How Many Hours Is Classed As Full-time Education In The UK?

how many hours is full-time education uk
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Moving to college can be stressful for many students. New routines and environments can add uncertainty and worry to an already trying time, which is why many try to find out how many hours are full-time education in the UK.

Many college students will relocate to a new location to study, such as a separate campus or a school’s sixth-form facility. 

Changes to the hours and content of the classroom might make moving more difficult. It can be challenging to comprehend the exact number of hours required for college classes and how this fits into your overall schedule. 

But in this post, we’ll explain how many hours are classed as full-time education in the UK.   

Due to this level’s wide range of courses, full-time college programs in the UK have limited hours. However, for tax purposes, a full-time education at the post-16 level is defined as more than 12 hours per week spent in an educational setting.

While this should have provided you with a general response to your inquiries concerning timetables, they can frequently alter between various institutions, so please continue reading for the complete information on how many hours is full-time education in the UK.

What is a full-time vs. part-time student?

The amount of time you spend studying makes the biggest distinction between full-time and part-time students. 

By the time they finish the course, both full-time and part-time students have covered the same amount of information, but full-time students have done so more quickly and intensively, while part-time students have done it more slowly and over a longer period. 

Thanks to this, part-time students can frequently study about obligations to their families, jobs, and other obligations. 

Depending on the course, students may spend more or less time studying each week, but full-time students may study twice as much as part-time students.

A postgraduate master’s degree typically takes one year, while an undergraduate degree typically takes three to four years if you’re applying to study full-time. 

The time you spend finishing the course may be more flexible if you apply for part-time study.

Although some colleges allow you to prolong your study duration up to 10 years, most part-time undergraduate degrees take five or six years to complete. 

Part-time study for a postgraduate degree could last two years, while a PhD could require six or more years.

See also: What is Uni Grades? The University Grading System Explained

How many days per week in college?

College students attend class three to five days a week, depending on their course. College-level courses offer a lot of flexibility.

Because of this, estimating how many days you will need without speaking to your particular institution or sixth form is all but impossible.

Even if there are no classes, you will need to attend private or affiliated sixth forms and colleges for a specific period of hours each day.

The same is not the case in colleges, where you can leave early or enter if you have classes. Once more, this is up to your institution, so if you need more clarification, ask.

For tax purposes, such as child benefit, spending at least 12 hours in school qualifies as a full-time student in the UK.

However, this is not a rigid definition, as the total may include leisure time and other school-related activities. 

The duration can vary significantly depending on the course. For instance, the typical weekly workload for national credentials like lower-level BTECs is 20 hours.

Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, like BTEC diplomas, typically require 15 hours a week or less. 

These courses are often studied alone; however, combining them with others may result in substantially longer class sessions.

Most A-Level students attend classes for 4-5 hours each week for each topic. This is for a two-year course, which is how they are usually taken.

The same is typically true for AS-Levels, which you complete during one year of study rather than two.

How is a college timetable structured?

Many college students will probably have fewer class hours than they did in high school. This indicates that college schedules are frequently more flexible and independent compared to what students are used to.

This could include spending less time in lectures or classes than previously, but typically not less time working!

Along with lessons, students may also participate in clubs, free periods, tutoring sessions, form time, PE, religious education, or instruction about sex and relationships. All of these activities may occur during the school day or afterwards.

These schedules change depending on the institution you attend and if it is a college that affiliates with a secondary school.

These universities might have more organized timetables, more like a high school.  

Read also: What is an Undergraduate Degree? Meaning, Requirements, Costs, and Best Schools

How many hours is a part-time/full-time education college course in the UK?

A part-time college course’s duration varies again according to the course. 

The number of hours you teach will be the same if you take a full-time level course that is spread out over a longer period, such as only 2 hours per week or one day per week, as an evening course.

If you enrol in a part-time course that is not required for a standard college degree, please refer to your institution’s website for more information. 

Since they frequently do not qualify as national qualifications, there are no minimum weekly requirements to consider these credentials educational.

How many hours is a full-time education course in the UK?

The length of time you spend in class depends on the course you’re taking. Full-time degree programs often call for 15 to 25 hours of attendance each week.

Some courses, like those focusing on the health sciences, could call for more in-person interaction.

What are the college term dates?

The dates of college terms vary yearly and depend on your location and the institution you attend. 

The dates below are estimations based on common dates in most countries, so it is impossible to provide an exact answer as to when terms start and end. 

Especially if the school is part of a secondary school, the dates are often comparable to those of other schools.

The academic year in the UK runs from early September to mid-July, though this might vary from school to school since some may begin earlier or later than others. Christmas, Easter and the longer summer break are breaks between the three terms.  

Additionally, regular bank holidays and other breaks vary from year to year.

The winter term typically lasts 13 weeks, beginning in the first week of September and finishing in the middle of January. 

Most schools take a weeklong half-term break during the term. The summer term lasts from mid-April to early to mid-January, followed by the spring semester.

You can check this: 10 Effective Brain Foods for Studying During Exam Season in 2024

Do you have free periods at college?

Given the concentration on independent study and research that characterizes the majority of college courses in the UK, students are expected to do coursework, further reading, supervised assignments, and general study outside of class. 

Free periods, which are spread throughout the college week to provide students time to prepare for lectures and tests independently, frequently cover this need.

While there are no lessons during free periods, students are typically expected to work on school-related projects during these times.

Especially if they have numerous sessions each day, schools frequently expect students to attend during free hours. 

This way, kids can be confident they’ll show up for the remaining lessons and have access to teachers if they need help. However, they might permit some pupils to study at home or to leave during a free period.

Free times are an excellent resource for college students because the fewer lessons imply that they must put in more effort outside of class to stay on task and comprehend the challenging material.

What are the Differences between full-time and part-time study Education? 

The main distinction between full-time and part-time education is not only how much time you devote to it each week. 

Your whole university experience—from the hours you spend studying and attending lectures to your extracurricular activities—is impacted by this choice. 

Understanding how your decision will impact your university experience is helpful before deciding whether to study full- or part-time.

The following are some significant distinctions between full-time and part-time study:

Duration of the course

As was previously said, full-time students typically graduate far sooner than part-time students. Studying full-time allows you to graduate, apply for jobs, and begin your career sooner than part-time study does. 

Many young people look forward to the freedom and independence that comes with graduation from college.

If you’re considering enrolling in part-time coursework, evaluate the additional years you might spend in college and if the trade-off is worthwhile.

Also, read this: What is an Undergraduate Degree? Meaning, Requirements, Costs, and Best Schools

Course intensity

Studying full-time is more time-consuming than studying part-time, typically requiring at least 20 hours a week of study time and frequently much more.

If course intensity worries you, remember that different colleges offer various workloads, so be careful to investigate the courses you’re applying to. 

One advantage of studying part-time is that you may decide to study more or less depending on what works best for your schedule. 

Because of this, part-time study is best for students with other obligations, such as employment or family, or who have a disability that prevents them from handling the rigour of a full-time course.

Flexibility and hours 

It’s expected that full-time students are available to attend classes and study every day during the week.

Many colleges give you more freedom if you study part-time to meet the various obligations that many part-time students must juggle with their studies. 

While some part-time courses only allow for weekend contact time with lecturers and tutors, others give students more freedom during the week and in the evenings. 

Part-time education may give you the flexibility to fit your studies around other commitments, such as full-time work or small children.

Related article: How to Revise For A-Level English Literature?

Tuition fees

Most people who choose part-time education do so for financial reasons, either so they can spread out the cost of tuition fees or so they can work while they are in school. 

Your annual tuition fees will be lower because you receive less than full-time students when you enrol in a part-time course. 

However, it’s crucial to weigh the expense of continuing your education over a longer period.

For instance, the net cost is the same if you pay half the tuition fees of a full-time student but study for twice as long.

Part-time education can help you spread out the cost of your degree, but by the time you graduate, it can frequently result in greater overall costs than full-time study. 

The additional indirect expenditures of prolonged study partially cause this. If you study while staying at home, you might have to commute farther or spend more time doing so. 

If the cost of full-time school worries you or you don’t want to give up a stable job, part-time study is a good alternative.

Work-life balance

While part-time employment is frequently an option for full-time students, it can lead to extremely hectic and stressful times, especially during test season.

Part-time study can provide a better work-life balance if you want to balance employment and study without overwhelming yourself. 

Part-time students frequently have enough time to work, study, and have fun on the same timetable.

Studying part-time can ensure that you have the time to spend with your family each week while also making progress in your studies if you have a family or young children.

See also: What is a Student Certificate? How Do Acquire One Easily?


Living on or close to your university’s campus is possible if you are a full-time student because you frequently attend lectures, seminars, and other in-person sessions.

Many full-time students opt to live in university residence halls so they may interact with other students more regularly outside of class. 

This makes meeting people and enjoying campus life simpler, but it also increases housing costs.

Due to their less frequent attendance at classes during the week, part-time students can frequently study while still living at home.

Course availability

Research the courses you’re interested in applying to and specifically look into if they offer part-time before deciding whether to study full-time or part-time. 

Some universities don’t offer many part-time courses despite most university courses being available to full-time students. 

Part-time study may leave you with fewer alternatives than full-time study, so consider this before deciding.

Campus social life and activities

Your experience of campus life might be significantly impacted by your decision to study full- or part-time.

Because they spend more time on campus, full-time students are more likely to form deep bonds with their fellow students. 

This implies that full-time students are more likely to participate in clubs, societies, and other social activities. 

Although you can still opt to spend more time on campus and participate in societies as a part-time student, you might find it challenging if you’re trying to juggle your studies with other commitments.

Read also: What are Good Part-Time Jobs For College Students?

Eligibility for financial aid

Your financial assistance status is the last consideration when deciding between full- and part-time study.

Financial aid covers both full-time and part-time study options, but certain part-time students may not be eligible due to specific requirements. 

For instance, some student loans might only be available to part-time students taking courses with a 25% or higher intensity level.

Find out what you qualify for under various study options if you rely on financial aid for your studies.

Related article: What Time Do Schools Start and Finish in the UK?

FAQs – How Many Hours is Full-Time Education UK 

In the UK, what does a full-time degree mean?

The amount of study time required for full-time study is typically at least 20 hours per week, and frequently much more. If course intensity worries you, do your homework on the courses you’re applying to because different colleges offer varying workloads.

Can I work full-time and attend school in the UK?

If you enroll in a full-time program at the graduate level or above, your student or Tier 4 visa will permit you to work 20 hours per week during term time. If you enrol in a full-time program below the degree level, you must study at least 10 hours per week during term time.

How many lectures are there per week at the UK university?

Each academic year is divided into three terms, each lasting eight weeks. You should plan on attending 7 or 8 one-hour lectures every week, but this is merely a general estimate as a lot depends on the papers you are taking and how they are scheduled.


When selecting a study format, consider each of the considerations above. Select a course of study that offers you the academic experience you desire while fitting in with your lifestyle and responsibilities.

This article states a few things to take into account when deciding between full-time and part-time study and explains how many hours are full-time education in the UK. 



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