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What is a Top-up degree?

A person walking up steps

What is a Top-up degree? What do you top up? And what are you topping it up to? This week’s blog answers some of the most common questions we receive about our undergraduate Top-up degree courses…


What is a Top-up degree?

A Top-up degree is equivalent to the final year of an undergraduate degree. These courses are aimed at students who have previously completed a related foundation level degree (or equivalent, e.g. an HND) and they provide a route for students to achieve a Bachelors degree.

Top-up degrees enable students to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding of a particular topic while also receiving an internationally-recognised qualification.

A Top-up degree does not allow you to top up a Bachelors degree to a Bachelors degree with Honours [a ‘BA (Hons) degree’].


How long does it take to complete?

The indicative study duration of a Top-up degree at University of Essex Online is 16 months of part-time study. Our 100% online and part-time courses require a recommended 10-15 hours of study per week, per module.

Students are also able to complete their studies faster than the indicative course duration by doubling up on modules at certain times; however, minimum study durations do apply.


How much does it cost?

The annual tuition/course fee for a University of Essex Online Top-up degree is £4,500. And the full course fee is £6,000.

However, many UK or EU undergraduate students living in England are eligible for a government-backed student loan from Student Finance England. This means that you don’t have to pay any tuition fees up-front as the loan covers the full cost of your course.

If you are not eligible for a tuition fee loan, we offer a simple monthly payment plan to spread the cost of your tuition fee. In addition, anyone will receive a 10% discount if they pay the full course fee payment up-front.

Want to learn more about student loans? Read our blog “Part-time student finance questions and answers


What are the entry requirements?

In order to start a Top-up course with University of Essex Online, you must have completed one of the following:

  • A relevant Foundation degree or an HND from University of Essex Online or another recognised institution ; or
  • Two years of a relevant BA (Hons) degree from a recognised institution; or
  • A relevant Higher National Diploma (HND) from a recognised institution.

And if English is not your first language, your English ability should be equivalent to IELTS (Academic) 6.0.

One important thing to note about any previous qualification you are using to gain entry onto a Top-up course is that it must be relevant, i.e. if you wish to join a business Top-up course, your previous qualification must be in a business-related subject area.


What Top-up degrees does the University of Essex Online offer?

We currently offer two Top-up degree courses: our BA (Hons) Business and Management (Top-up) and our BA (Hons) Criminal Justice (Top-up).

These courses allow you to top-up your existing qualification to a degree-level qualification. They are ideal if you are looking to progress your career and can also provide a stepping stone to future postgraduate studies.

As we are a 100% online university, we utilise a virtual learning environment instead of a traditional campus. The system tracks and manages the learning process in real-time and provides you with immediate access to your learning materials. You’ll also be supported throughout your course by a dedicated Student Adviser and have the opportunity to regularly interact with fellow students and your tutor.

Ready to apply? Get started!