Doing another degree later in life

08 July 2014

Fancy sharpening up your braincells with a return to learning? It's never too late. Here's a few tips on how to gain success by degrees.

How does the modern degree system work?

The modern modular system for degrees gives mature students far more flexibility. To gain an honours degree, a student needs to earn 360 credits.

A bit like on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire', you can opt to stop after the first 120 credits, having safely earned a Certificate of Higher Education.The next 120 credits will earn you a Foundation Degree or Diploma.

Turn up the heat, accumulate the full 360 credits and become the proud owner of a first degree.

Read our job hunting tips for the over-50s.

Part-time and flexible learning

Many universities offer part-time degrees in Combined Studies or Humanities, so you can mix and match the units that most appeal to you. Some universities will allocate credits if you already have a qualification higher than A levels.

This system is known APL - Accreditation of Prior Learning - and can help speed the process of getting a degree.

If you decide you want to switch university, or put your study on hold, you can still keep the credits you have earned. They can then often be transferred to another university course in the future. But it's worth checking in advance.

Most universities also have Lifelong Learning Departments to cater for mature students. Check on the university websites for details.

What are the rules around working part-time in retirement?

Masters and Doctors

If you already have a BA or BSc, you can shimmy up the academic ladder by taking a Masters.

Your first degree may be a few decades old, but as long as it was of a reasonable standard, then age is no obstacle to continuing your education.

MAs can be taught or just research led. It's best to trawl around a few University websites to see what is on offer.

If you already have a first degree or Masters and a passion for researching a specific subject, you can aim even higher for an MPhil or a PhD at any age.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.