Prepare for a British summer

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Ronin Distance, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. Ronin Distance

    Ronin Distance Rojiura no Uchuu Shōnen

    I'm looking at these pages right now, and to be honest, I don't know what to make of it.

    The University seems prestigious enough. The "star power" is there (3 Noble Laureates! :eek:). And the price is fair. So what am I missing? :confused: I specially don't understand the British system of education. I am used to 120 credits. 40 classes. And a whole lot of "hand holding" on the part of the professors. But apparently, the Brits do it differently. Just 12 units, self-study, that's your degree. First of all, what is a unit? And once I finish all 12, am I officially a college graduate? Do not pass, go, you are free to take your masters now? Can it really be that simple? What I'm looking for here is a sort of "Cliff Notes" version of what the University of London External Programme is and is not. It sounds too good to be truth, so as everything in life, I assume it is. Thanks in advance.
  2. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    The 'points" system seems to vary with different UK universities.

    For example my daughter studied for a psychology degree at York St. Johns (YSJ) in the UK.
    Courses there are typically 20 points each, and to receive a degree 300 points are required.
    "Credits" represent YSJ credits and may be different for other countries. Generally 20 YSJ credits = 10 ECTS credits = 5 US/Canadian credits.
    So her degree would be equal to 60 USA semester units.

    Admission to UK universities usually requires prior academic acheivement probably equal in scope to a US associates degree.

    Courses are usually taught over a ten month period and the normal fulltime residency for a degree is 3 years. UK exams are tough (in my opinion and experience) compared typical US state university exams

    I would not underestimate the work required to earn a U of L external degree. Maybe others can comment on the U of L exams. Entry (admission) requirements are listed for each U of L degree.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2008
  3. tcmak

    tcmak New Member

    They usually give students advices on how many units to take in each year.

    Things apparently looks good with UoL. However, their examinations can be tough. If you are used to the American way of marking, I believe the British way of marking will upset you. Getting an A is never easy and only a small percentage in the class can enjoy the pleasure. Be prepared to get some fifty-something marks for an ordinary performance.

    I also heard that degrees like LLB have pretty high failure rate, as if they don't really care the passing rate.

    The other thing you might be prepared to do is to take the examination until the end of the academic year~ so a lot to read before you go to the exam

    Good Luck~

  4. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    No, it is not quite that simple. Where in the US system, they might take a subject such as economics and break it up in to 3 credits of micro, 3 credits of macro, 3 credits of intermediate micro, and 3 credits of intermediate macro, in a UK university, it might be considered just 1 unit of economics.

    My MBA was "just" 9 classes, but that was equivalent to 30 US graduate credits. And the exams were some of the hardest I have ever taken in my life. I'm guessing UoL's 12 Units is going to be about the same work as 120 US undergrad credits.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2008
  5. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    If 9 UK classes are equal to 30 US classes, then how are 12 UK units equal to 120 US credits?
  6. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    I have done some subjects with the UOL LLB program. I found that each subject was at least a double subject, probably more. I won't try and put in US terms, but the work load is quite heavy. You will find that the marking is very hard. I passed my exams, but 78 percent of the year that I sat didn't.

    There had not been any first class honours (A+ passes) for three years at the time I was enrolled. Great degree, but not easily earned. You also have to be aware that the most of the UK are finished with degrees after the BA or LLB. I think that it is so hard because it is intended to be the final tertiary product. Perhaps it reaches the analytical level expected of a Masters because of that.

    It is true that they do Masters and Doctorates, but my experience is that is more rare than elsewhere.
  7. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

  8. novemberdude

    novemberdude New Member

    I have completed an English LLB by distance learning. The first year was with University of London. Those courses were (far) more than double the work that I put in during my first degree at a Canadian university, and grading was extremely tough.

    The year that I did the pass rate was something like 45%.

    I can't speak to other London external programs, but that was my LLB experience.

    As a general observation a full time courseload for an on ground LLB student is 4 courses. If that equals 30 credits then each course would be 7.5 credits. That doesn't seem unrealistic, if perhaps a little light given the workload.
  9. Ronin Distance

    Ronin Distance Rojiura no Uchuu Shōnen

    I would like to clear up that, when I said "simple", I didn't mean "easy", but rather, simple, as in, you only take the classes that are relevant to your particular field of study, without all the "clutter" that American universities seem to add. It's no secret that the British educational system is well-known for it's difficulty, and that, as Ian pointed out, the average UK BSc could easily equal (or even surpass) our Masters.

    Can I ask where did you finish it? And has it been useful to you, so far? Thanks in advance, and to you guys, thanks for all the answers. I really appreciate them. :)
  10. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    It wasn't meant to be a direct relation since one is graduate, and the other is undergraduate. My assumption was if a UK undergrad requires 12 units, and a US undergrad requires around 120 semester credits, and they are assumed to be equivalent degrees, then 1 unit would be about 10 US semester credits.

    Not an actual evaluation by any means. (You would have to use a service like WES or IERF for that.) But for someone not familiar with the UK system wondering about how much work 1 "unit" would require, it could be a rough guide.
  11. novemberdude

    novemberdude New Member

    I completed my LLB at Northumbria University

    As for whether or not it's been useful, that's a complicated answer. It has been useful to the extent that it was part of the package that allowed me to be admitted to a Canadian residential doctoral program (they would not have admitted me without it, but it was not the only thing I needed either). Beyond that law degrees are different in that their primary use (the satisfaction of the academic stage of training in becoming a laywer) is not what you could term geographically mobile. I knew that going in so I don't really consider it a limitation but I know that hte professional usefulness of the degree will always be limited in that sense. Plus I just finished the degree this year so there hasn't been a lot of time for it to be useful.

    I guess the short answer is that I have mostly gotten out of the degree what I've wanted, so in that sense I would say it's useful. Your goals may be different.
  12. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Somewhere in this thread I hope that someone will say something about Honors degrees. As I understand it, within the British system you have to do that fourth year (Honors degree) if you want to get yourself into grad school. Is this actually the case?
  13. novemberdude

    novemberdude New Member

    I am by no means an expert and can only speak regarding my experience. I have a LLB(Hons) but it was not a 4 year degree. I had a brief glance and it appears as though for some (not all) honours degrees there is a slightly larger credit requirement (but not a year longer).

    In at least Ontario an honours degree is (again, not an expert here) generally a year longer than a non honours degree.
  14. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    The school I attended in the UK became the University of Hertfordshire. Most of their Bachelor degrees (honours or double honours) are three years in length with full time study.
    But as I pointed out above you need a certain level of ewducation to be admitted to their degree programs.

    There is a new degree available in the UK known as a Foundation Degree (FD). It is a two year degree but I do not know much more than is provided here:
    Perhaps this is similar to the AA/AS degree of the USA.
  15. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

  16. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    A description on what "honours" are is available here:
    It sounds like it is used in a similar manner as the USA overall GPA
  17. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    It may be that the UK is going down the road towards the South African award of a Bachelor of Technology which is applied science based. The Foundation Degree sounds similar to it.
  18. novemberdude

    novemberdude New Member

    That's an interesting link, thanks for posting it.

    There are some technical rules regarding degree classifications. In general here is how it works at Northumbria, based on average marks:

    70%+: First Class Honours
    60-69: Second Class Honours, upper division (2:1)
    50-59: Second Class Honours, lower division (2:2)
    45-49: Third Class Honours
    40-44: Pass degree

    On the page linked to above they go on about percentages achieving each degree classification. I don't doubt the figures, there is talk of grade inflation in England. However, anyone reading that should be aware that it can vary by school and discipline. For example, at University of London on the LLB in a typical year there would be no Firsts and 5-6% Upper Seconds. At Northumbria on the LLB the situation is a bit better but an Upper Second is still quite an achievement and the bulk of students fall into the lower second classification.

    At the bottom of the Wikipedia page there is a great link to the British Council giving grade conversions to the US system:

    Click on How do grades in the UK compare to the US. They provide a few different charts.

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