Subjects and qualifications
The UK boarding school system is split into three levels.
is for children aged four or five up to 11 or 13. You might hear this referred to as primary school, infant school, junior school, pre-preparatory school or preparatory school. Secondary education
is for pupils aged 11 or 13 to 16. You might hear this referred to as secondary school, high school or senior school.
In the last two years of secondary school (age 14 to 16), most pupils study for GCSE qualifications. Alternatives include Standard grades and Intermediates in Scotland, or the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme. Sixth form
is for students aged 16 to 18. The two years are often called Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth. At sixth form level, most pupils take A-levels. Alternative qualifications include Standard Grades and Highers in Scotland, or the International Baccalaureate. Please see Further education for more details.
Boarding schools offer a wide range of subjects including maths, sciences, history, geography, drama, IT, literature and foreign languages. All of these qualifications are highly regarded by universities, colleges and employers in the UK and around the world.
The academic year
In the UK, the standard academic year starts in September or October and runs until June or July.
Postgraduate courses often run from September to September, and there are other courses that are more flexible and offer a range of start dates.
Subjects and modules
Most higher education courses have a ‘modular’ structure. This means that you can build a personalised course by choosing modules or units of study from different subject areas. For example, if you are studying English literature, for your first year you could choose one module on Science fiction, one module on Children’s literature, and one module on Short stories.
If you are interested in more than one subject, you may be able to study a combination as part of your course, e.g. English literature and psychology. You can often decide for yourself how much time you would like to spend on each subject. ‘Joint’ means the two subjects are studied equally, ‘major/minor’ means the time spent is usually 75 percent/25 percent.
Most full-time undergraduate courses take three years to complete (typically four years in Scotland). Full-time postgraduate courses can be from one year upwards.
Some degrees are available to study as accelerated courses taken over two years instead of three, so that you can gain your qualification even faster. Accelerated degrees have the same amount of modules as their three year options, allowing you to get even better value for money by getting the same course with a year less of living costs.
Part-time courses are normally taken over a longer period, so that you can work alongside your studies or learn at a more relaxed pace.