How are University Degree Classifications done in the UK?

When you are applying for undergraduate or postgraduate degrees, it is important to understand the university grading system. The university grading system is different from your traditional grading system and thus you might be confused about it. When you are in the university you will be getting grades different from the traditional grades that you get in A-levels. 

Quick Takeaways

  • These grades generally reflect how well you have performed during the degree and are generally classified into five different levels-
First-class honour – scored around 70% and above
Upper second-class honour – scored around 60%-70%
Lower second-class honour – score around 50%-60%
Third-class honour – score around 40%-50%
Ordinary degree – when you are not able to make it to a third-class honour by few marks.

However, you must read till the end to understand the classification of the university.

How are University Degree Classifications done in the UK?

How is the university classification done?

When you are studying at the university, the grading system for the degree is different from what you have seen for A-levels and other vocational qualifications. You will get degree classification for any kind of degree including the advanced degree that you study at the university. It helps to represent the different grades that you get during your degree. Generally, there are five different types of honour degrees- First-class honour

  • Upper second-class honour
  • Lower second-class honour
  • Third-class honour 
  • The ordinary degree.

All of these qualifications are discussed further.

What is a first-class honour degree?

A first-class honour degree(1st)  is the highest level that you will be getting during the completion of your degree. It is awarded to you if you are getting around 70% marks and above in the degree that you have studied. This level is given to those who did good in the university on basis of both academics and coursework.

Also, it is based on a weighted average and thus you must consider your third year very seriously as it has a higher grade value than the other two years. Thus you must perform excellently in your academics as well as in your assignments

What is the upper second-class honour degree?

The Upper Second-honour degree(2:1) is the second-highest degree that you receive when you are doing your degree at the university level. It is the one which is awarded to you if you have received about 60%-70%, in your degree. Again as mentioned earlier that it is evaluated on a weighted average system, thus you must make sure that you do great in your year third.

How are University Degree Classifications done in the UK?

What is the lower second-class honour degree?

The lower Second-honour degree(2:2) is the second-highest degree that you receive after the upper second-level degree. It is the one which you will get if you have received between 50%-60%. When compared to grades in A-levels, it can be considered as the grade C. 

What is a third-class honour degree?

The third-class honour degree(3rd) is the lowest level of degree that you received when you have taken the degree at the university level. You will receive it when you get the minimum of 40% marks in your degree. Again if we compare it with the grades in A-levels, it can be considered as grade D. This is because grade D lies somewhere between 40-49%. 

What is an ordinary degree?

It is the degree that you will get if you are not able to meet the requirements of a third-class honour degree. You must remember that you will only get it if you are not able to meet the requirements only by a little mark. Suppose the passing point for the degree is about 120. However, if you have scored 100, you may get a pass depending on how well you did in the rest of the period and also depending upon the college you are studying in.

What is an ordinary degree in Scotland?

In Scotland, an ordinary degree is different from the ordinary degree in other countries. An ordinary degree in Scotland is a qualification in itself. Though it will not be an honour degree you still received a recognized degree. This type of degree is also known as a designation degree.

The only difference between the ordinary degree in traditional honour degree and the ordinary degree in Scotland is that you will have to take up a degree which is of three years. You can take up either bachelor’s or a master’s degree.

How are University Degree Classifications done in the UK?

Which is the best grade to receive during university?

Of course, the bests grade that you receive in a degree is the first class honour. When you go for an interview in any company the employer will definitely look for people who have received first-class honour degrees. They are more interested in taking up candidates who have done extremely well in their academics. Trust me most employers do not even consider the Upper second-class honour as the first choice. 

However, in some cases, you may find the opposite of it. Despite having the first class honour degree, the employer may still not accept your applications as they may not consider you the right choice for the job role. 


Unlike your traditional qualifications and other vocational courses, the grading system of a university degree is different from theirs. You generally get the grades based on the percentage you have scored in the university degree. Based on the percentage level, you will be getting five different classes in it –

  • First-class honour
  • Upper second-class honour 
  • Lower second-class honour
  • Third-class honour
  • Ordinary degree

However, in Scotland, receiving an ordinary degree means that you are taking up a different degree which can be done for 3 years. 

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