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    Sorry that this is a really open, stupid thread, but it's kinda worrying me.

    The other day I went to a UCAS fair, hoping that it might help me pick a course, uni or anything. However, I didn't really understand anything that they said. The more I listened, the more I realised I had no idea what the different levels/types of degree are, how the courses work, or basically anything I should know a few months before applying.

    The people in my year all seemed to know a lot more than me, but said that they just knew it. Is there anyone I can speak to, because I feel I should at least know the basics about uni before going to open days or preparing an application? Thanks
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    Hi,
    TBH university life is something which takes a little while to understand, when I was in first year I was feeling exactly like you and after some time I've realised I am not the only one. And when I accomplished my first year that is when I started to understand uni life i real terms, courses, levels, curriculum etc. And you will get familiar with all those aspects of uni once you get into it I'm sure. There are plenty of ways to understand some of it before you actually start university such as universities website, independent uni advice. I would encourage you to Google the university you wanna get into, check out students views about it. I have mentioned once below, but I would encourage you to do as much research you can before you actually start university, because picking up the right university and the right course can have a massive impact on your life, and it isn't three or four years matter, You're going to get fruits of your qualification all your life so it is essential you make the right choice.
    I wish you very good luck for your future.

    http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk
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    University terminology and the application process can be quite complicated, you are not alone and you certainly aren't stupid for being unsure about how it all works! Is there anything specifically you want to know? What was said to you that you didn't understand?

    Just a general guide to get you started (you may or may not know this but I've written it just so it's there if you need it):

    An undergraduate honours degree is a course most people take at university after finishing their A-levels/BTEC diplomas/IB etc. and usually take 3 years to complete, and depending on the course you study you could end up with a Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Art (BA), Bachelor of Education (BEd), Bachelor of Engineering (BEng), Bachelor of Laws (LLB) etc. Most courses fall into these categories, but there are others and they are all on the same academic level. Courses such as medicine and dentistry are different though, they take longer to complete and you leave with a different qualification.

    Within degree courses, you can do single or combined honours. Single honours courses consist of one subject, e.g. BSc (Hons) Physics, whereas for combined honours courses you study two subjects, e.g. BSc (Hons) Physics and Maths. Depending on how much of either subject you study, this affects your degree title at the end so it's important to check with each course you apply for that you're going to study the right amount of each subject you want. For example:

    Physics and Maths - equal split between both subjects
    Physics with Maths - majoring in Physics, minoring in Maths
    Maths with Physics - majoring in Maths, minoring in Physics

    This affects how many modules in each subject you study throughout your degree.

    'Sandwich' courses are an extra year long, you still leave with a Bachelor's degree however a year is spent doing work experience or travelling abroad, depending on the course content. Student finance will cover you for the extra year so you do not need to worry that the course is a year longer than usual.

    In terms of grading your work, the system is very different from A-levels and is as follows (for most courses, depending on what/where you study):

    1st - 70%+
    2.1 - 60-69%
    2.2 - 50-59%
    3rd - 40-49%

    Most people graduate with a 2.1, which is required for entry onto postgraduate courses and graduate vacancies, but exceptions are sometimes made for people who get a 2.2. Assessment varies from exams to reports, essays and presentations. In many cases, the first year of your three year course doesn't count towards your final degree classification, but double-check this with your tutors.

    If you don't want to apply for an honours degree, foundation degrees exist which equate to the first two years of an honours degree and integrate work experience into the qualification. You can top your foundation degree up into a full honours degree after graduation if the progression route is available so you can apply for graduate positions asking for a good honours degree.

    In terms of requirements to actually get into university, some unis prefer to ask for A-level grades while others use the UCAS tariff system. For example, if a course were to ask for BBB this is equivalent to 300 UCAS tariff points. To figure out how many points you're estimated to leave college with, have a look at the tables (A-levels are referred to in the 'GCE and VCE' table) on this website: http://www.ucas.ac.uk/students/ucas_.../tarifftables/ From this you can decide which universities to look at in terms of their entry requirements and what is suitable for you.
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    (Original post by SpicyStrawberry)
    University terminology and the application process can be quite complicated, you are not alone and you certainly aren't stupid for being unsure about how it all works! Is there anything specifically you want to know? What was said to you that you didn't understand?
    Thank you so much, this is exactly what everyone else seemed to know and was worrying me. Have you got any idea how a physics degree works? Like, do you do a year of physics, then specialise?
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    (Original post by KnapAttackUK)
    Thank you so much, this is exactly what everyone else seemed to know and was worrying me. Have you got any idea how a physics degree works? Like, do you do a year of physics, then specialise?
    With physics (and other science subjects) you can either do a 3 year BSc degree, or a 4 year MSci undergraduate masters. Either way, you're mainly doing physics for the whole course - you may have some free choice, but probably not as much as you're hoping.
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    (Original post by Juno)
    With physics (and other science subjects) you can either do a 3 year BSc degree, or a 4 year MSci undergraduate masters. Either way, you're mainly doing physics for the whole course - you may have some free choice, but probably not as much as you're hoping.
    I mean do you get to choose whether you do mainly cosmology or mechanics, etc? Or do you pick a cosmology course when applying?
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    (Original post by KnapAttackUK)
    I mean do you get to choose whether you do mainly cosmology or mechanics, etc? Or do you pick a cosmology course when applying?
    Different universities will offer different modules. If you check a uni's website you should be able to find out what the compulsory modules are for the degree which are the ones you'll have to do. These will vary so make sure you pick a uni with compulsory modules you are happy to do. There are then optional modules where you get a choice. Normally all or all but one of your first year modules are compulsory ones, then as you progress through to later years you get to choose more options.

    For a course just called 'Physics' there is likely to be a wide range of modules but if there is a particular area you want to study then you'll need to check the uni offers it as a module (and how popular it is if it's an optional one as they will often withdraw modules that not enough people choose to take). I have no idea if there are specialist degrees in those areas of Physics but you could search the UCAS website for them if you would rather focus the whole 3 years on one area.


    Also just in case you look up modules on uni websites and get confused by 'credits' as I did I'll try to briefly explain them. They are nothing to do with your grades. Basically the credits represent how big the module is (eg 15 credits would be a 'half option', 30 credits a 'full option', 40 credits involving a bit more work than a standard 'full option', 5 credits being a 'detailed intro' to an area etc). You have to do 120 credits worth of modules per year, so basically you add up the credits attached to each compulsory module and minus it from 120. If you have some left you need to choose that amount of options. Whether you choose one 'full option', two 'half options' or another combination of available module choices is up to you.
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    (Original post by KnapAttackUK)
    I mean do you get to choose whether you do mainly cosmology or mechanics, etc? Or do you pick a cosmology course when applying?
    I can't speak for physics specifically, but the first year is often spent as a levelling-off period to make sure everyone is up to the same standard. There are usually just the standard base modules to make sure you're prepared for the rest of the course. You will study new material, but you may cover some A-level things too. It's just a gentle start to the degree. You will use the skills you know and have learnt, but at a more general level. I do engineering and in the first year we will learn computer design, but I am not expected to do a complete analysis of every design I make at the moment!

    The second year will be a development of the first year and you'll start to put these skills into practice. Generally just improve on what you've done and give it some real-world context. So, a first year module called "engineering mathematics" will lead into "analytical modelling" for the second year. So on and so forth.

    My third year will be spent in industry (placement year/sandwich year/industrial year. Whatever you want to call it). Thus, the second year skills will give you enough knowledge to start actual work, but is not quite fine tuned.

    The third year/fourth year (with placement) is where I pick my optional modules. I have four standard modules and I pick two further ones for things I want to specialise in. I'm not sure if it's a process of simply attending these modules or applying for them, but you will have to meet the necessary requirements from other modules (advanced mechanics may not be started without passing basic mechanics, as you can imagine) in order to go on these modules. The final year is where you really put your knowledge into action and advance your skills further.


    The university should have some sort of course information like this on its official website. If not, you could contact them. The timings may be slightly different based on each course or university, but I guess this is a typical overview of how each year works. You may also have specific projects (group or individual) to complete in this time.
 
 
 
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