The UK University Grading System: A Guide


18th April 2024

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Navigating the grading system in UK universities is fundamental for students aiming to excel in their academic pursuits. This blog post delves into the structure of the UK university grading system, shedding light on its nuances and providing insights into how students are assessed.

How Does the UK University Grading System Work?

The UK university grading system is based on a classification scale that categorises students’ academic performance. The main grades include First, Upper Second (often referred to as 2:1), Lower Second (2:2), Third, and Fail. These grades are assigned based on the overall performance in assessments throughout the academic year.

UK University Grades Explained

First Class (First)

Achieving a First-class degree is the highest level of academic achievement. It signifies exceptional performance, demonstrating a profound understanding of the subject matter and consistently high-quality work. Typically, around 70-100% of the overall assessment is required for a First-class degree. First-class graduates are typically well-rounded individuals who excel in critical analysis and contribute original insights to their field of study. 

Upper Second Class (2:1)

A 2:1 is a strong performance, indicating a solid grasp of the material and consistently good academic ability. Generally, a score between 60-69% is required for a 2:1 classification. This grade is highly regarded by employers and academic institutions. Graduates with an Upper Second often possess strong analytical skills, effective communication abilities, and the capacity to apply theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios.

Lower Second Class (2:2)

A 2:2 represents a satisfactory level of achievement. While it may not be as competitive as a First or 2:1, it still demonstrates a reasonable understanding of the subject matter. Typically, a score between 50-59% is needed for a 2:2 classification. Graduates with a 2:2 may excel in specific areas within their field and showcase competent research and analytical skills.

Third Class (Third)

Earning a Third-class degree signifies a fundamental grasp of the subject matter but with significant academic performance constraints. Those with a Third may have achieved an overall assessment score ranging from 40% to 49%, indicating course completion. However, they may encounter difficulties accessing specific career paths that require higher academic achievements.


Failing to meet the minimum requirements for a degree results in a Fail grade. This may require resubmission of assessments or repeating modules to attain the necessary credits for graduation.

How Are UK Students Assessed?

Assessment methods in UK universities vary depending on the course and institution. Common assessment types include:

  • Examinations: Timed assessments testing knowledge and understanding of course material.
  • Essays: Written assignments that require critical analysis and coherent argumentation.
  • Coursework: Practical projects, reports, or presentations.
  • Dissertations: Independent research projects conducted in the final year of study.
  • Presentations: Verbal presentations of research findings or project outcomes.

Continuous evaluation throughout the academic year contributes to the final grade, ensuring a comprehensive assessment of students’ capabilities and academic progress.

How We Can Help You Write a Personal Statement for UK Universities

Understanding the UK university grading system is crucial for students aspiring to pursue higher education in the UK. It provides a framework for assessing academic performance and sets clear expectations for achievement. 

If you’re considering studying in the UK and need assistance crafting a compelling personal statement, we’re here to support you. Our team of experienced writers can guide you through the process, ensuring your personal statement reflects your unique aspirations and academic journey. Contact us today to embark on your UK university application journey with confidence.