Words to know before you apply

We know there's a lot to take in when you're preparing to go to university so we've put together this guide to the terms you'll be coming across during the application process and once you embark on your university course.

From the basics such as the difference between and undergraduate and a postgraduate to terms such as Adjustment, Clearing and Buzzword - we've got it covered.

 

The Basics

Bachelor’s Degree
A three (or sometimes four) year degree course also known as an Undergraduate Degree.

BA
Stands for ‘Bachelor of Arts’ degrees which are awarded to successful graduates of a degree courses which are Arts and Humanities subjects e.g. BA English, BA Criminology and Criminal Justice

BA (QTS) / BSc (QTS)
Stands for ‘Bachelor of Arts / Science with Qualified Teacher Status’ degrees which are awarded to successful graduates of a degree course which also leads to qualified teacher status e.g. BA (QTS) Primary Education, BSc (QTS) Design and Technology Secondary Education

BEng
Stands for ‘Bachelor of Engineering’ degrees which are awarded to successful graduates of a degree course in Engineering e.g. BEng Electronic Engineering

BSc
Stands for ‘Bachelor of Science’ degrees which are awarded to successful graduates of a degree courses which are science subjects e.g. BSc Zoology, BSc Computer Science

Degree
A qualification awarded by Universities in recognition of the recipient having completed 3 years of full time study at university level.

Foundation Degree
A vocational qualification awarded by Universities and further education colleges in recognition of the recipient having completed two years of full time study at the level directly below the level of an honours degree.

Gap Year
An academic year (or similar period of time) taken by a student as a break between school/college and University. Students often go travelling, work, intern and/or volunteer during a gap year.

HE
Short title often used for ‘Higher Education’ which means study at a University at  degree level or higher.

Honours Degree
An undergraduate degree of superior academic standard where the student is awarded one of the following:

1st - First Class
2.1 - Upper Second Class
2.2  - Lower Second class
3rd – Third Class

Those who complete a full honours degree but obtain a very low pass mark may receive what is known as an ‘Ordinary or Unclassified degree’ – which does not give the graduate the right to add ‘(Hons)’

HE Institution
Colleges, Universities or Conservatoires which provide higher education courses.

Joint / Combined Honours
A degree programme which involves studying more than one area of study /or a combination of subjects. Joint Honours Degrees e.g. Childhood Studies and Social Policy, Welsh and Sport Science. Combined Honours Degrees e.g. Italian, French and German.

Masters
A further course of study qualifying an individual to a level above undergraduate study but below obtaining a doctorate (PhD)

Postgraduate
Study beyond the level of undergraduate degree in order to obtain further qualifications and/or degrees e.g. Masters, PhDs

PGCE
‘Postgraduate Certificate of Education’ – a one year course for students who already possess undergraduate degrees that qualifies them to teach at either a Primary or Secondary level

Prospectus
A printed booklet (or online document) with a summary of the courses that a University provides as well as information about the University, area, entry requirements etc.

Undergraduate
A student working towards a first degree e.g. studying a 3 year Bachelor’s Degree in Biology BSc

UCAS
Stands for ‘Universities and Colleges admissions Service’ in the UK. UCAS provides several online application portals used to apply for Higher Education courses as well as free information and advice and a search tool holding information about Higher Education courses available in the UK.

Applying to University – UCAS application process

Adjustment
A service you can use after getting your results to see if you can get on a course with higher entry requirements if you’ve met and exceeded your conditions.

Admissions Tutors
The member of staff in every University department/school who is responsible for matters regarding admissions to particular courses. They are responsible for holding interviews as well as judging if a candidate should be offered a place or not.

Apply
The online UCAS application system used to apply to up to 5 different university courses at the same time.

Buzzword
A special word provided to UCAS undergraduate applicants by their school, college or centre so that their application can be linked to them. A buzzword is required when you register to apply through UCAS.

Centre
The School, college or organisation that help you apply to Universities through the UCAS application process

Clearing
A service that you can use after getting your results to look for alternative courses. Can be used if you didn’t get a place on a course you wanted

Conditional Offer
An offer of a place on a certain course at a University subject to you meeting the conditions set by the University (usually related to results of the qualification you are currently studying towards e.g. A Levels)

Confirmation
If you meet the requirements set out by a conditional offer then your offer will turn into an Unconditional one and your place is confirmed.

Deferral
If you would like to start a course a year later than the next available academic year e.g. you apply at the same time as students applying for a course starting in September 2015 but you want to start in September 2016

Entry Requirements
The UCAS points and/or qualifications required to get on to a specific course – possessing the requirement doesn’t always guarantee a place on a course as some require interviews, admissions tests etc.

Extra
A service you can use to apply for alternative places if you didn’t get an offer from any of your first five choices.

Firm Choice
The offer that you accept as your first choice. Should you reach the conditions of the offer (if there are any) you will automatically be accepted to attend the noted course.

Insurance Choice
The offer that you decide to accept as your second choice. If you don't reach the conditions of your Firm Choice, then you will be accepted to attend your insurance choice if you reach the conditions of that offer.

Open Day
An open day is when a University invites prospective students to visit the Institution and attend tours, lectures, presentations as well as an opportunity to speak to staff and current students and ask questions. These may also occasionally be called visit days.

Tariff
The ‘Undergraduate Tariff’ is the system that allocates a specific amount of points for different qualifications often used in the process of admissions to higher education – tariff points that are used are often known as UCAS points.

Track
The online system where you can check on the progress of your application – this is where you can see if you have been made an offer and will be able to accept/reject offers as well as accessing other services such as Extra and Adjustment

Unconditional Offer
An offer of a place on a certain course at a University without any conditions – if you choose to accept the offer then you will automatically attend the course regardless of exam results etc

Withdrawal
Either you as an applicant or a University or College can withdraw a choice before you have been made an offer.

Finance

Bursary
A non-repayable financial award given to students that match specific criteria. Bursaries can be awarded for a number of reasons such as household income, being a care leaver, studying a specific subject etc. The purpose of a bursary is to assist with the costs associated with attending University – it is awarded to the student themselves to spend as they need to.

DSA
Disabled Students’ Allowance – a non-repayable allowance for students with a disability, mental health condition or specific learning disability that can provide financial aid to pay for a variety of services, resources and equipment that facilitate undertaking a University course.

Maintenance Loan
A loan for students to pay for living costs while at University – it is paid directly to the student and needs to be paid back once the student is earning more than the stated threshold. A portion of the loan is non-financially assessed and another portion is financially assessed and the amount loaned to the student depends on household income.

Scholarships
A non-repayable financial award that is given to students that match specific criteria. Scholarships may be awarded on the basis of academic, sporting or musical excellence and some may be specific to certain subjects, students from certain schools, areas backgrounds etc.

Student Loan
A term often used to note both Maintenance and Tuition Fee Loans.

Tuition Fee Loan
The loan provided to students to meet the cost of tuition fees – it is paid directly to the institution and is non-income assessed.

Student Finance England
Student Finance Wales
Student Awards Agency Scotland
The respective services for England Wales and Scotland that provide information and guidance on financial help to HE students. They are also responsible for administrating the application process and awarding the appropriate finances to students.

University Life

Academic School
At Bangor University, subjects are grouped into academic ‘Colleges’ e.g. College of Arts and Humanities, which are then split into ‘Schools’ e.g. School of Music. Your course will be delivered within an Academic School in which your lecturers and personal tutor will be based.

Academic Year
The academic year at most Universities runs from mid-September to the end of May. The year is split into two semesters, the first from September to December, the second from January to May usually with assessment periods or exams at the end of both. There breaks for Christmas and Easter holidays and some students may have ‘reading weeks’ dependant on their course.

Alumni
A graduate of the Institution in question.

Athletic Union
The student run organisation that supports University sports clubs. The Athletic Union at Bangor University provides free membership to over 55 clubs and will often arrange events for the various clubs and students.

Assessment
Assessments are the University’s means of testing your knowledge of the subject you have been studying. Assessment methods can include, essays, presentations, practical tests, exams etc.

Campus University
A University where the whole institution is situated on one site. Teaching facilities, accommodation, libraries, leisure facilities are all on the same site and are within close proximity to each other. Bangor University feels like a campus University because everything is so close together but is probably best described as a city centre University.

City Centre University
A University where the institution is based within the centre of the city which it is located in but the buildings in the area are not exclusively University owned. At city centre Universities the University is integrated into the area and the community. Bangor University is a city centre University where all buildings are in walking distance.

Dissertation
A thesis/long essay usually written in the third year before completion of an undergraduate degree. It  is an essay on an original topic of research.

Freshers
Freshers is a casual term often used to describe first year students.

Freshers Week / Welcome Week / Induction Week / Orientation Week
A week where activities are planned in order to help new students settle in, introduce them to the University and their surrounding area, help them make friends, register for their course etc.

Graduate
A person who has completed their course at a specific institution and has been awarded their degree

Halls of Residence
University owned accommodation for students near the rest of the University. Halls of residence at Bangor University are all self-catering and are either en-suite or shared bathrooms. All first year undergraduate students are guaranteed a place in Halls of Residence at Bangor University.

Lecture
A lecture is an academic lesson where you are given a presentation on a specific topic – it is expected that you take notes during lectures and may need to refer back to them in exams, assignments etc. Lectures are often held in larger rooms and are more formal than other lesson types.

Modules
A programme of study specifically focused on one subject within a degree course. Students must study a specific amount of modules in order to obtain the required amount of credits to complete a degree course. e.g. Ecology and Evoloution as a module in the first year of a Zoology degree.

NUS
The National Union of Students. An organisation made up of over 600 University Students' Unions throughout the UK, which promote, defend and extend the rights of students.

NUS card
An NUS card is a student discount card run by the National Union of Students. University students can apply and pay a small fee to obtain a card and can then use it to get significant discounts at a variety of national and local businesses.

Registration
Registration is the process you must complete to inform your University that you have arrived and are present to begin your studies. Student loans and other finances may not be paid until you have registered at your University.

Semester
An academic ‘term’ of study. Semester 1 at Bangor runs from September to December, and semester 2 runs from January to May.

Seminar
A seminar is an academic session where you are required to participate in the discussion. Seminars are lead by an academic member of staff but group discussions and presentations by students are an important part of the session – less formal than a lecture and often held for smaller groups of students.

Students' Union
Students' Unions are organisations that are dedicated to supporting and representing the students at their respective universities. They work to enrich and advance the student’s experience and often negotiate changes in the University on behalf of the student population as well as organising events etc.