Explore Courses

UK Masters Grading System and More Useful Information

Updated on 15 April, 2024

Shivangi Mishra

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

The education system in the United Kingdom (UK) is recognized as one of the best in the world. The bachelors or UK masters grading system has contributed immensely to the country’s reputation for quality higher education, along with other merit and distinction grades UK. Several other countries have also adopted this system. You should gain a better understanding of the grading system before applying to universities. The grading system is quite similar across England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, while it may be different in Scotland. 

Get all your Study Abroad doubts clarified Now for FREE: Fix an Appointment Now


UK Grading System in Compulsory Education 

Compulsory education has four stages in the United Kingdom, with examinations at the end of each stage. Along with test scores, projects and participation in coursework are also evaluated for assessing overall performance. There are 8 levels with an extra one denoting Exceptional Performance. Assessment tests are thus mandatory at the ages of 7, 11, and 14. 

After completing compulsory education, students have to take their GCSE examination, which has two grading mechanisms. From 2018 onwards, grades across England are given from 1-9. The older GCSE methodology in Northern Ireland and Wales has grades given on a letter-based scale between A and G. 

UK Grading System for Higher Education

The higher education system of grading is known for its specific focus on academic performance and accomplishments. Similar grading systems are used by other countries like India, Australia, and Canada as well. A letter grading scale is used from A to F for indicating academic performance of students. A translates to outstanding performance while an F translates to the score being insufficient for passing the examination. 

Here is a table that will help you get the idea: 

Grade LetterPercentage ScoreGrade DefinitionDegree Class
    Honours DegreeFoundation Degree
A70% – 100%Excellent to Outstanding



B60% – 69%Good to Very GoodUpper Second 2:1Merit
C50% – 59%SatisfyingLower Second 2:2



D40% – 49%SufficientThird 3
E30% – 39%Unsatisfactory







F0 – 29%Unsatisfactory

UK Undergraduate Grading System 

Undergraduate degrees have the following classifications: 

  1. First-Class Honours (70% or more)
  2. Second-Class Honours (50%-70%)
  3. Third-Class Honours (40%-50%)

The first or first-class degree is the highest level of academic achievement. The minimum score should be 70% at least although it may change as per the university in question. The first year grades may not be accounted for at times for the final assessment. A second-class degree is either an upper or lower degree in this category. The former is a 2:1 degree with scores from 60%-69%. The lower second-class degree is 2:2 as per its classification. Third-class degrees have marks between 40%-49%. 

UK Masters Grading System

Masters degrees have a unique grading system with students getting either a Distinction, Pass, or Merit. Taught degrees are usually worth about 180 credits divided across modules (both optional and compulsory). Masters degree modules usually range between 10-30 credits for each, based on their required assessments and overall length. 

Grades for one module are based upon factors like the weighting of and also coursework or other examinations for analyzing subject knowledge. Varying assessments may also have different weightings for every individual module. Similarly, an individual assessment may be worth either a larger or smaller chunk of a module’s final evaluation and grade. 

A majority of masters courses conclude with the thesis or dissertation. This is evaluated as written work in the United Kingdom, with external examiners marking the same. The dissertation may have oral examinations at times. This usually translates to 60 credits, with other modules comprising 120 credits. 

This is a table that will help you get the idea: 

PercentageMasters grade
60-69%Merit / Commendation
40-49%Borderline Pass / Fail


Is 60% a good mark at Masters level in the UK?

Taught masters are usually taught as fail or pass although they are also graded as distinction and merit. 60% is usually sufficient for the merit grade and 70% is sufficient for the distinction grade. 


Is UK masters degree valuable?

Yes a masters program in the UK is always valuable, considering the global acceptance of the qualification. The UK offers masters courses at several reputed universities that offer hands-on learning while you can also get a two-year postgraduate work permit post completion of higher education in the UK. 


Do UK universities use the GPA system?

Universities in the UK do not make use of the GPA system. They have their own grading system. 





Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

She is an experienced writer and journalist who has extensively covered the education sector in India and Abroad. Now helping Indian aspirants realise their foreign education dream by providing them with relevant content and information through upGrad Abroad. Amateur traveller, loves to read Architectural Digest!

See More