One thing about studying abroad you may not understand until you get there is the grading system, and just like everywhere the UK grading scheme has its own system you need to be aware of.

Understanding how the UK grading system works, not only allows you to strive for the grade you want or lets you see how well you’ve done. But also lets you plan ahead. By having a prospective grade, you want to achieve, you can research the entry requirements for postgraduate study and graduate jobs. This article will explain each classification in the UK grading scheme and what it can mean for you. This article explains the undergraduate classification system. If you’re a student in the UK and wondering how it works, read on:

Undergraduate UK Grading Scheme

Firstly, it’s important to distinguish the two types of undergraduate degrees. You have a normal degree were you merely pass or fail the course and you have a degree with honours. A degree with honours is much more popular as it allows employers and postgraduate admission officers to understand how strong your degree is. This article will discuss the degree with honours.

Secondly, it’s also important to understand that each year in your (usually) 3-year course is weighted with 120 credits – 20 credits per module. Which gives you an overall average mark. Typically though it’s in your 3rd year that the marks really contribute to your overall degree classification.

First Class (1st)

Or commonly known as a 1st, is the highest grade you can possibly achieve. You need an overall mark of at least 70%, so if you managed a 1st then well done. All your hard work, effort and sacrifice has paid off. Or if you’re just one of those naturally clever people, then still, well done. By having a first-class degree, you really shine out from the rest in your class. Only around 25% of students accomplish this. Which obviously makes you much more attractive to employers.

Upper Second Class (2.1)

Simply known as a 2.1, is a degree with an overall mark between 60% – 69%. A 2.1 is a very respectable grade and a grade that most students achieve. Around half of all students score a 2.1. Most graduate employers and postgraduate courses do look for at least a 2.1, putting you in a very good position.

Lower Second Class (2.2)

Known as a 2.2, is a degree with an overall mark between 50% – 59%. Not to despair however, although this may not be the degree you wanted, by having a 2.2 there are still plenty of opportunities out there for you. Having a 2.2 is normally the minimum requirement for employers and postgraduate study. Around 20% of students graduate with a 2.2.

Third Class (3rd)

Commonly referred to as a third is lowest passing grade in a degree with honours. A third-class degree is a degree with an overall mark between 40% – 49%. Under 5% of students graduate with a third. By achieving a third means your graduate opportunities can be quite limited, so it might be best to discuss this with your tutor and careers advisors what options there is for you.


By scoring an overall mark of under 40% means you have failed. It may be easy to just give up, but again see your tutor and careers advisor to see what options there are for you. You could possibly resit or take final year again. Especially so if you were under extreme personal extenuating circumstances.

The Undergraduate UK Grading Scheme Summed Up

I hope you now have a clearer understanding of how the UK grading scheme works for undergraduate courses with honours. If you are thinking about post graduate study, then do check out or blog post on how the UK grading scheme works for post graduate study. If you’re struggling and feel as if you might not achieve the grade you want. Then do check out our article on tips on how to study more productively.

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