research and a long piece of writing called a thesis.

About the learning

Academics / Lecturers / Professors / Tutors

People who teach at a university.

Critiques (‘Crits’)

Often used on art and design courses. Students work as a group, discussing projects and works by other artists, including fellow students.


A long essay about a specific subject, usually between 9,000 – 12,000 words completed in the final year of a degree course.


Classes where members of staff or visiting experts present information and ideas to larger groups of students.

Tutorials and seminars

Classes where small groups of students, guided by a tutor or lecturer, talk about what they are studying in lectures.


Using or copying another person’s work without acknowledgement and with the intention of passing it off as one’s own. This is cheating and is not allowed at university.

PBL: Problem Based Learning

A method of study whereby you are given a real problem, which you usually work in a group to solve.


The teaching period at university when you have lessons scheduled. There are two semesters each academic year.

About the 'other stuff'

NUS (National Union of Students)

As well as providing discounts in various retail and leisure outlets, the NUS campaign for student rights.

SU (Students' Union)

Run by students for the benefit of students at universities. They organise the sports clubs, societies and social activities and offer support to students.


The summer period, including the time after A-Level results are released, where universities advertise remaining places on their courses.

Bursaries and scholarships

Non-repayable money from universities to assist with the cost of studying at university. Also sometimes comes in the form of credit to use on campus or with approved retailers.


The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is the central portal for information on all full-time undergraduate courses available throughout the UK. Their online service allows applicants to find courses, track their progress and respond to offers.


The buildings and grounds at which a university is based; sometimes universities have a number of different campuses, occasionally in different cities.

Student Loan (Maintenance and Tuition Fee Loans)

Repayable money from the Student Loan Company (SLC) available to help you with your living costs (maintenance) and tuition fees.

Means tested

Assessment made on household income to determine how much financial support you are entitled to.