Bachelor Graduation – An analysis of my UK degree classification

I am officially a university graduate! My degree title is Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Marketing and Music & Media Management.

I am a university graduate!

The following paragraph is all about stroking my ego and helping maintain my healthy self-esteem. Afterall this is what I worked hard for the last three years.

I am proud to announce that while studying in my second language in a foreign country, and at the same time traveling the world and gaining professional experiences, I was able to achieve a First Class Honours Classification.

Final Award Confirmation

People outside the UK might ask themselves right now – What does that mean?

In the United Kingdom Bachelor degrees are awarded with or without honours, with the class of an honours degree based on the average mark of the assessed work a candidate has completed throughout their studies.

Below is a list of the possible classifications:

  • First class honours (1st) – (70% and above)
  • Second class honours, upper division (2:1) – (60% – 69.99%)
  • Second class honours, lower division (2:2) – (50% – 59.99%)
  • Third class honours (3rd) – (40% – 49.99%)
  • Ordinary degree (Pass) – (35%-39.99%)

In most universities, a first class honours degree is the highest honours which can be achieved, with approximately 11% of all candidates achieving ‘a first’ throughout the UK.

Let me share with you a few more insights on my story as a university student, as well as explain how you can calculate your final degree classification. At the end I will also have a quick look at a research paper that questions the meaningfulness of evaluating graduates based on their degree classification within the UK and abroad.


My journey as an undergraduate degree student in the UK started in January 2009 when I moved to London after three years working and studying in Johannesburg, South Africa.

I had chosen to move back to Europe to pursue a Bachelor degree at the London Metropolitan University, a London-based university with one of the most culturally and socially diverse student and teaching bodies from around the world, located in the media capital of Europe.

My degree combined studies in Marketing, as well as Music & Media Business Management. I wrote down some of my initial plans for my time at university here.LMBS

During my first summer break (2009) I organised a very inspiring internship working directly with the Head of Marketing & PR of the internationally successful TV Commercial Production company “Velocity Films” in Johannesburg.

Velocity Films

After successfully finishing my first year of university in London, I moved to Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus at the beginning of 2010. For the following semester I studied as an ERASMUS exchange student at the University of Nicosia. I had a wonderful and successful intercultural experience on this beautiful, sunny mediterranean island, surrounded by students from across the globe.


In June 2010 I wrapped up my final exams in Cyprus and jumped onto the next jumbo jet via London and Joburg. I fulfilled one of my dreams by moving to the Mother City, Cape Town in South Africa. During the following three months I was blessed to experience the Soccer World Cup 2010, while at the same time working on some exciting projects with Coza Productions, a small multimedia marketing production company.

Coza Productions

After returning to London in September 2010, I spent the following 9 months focusing on my studies back at London Met. My hard work paid off with straight As throughout the year.

After successfully completing my first semester of my third year in June 2011, I again set out to explore the world. This time it was time to return to the United States, where I had once lived and attended High School in Pittsburgh in 2003/2004. As I had already discovered the East Coast, it was now time to check out the West Coast. The itinerary said: London Heathrow to San Diego International Airport. Time to experience the Californian way of life!

The following three months turned out to be one amazing life experience after another. One highlight to mention was my road trip from coast to cost 3000 miles driving from San Diego, California across the US to Providence, Rhode Island. Besides enjoying the sun, I secured another intriguing internship working for the MEDIA ARTS Center San Diego.

MEDIA ARTS Center San Diego

The last semester in London from Sept 2011 – Feb 2012 was challenging and rewarding. And all my hard work paid off with a First Class Honours Bachelor degree (final award average 77.3%) and many wonderful life experiences.I am proud to say that I achieved 21 out of 25 A grades throughout my degree.

My final management research project is titled “Leveraging mobile video: an investigation of sustainable business strategies for content providers”. The paper examines how media businesses can integrate the mobile platform into their content distribution strategy to monetize the growing commercial value of mobile video.

You can find more writing examples of my assignments here.

And now for me and my fellow class mates the time has come to celebrate our achievements and progress to a new stage in our lives, may it be postgraduate studies, a graduate career, travelling the world, or maybe just sitting on the couch watching Californication all day long :-).


Lets have a look at how the final award classification gets calculated at London Metropolitan University.

Calculating the degree classification is based on the second and third years with a one-third weighting given to the second year modules and a two-third weighting given to the final level modules.

In order to graduate a student must pass 14 of 16 intermediate (2nd year) and honours (3rd year) level modules and achieve at least 25% in the remaining two modules.

The final award calculation is based on the best 15 module results at intermediate and honours level.

Take the best 6 honours (3rd year) level results and divide by 6. This mark is worth two-thirds (66.66%) of the final award classification (divide by 100, then multiply by 66.66).

Then take the remaining 9 honours (3rd year) and intermediate (2nd year) results and divide by 9. This mark is worth one-third (33.33%) of the final award classification (divide by 100, then multiply by 33.33).

At the end add both marks together to get the final classification average.

Where a student is within 3% of a higher classification he/she may be upgraded if at least half the marks (8 out of 15) are in the higher class. This means if you achieved 8 As in your second and third year, you will be awarded a First Class Honours with a final average of 67%.

Here are my results for all my modules across three years at university:

Marian's Module Results

Calculating Marian’s final award classification:

1. BEST 6 HONOUR LEVEL RESULTS (counting 66.66% towards final average):

  • 93% / 78% / 75% / 74% / 73% / 73%
  • AVERAGE = 77.66%
  • 66.66% counting towards final average = 51.77

2. REMAINING 9 BEST HONOURS & INTERMEDIATE RESULTS (counting 33.33% towards final average):

  • 85% / 83% / 80% / 75% / 75% / 75% / 75% / 75% / 70%
  • AVERAGE = 77%
  • 33.33% counting towards final average = 25.66


  • 51.77 + 25.66 = 77.43%!

AWARD CLASS = First Class Honours (70% and above)



The following section is based on a study conducted by John Curran and Guglielmo Volpe at London Metropolitan University. The  paper “Degrees of freedom: An analysis of degree classification regulations” looks at the regulations concerning the determination of the degree classification in 58 British universities.

What is the importance of degree classifications?

The degree class is used as a screening device by potential employers. One of the first discriminating factors in the selection of job applications is the degree classification held by the applicant.

Employers seek pre-entry characteristics to source the best graduates. Employers see the classification system as an indicator of what they can expect from the degree holder. A first class degree is seen as being excellent, while an upper second is characterised as good and a lower second is satisfactory.

Holders of a first class degree experience a greater probability of employment than graduates with upper and lower seconds, and third class degrees respectively. The importance of having the right degree class can be seen in the fact that a first class or an upper second class degree class constitute the prerequisites for most job openings.

If the degree class is used by employers to compare graduates’ capabilities it is necessary for there to be a high degree of comparability between the regulations used in determining the degree class awarded.

Does the degree classification provide an objective evaluation of capabilities?

John Randall (2000) in his function as Chief Executive of the Quality Assurance Agency wrote in the Times Higher Education that “if a qualification is to be sub-divided to represent differing levels of achievement, there should be a common and understood basis for that sub-division. Degree classification fails miserably to offer a common yardstick. It is not consistent over time. […] Degree classification is not consistent among institutions and there are no agreed criteria across all institutions and subjects. It is not even consistent within individual institutions. […] Grading decisions may be highly subjective. […] It is an inadequate and poorly calibrated means of representing student achievement.”

The research of John Curran and Guglielmo Volpe reflects a high degree of heterogeneity concerning the degree classification regulations adopted across British universities. and, in some cases, also within the same institution. Degree classification also has little validity as a measure of achievement in a modular, multidisciplinary programme.

Students with similar mark profiles are awarded different degree classes depending on the institution that they attend. It is possible for a student to be awarded an upper second at one university but a first if they were at another university in the same country.

“…the degree classification procedures followed by most British institutions of higher education fail to conform to the basic principles of comparative justice, waste valuable resources and serve no useful purpose.” (Curran and Volpe)

In conclusion, the introduction of a clear, consistent and transparent award system adopted by all UK universities would be required for the degree classification system to fulfill its purpose.

Should the classification system be scrapped or transformed?


What award classification did you achieve and how has it impacted your career progression?

Do you now understand how to calculate your final award?

Please share with me what your opinion is about the system of award classifications and the 2:1 requirements for most job recruitment, considering the many differences between institutions across the UK?

Related Posts:
Semester 1 at London Met – Goel setting, Career Exploration & Reflection
Impressions of studying at London Met in the world-city London!
Studium in London – Teuer, aber toll


3 responses

  1. Hi, just stumbled upon this while I was doing some research on how to work out my final grade. Thanks, it was very helpful as I went to London Met too. Your grades are very impressive. Aren’t you a smarty pant! Well done. love your dedication to move around and explore the world. Good luck with everything life throws at you.

  2. Hey Marian,

    Thank you for posting the ‘how you work your classification out’ on here…
    We’ve just had our marks confirmed from LMU but were not told how they worked out our final classification. I stumbled upon this and shared it in our group. You’ve put many minds at rest.

    Thank you! 🙂 x

    1. Hey Jai, I am glad my post helped you. Thanks for sharing. I hope that this way of calculating the classification is still current. Congrats for graduating.

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