In the UK, it is a requirement for all children of compulsory school age to receive a full-time education. As most children between the ages of 5 and 16 are sent to school, you may not even have to think about what this means. However, at other levels of education this is more important. In fact, during further education or higher education you will need to choose if you want to study full or part time. This is why it’s so important to understand what full-time education is.
In short, the number of hours classed as full-time education will depend on the type of education it is. At college, this can range from a little over 4 hours to about 20 hours face-to-face teaching per week. At university, full-time education will typically be about 33 hours of study per week. This is a combination of both independent and in-person study. Typically, teaching will be about 21 hours per week.
Continue reading for more information about full-time and part-time education in college, university, and other parts of the UK schooling system. If you are considering taking a course but not sure about the time commitment, this will be especially useful to you.
Table of Contents
How many hours is a full-time college course in the UK?
The number of hours a college course contains will fully depend on the nature of the subject. At college, you have plenty of options for what you want to study. College is typically associated with further education and level 3 qualifications. That said, you can also study qualifications of other difficulty, from Level 2 right through to higher education.
How many hours is an A-Level course?
One of the most traditional forms of education is A-Levels. These are typically studied full-time and will normally take two years to complete. Students will spend an average of 15 to 20 hours per week across all their subjects. As students normally take 3 or 4 A-Levels at once, this is about 5 hours of study per week per subject.
A-Levels consist of in-person teaching, so these 5 hours will mainly be done in school or college. However, you will also be expected to complete some independent work such as homework or revision. For more information about the hours spent on A-Levels look at this article from The Student Room.
How many hours is a BTEC course?
You can also study BTECs at college. This can either be at level 2 (GCSE standard) or BTEC Nationals, which are level 3 and equivalent to A-Levels. For more information about these levels look at this governmental guide.
Level 2 BTEC First Certificates normally take about 180 guided learning hours in total. As these are normally taken over the course of an academic year, this will translate into just over 4.5 hours per week. The academic year in the UK is 39 weeks in total. For more information about how the academic year is structured, check out this article from Anglo Info.
As more advanced qualifications, BTEC Nationals require quite a bit more time. Each course requires about 1080 hours of guided learning. Please note that this qualification is typically studied over 2 years when full-time. This translates to almost 14 hours per week in a UK academic year. For more information about the hours of a BTEC qualification look at this guide.
How many hours is a Higher National Certificate?
Whilst college students are usually studying for further education, you can also do higher education. This article explains the difference between further and higher education and how each can be taken at college.
One way of receiving higher education at college is through a Higher National Certificate (HNC). If you study the HNC full-time then it will normally take a single year to complete. HNCs are normally worth 12 university credits at degree level.
One credit is equal to 40 hours in classes, lectures, and seminars as well as 40 hours of independent study. This adds up to a total of 960 hours study throughout the year for a HNC. You will need to complete about 480 hours of taught study and the same amount independently.
How many hours is a Higher National Diploma?
Alternatively, you can study a Higher National Diploma (HND). This is one level above a HNC and is equivalent to the first two years of an honour’s degree. HNDs normally take 2 years to complete if studied full-time.
They are made up of 30 credits, equating to a total 2400 hours across the two years. Per year, you want to spend 1200 hours on taught study and 1200 hours of independent study to complete. This is about 600 for each in each year.
For more information about the hours required for full-time HNCs and HNDs, as well as a general guide to Higher National qualifications, click here and read the Prospects website.
How many hours is a part-time college course in the UK?
Once again, the hours required for part-time study will depend on the type of course being taken. This could be any of the qualifications mentioned previously, such as a Level 2, an A-Level, BTEC National or some other type of further education. It may even be higher education, such as a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or a Higher National Diploma (HND).
In England, it is compulsory for all children between the ages of 16 and 18 to be in some kind of further education. While this is normally full-time at a college or sixth form, there are some other options.
Part-time college is typically 12 hours per week or less. These hours will normally be spread over 2 or 3 days in the week. This is usually in the format of an apprenticeship or traineeship. For more information about the school leaving age in the UK, England especially, look at this guide from the Government.
How many hours is a full-time university course?
On average, full-time university students do around 21 hours of study per week. However, as different universities teach in separate ways, this can vary based on which one you go to. The course you study and the modules you are either required or choose to do can also influence how many hours you end up doing in a week. For more information about these hours, look at this article from University Campus St Albans (UCSA).
Full-time university students are expected to do 120 credits per year. This translates into 1200 hours of study throughout the entirety of the year. For more information about the hours which should be spent either part or full time, check out this guide from the Open University.
As there are three semesters, each lasting 12 weeks, there’s about 36 weeks in the university academic year. For more information about the weeks in a semester at university, check out this article. This means that you are expected to do an average of 33.3 hours of study each week.
However, due to the nature of certain tasks, such as essays or dissertations, this figure combines both class work and independent study. Due to this, the total number of hours spent per week are very similar to that of A-Level but are all dedicated to a single subject.
How many hours is a part-time university course?
The number of hours studied per week for part-time university course varies drastically. This is because there is usually no actual time limit for completing most tasks, especially as they are often designed to fit your busy schedule. The only definite rule surrounding hours is that part-time should require noticeably less study than full-time on a week-by-week basis.
As less time is allocated to them each week, part-time degrees typically take twice the amount of time to complete. This means that students take about 60 credits per year, which equates to about 600 hours based on this guide from the University of Sunderland. This would mean that students need to study about 16-18 hours per week. This is a combination of taught and independent study.
What are the benefits of full-time education?
Knowing how many hours a week full-time education requires of you is great. It’s even better if you also know the differences between full-time and part-time education. However, both of these are useless if you don’t know what this really means for you as a student.
Continue reading the following headings to really understand the benefits of studying full-time. Additionally, you can check out this article on the UCAS website for more of the arguments for and against both full-time and part-time study.
Full-time education is quicker
With full-time education you study for more hours each week. Due to this, you will end up finishing the course a lot faster than if you were studying it part-time. This means that you will be able to go onto the next stage of your life faster.
The next level for you may be another stage of education such as a master’s degree, or simply going to your first job. The sooner you work your way through these stages, the faster you can make it to where you really want to be.
Full-time education puts full focus on study
Regardless of what your course is, whether this is at college or at university, you will be expected to do lots of independent work. This can manifest in different forms and the amount of it will vary depending on what you study and where.
For example, in college you are more likely to be set homework or coursework. In university you may have to do a presentation, dissertation, or report.
Studying full-time means that you are much more immersed in your education. This is incredibly useful so that no other tasks get in the way of your studies. It also means you are able to complete your work as soon as it gets set and in less time.
This in turn means that there will be less time between being taught the content and reiterating it through homework. What you learn should therefore be easier to remember.
What are the benefits of part-time education?
Whilst full-time education has many benefits, from finishing the course more quickly to focusing on education, it sometimes just isn’t possible. The concept of full-time education may even simply not appeal to you. Due to this, part-time education may be the mode for you.
Continue reading the following headings to learn more about part-time education’s benefits. You can also check out this article from the University of Bedfordshire where the information below is partially sourced from.
Part-time education is more flexible
With part-time education, you study far fewer hours in a week than you do with full-time education. This can help you to be far more flexible as it means that you have more time to do other things. This can be anything from volunteering to taking on a part-time or even possibly full-time job.
Having the flexibility to work or do other things as well as study can be great as it allows you to have a better work-life balance. This can be incredibly important to you especially if the other aspects of your life have greater priority to you than studying. In this way, part-time education may be the only reason you have time to study at all.
Part-time education can be easier to finance
Part-time education can give you more time for the other aspects of your life. This includes working, which you can gain an income from, potentially to finance your studies.
However, this can also be put towards living expenses, put into savings, or used for other aspects of your life. Please note you should very carefully consider how much time you available outside studying so that you can stay on top of your work.
On top of this, already having a job before officially going into the workplace can give you necessary skills and experience needed. It can help you to progress further in your career faster as your employability will be more appealing than other candidates who have no work experience. As a result of this, you may even be able to increase your earnings as a result of studying part-time.