Higher education is an exciting opportunity that is available to you when you are 18 or older and have finished Sixth Form or College.

People can access higher education to prepare them for a specific career path, or to explore a particular interest. You will typically study for three years and focus on one or two subjects, so by the time you finish your course and graduate you’ll have become an expert in a field you love!

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Leave a message in the Community Chat. If you'd rather email, the team are available Monday to Friday and will respond as quickly as possible.


Jargon buster

We're here to help you understand some of the key terms that are used most when we talk about higher education.


A place where a university's buildings are located, such as accommodation, academic departments, libraries, labs, lecture theatres and small study spaces.

A university that is situated on one site, with student accommodation, teaching and research facilities and social events located all together.

A university that has buildings spead out across a city. You may have to walk to a different street or different part of the city for teaching or to go to the library.

Some universities have this system, where you are placed into a college in your first year. At York we have nine colleges and you are placed into, one based on your accomodation allocation.

The colleges are a good way to make new friends, play sport at a less competitive level and get involved in volunteering and other activities. Colleges help you to feel like you are part of a community and not just lost in the thousands of students at the University.

The qualification you recieve at the end of your higher education studies.

A 1st Year university student.

The award ceremony at the end of your degree where you celebrate your academic achievements with family and friends. This is where university students wear a cap and gown and recieve their degree certificate.

When you have completed and graduated from an undergraduate degree course.

A structured training programme run by an employer to develop future leaders of their organisation. In order to apply for these opportunities, you need to either already have a degree or be working towards completing one.

The level of education you undertake after you have completed post-16 studies (such as A levels and BTECs). You might study a HE course at a university, in a further education college or with an online provider.

A higher level of study you can take once you have completed and graduated from an undergraduate degree course.

A book or online document containing general information about a university, as well as specific course information.

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), is the main application service for higher education courses. The UCAS website also provides lots of useful information on applying to higher education, student finance, choosing a course and place to study.

The first level of study in higher education, if you are studying for your first degree.


A degree course that focuses on arts and humanities subjects, such as English Literature, History, languages.

A degree course that focuses on the sciences, such as Biology, Chemistry, Psychology.

Time spent wih members of university teaching staff. The main examples are lectures, seminars and labs.

Typically completed in your final year, an extended essay ranging from 8,000 to 12,000 words. This provides an opportunity to delve into a specific subject area that really interests you and to do your own research. You will be assigned a supervisor within your academic department who will help along the way.

A university committed to carrying out a significant amount of brand new research in the hope of making new discoveries. The research is carried out by academics who then teach students about their research. Often, students support academics with their work, particularly postgraduate students who have already completed one degree course.

A group of university departments concerned with a major division of knowledge. There are three faculties at the University of York: the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Within the faculties are all the different departments that your course will be a part of. For example, the Department of History will be in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

A degree that allows you to study more than one subject, such as Mathematics and Computer Science, Spanish and Linguistics, Sociology and Education. Although you would be studying two subjects, you graduate with one degree.

If you study a science-based subject, these are sessions where you gain practical experience of the science techniques described in lectures. Afterwards you will usually have to write a report about what happened.

A talk given by a member of academic staff about their research, ideas and theories to a large group of students, typically taking place in a large hall. Lectures usually help to guide independent learning and understanding of a particular topic.

Someone who teaches you and gives lectures. They can have lots of different titles, such as Doctor or Professor, depending on their qualifications and their position within the university.

A class that you take as part of your course. You will have modules that are core, and others that you can choose yourself. They often last for a term or sometimes a full year, and offer a chance to focus on a specific topic within your subject.

A week in the middle of term where there is no scheduled teaching (lectures or seminars). You are expected to fill your time with independent study. It will depend on your course as to whether you get a reading week, and not all students get one.

This is another word for term that some universities use instead.

A lesson that involves a smaller group of students who meet with an academic tutor to discuss a subject in depth. The discussion could expand on the topic of a lecture or your own reading. Typically, you would be expected to prepare for a similar by doing allocated work in advance. Seminars provide a good opportunity to ask lots of questions.

An extended period of work experience that you can undertake, looking to add an element of real life professional development as part of your degree programme.

This opportunity allows you to better prepare yourself for the workplace, and develop practical skills as well as academic ones. A job could be offered, upon completeing your degree, if you who excel during their time working in industry.

Living at university

A type of accommodation where meals are included as part of your rent. They are usually served in a canteen close to where your bedroom is.

If you choose to live at 'home' and travel to get to university, you will be a community student.

During her time at studying at the University of York, our Graduate Ambassador Hollie chose to live at home with her parents and travel by car to university to attend her lectures and seminars. Living at home while completing her degree provided her with a sense of routine, which suited her well. Even though she was living at home, Hollie felt she was still very much a part of student life by joining societies and being a member of one of our nine colleges.

A bedroom with its own bathroom attached. If your room is not en-suite, you will share a bathroom with other students.

Student life

Your first week as a university student, involving lots of introductory talks, social events and taster sessions. This week is designed to introduce new students to their university and course.

An opportunity to be part of a group of people who share an interest in a similar thing. Through being part of a society you can meet and socialise with students within or from outisde from your degree, star in a sell-out show learn about another country, join together in worship, start a new sport or hobby and so much more.

Societies often collaborate with one another to put on joint sessions or events, and they’re all open to everyone. Some are even completely free to join!

Contact us

Leave a message in the Community Chat. If you'd rather email, the team are available Monday to Friday and will respond as quickly as possible.