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Do you know your PG Cert from your PG Dip? Understanding 20 of the most common higher education abbreviations.


Higher education can sometimes be a daunting prospect, and that isn’t made any easier when you suddenly encounter a bunch of new and confusing acronyms. But don’t panic! We’re here to help you understand the qualifications represented by an MBA, an MPH and an MSc with our handy guide to 20 of the most common higher education abbreviations…


  1. APL – Accreditation of Prior Learning – Students with certain relevant qualifications may be exempt from some modules on our courses. This reduces the time needed to complete your University of Essex Online qualification, as well as reducing the full course fee you will be asked to pay.


  1. BA – Bachelor of Arts – An undergraduate qualification representing a course of higher education academic study. Many of our graduates use their Bachelors degree to get into a job or profession. Some go on to further postgraduate study, such as a Diploma or Masters degree.


  1. BTEC – Business and Technology Education Council – This is a secondary school leaving qualification and vocational qualification taken in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s equivalent to UK A Levels, more specifically to three A2 awards. It’s also the perfect qualification to prepare students for higher education.


  1. CertCE – Certificate of Continuing Education – A CertCE is the basic qualification that can be gained in higher education and shows that you are capable of studying successfully at university level. It is equal to 60 credits at level 4 — half of the first year of a degree course. This can be achieved as a stand-alone qualification or used as a stepping stone towards further education.


  1. GCSE – General Certificate of Secondary Education – This qualification is awarded in specific subjects to pupils in secondary education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. GCSEs are usually required if students wish to study for a higher education qualification. GCSEs are usually taken at the age of 16.


  1. GNVQ – General National Vocational Qualification – Last awarded in 2007, GNVQs related to occupational areas, rather than any specific job, and could be taken in a wide range of subjects. They could be studied alongside GCSEs or A Levels, and had two levels: intermediate and advanced.


  1. IELTS – International English Language Testing System – IELTS defines itself as the world’s proven English language test and continues to set the standard for English language testing today. To join an undergraduate course at University of Essex Online, if English is not your first language your English ability should be equivalent to IELTS (Academic) 6.0.


  1. LLB – Bachelor of Laws – An LLB is an undergraduate degree in law. The LLB offered by University of Essex Online is recognised as a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD) in England and Wales and is the first step if you are considering practising law professionally.


  1. LLM – Master of Laws – An LLM is an internationally recognised postgraduate law degree. Usually, LLM students need to first obtain a professional degree in law (e.g. the Bachelor of Laws) before studying for the LLM.


  1. MBA – Master of Business Administration – An MBA is a postgraduate qualification, usually earned after several years of managerial experience and the completion of a Bachelors degree, designed for those individuals who want to progress to executive and senior managerial positions.


  1. MPH – Master of Public Health – An MPH is a postgraduate qualification that provides students with a systematic and critical understanding of the key concepts underlying public health. The University of Essex Online MPH programme is aligned with the Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework and prepares students to enter an array of roles in professions revolving around public health.


  1. MSc – Masters – A Masters degree is a postgraduate qualification usually earned after the completion of a Bachelors degree. The two most common titles are the Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MSc). Students gain advanced understanding in a particular field and gain the skills to solve complex problems and think independently.


  1. NSS – National Student Survey – An independent and widely-recognised annual student census completed by students at all publicly-funded Higher Education Institutions in the UK. It measures aspects of each course through multiple-choice questions and student comments. We received an overall student satisfaction rating of 93% in the 2017 NSS.


  1. NVQ – National Vocational Qualifications – NVQs are recognised qualifications related to a particular industry or sector. There are eight levels of NVQ and these work-based awards are granted in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and achieved through assessment and training.


  1. PG Cert – Postgraduate Certificate – A PG Cert is a qualification awarded to a graduate of a higher education postgraduate programme. It provides students with specialised knowledge and also offers them the opportunity to progress on to study for a Postgraduate Diploma and a full Masters.


  1. PG Dip – Postgraduate Diploma – A PG Dip is a qualification awarded to a graduate of a higher education postgraduate programme. A postgraduate diploma typically represents 120 credits (whereas a full master’s degree is usually 180 credits).


  1. PhD – Doctor of Philosophy – This is a doctorate award, granted by many universities around the world. A person who attains a doctorate of philosophy is automatically awarded the academic title of doctor.


  1. THE – Times Higher Education – This weekly magazine is the UK’s leading publication in the field of news and issues related to higher education. The University of Essex currently holds a ranking of 22 in the “100 under 50” ranking category.


  1. UCAS – Universities and Colleges Admissions Service – This organisation operates the application process for British universities. They say, “As a centralised admissions service, we encourage students to consider courses and learning opportunities across the UK and promote choice.”


  1. UoEO – University of Essex Online – That’s us! We offer undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses online to both UK and international students that enable them to benefit from a flexible approach to study, while maintaining the quality and support you would expect from a top UK university. Download our prospectus today.