How top-up degrees work

Top-up degrees are for those who already hold a Higher National Diploma (HND) or similar, and are looking to ‘top up’ their qualification to a full Degree. Top-up degrees are equivalent to the final year of undergraduate study and can be undertaken in a variety of ways, either full-time or part-time, online or on-campus.

Top-up courses require you to have a diploma qualification in a relevant subject; this means that the course of study should be closely tied to your previous qualification, however, it does not have to be the same subject. This flexibility allows our students to have a wide range of career prospects upon graduation.

Qualification equivalencies

Earning a full Degree or MBA is simple and a low cost option with CIOBE. Below we have highlighted some of the course terminology and their equivalencies:

University Foundation Level, Level 3 Courses are equivalent to A- Levels and will be accepted by most Universities for entry on to their Undergraduate course, subject to any other entry requirements, such as English Language competency.

First and second year of a University Degree, Level 4/5 Courses carry 240 credits and most Universities will accept students for top up onto the final year of an Undergraduate Degree either on campus or by distance learning.

Postgraduate MBA Entry, Level 6 Courses will allow students entry onto most university Postgraduate Management courses, relevant work experience and English language competency may also be required.

MBA Advanced Entry, Level 7 Courses. Many Universities will accept 120 credits as advanced entry onto an MBA top up. It should be noted that Universities with AMBA accredited MBAs will not accept any exemptions but will usually accept Level 6 or Level 7 as entry qualifications.

Who we work with

CIOBE works closely with a range of top UK universities, offering multiple progression routes to students. We are able to negotiate lower tuition fees and provide application assistance for entry to a number of UK and international universities. On completion of an CIOBE course, students have the following options available to them:

  1. Study on campus in the UK for top-up courses or direct entry to university. All of the academic courses offered by CIOBE are OFQUAL approved and universities will generally accept the credits awarded to students. For Level 3 programmes students can apply for Undergraduate entry for a full programme, Level 6 programmes will allow entry at most Universities for full time Post Graduate study. ATHE have direct articulation arrangements with several Universities which give full recognition for entry (Click here to see ATHE progression routes). Alternatively students can choose their own University (Click here to Find a University)It should be understood by students that these are general guidelines and students should always check the requirements with their preferred University or their local University Agent if they intend to make an application
  1. Study by Distance Learning for top up programmes or full programmes Many UK Universities run off campus distance learning programmes and CIOBE will always seek direct arrangements with these universities to accept our students. Current university progression arrangements can be viewed on the specific course pages, under ‘University top up’.
  1. Other universities offering distance learning Business programmes Students may choose to apply directly to a UK University not linked to ATHE or CIOBE. Several Universities operate distance learning Business programmes and students can apply directly for credits or other forms of advanced entry. Students should make it clear to the University that the qualification is Ofqual RQF validated at the stated level. CIOBE can provide the requisite Ofqual documentation and transcript if required, alternatively students can visit the Ofqual website to confirm the qualification Each University will consider an application on its merits subject to their own specific entry requirements. 

Below is a list of a few UK Distance Learning providers offering Business programmes:

Edinburgh Napier University

University of Essex (BA)

University of Essex (MBA)

Leeds Beckett University

Northumbria University

University of Derby Online Learning

If you require more information regarding the possible progression routes, you can find it on the UCAS website:

Study for an AMBA Accredited MBA by distance learning

The Association of MBAs is a membership organisation that provides accreditation and upholds the highest international standards of MBA programmes. Many UK Universities are Members and offer distance learning study. Although credits cannot be given, admission can be gained via the CIOBE Level 6 plus the requisite additional entry requirements of your chosen University. Students should check the regulations of their chosen University first.

Top up and recognition by non UK universities

Students may want to study at Institutions nearer their home country or qualifications outside of UK. For example many Australian Universities offer distance learning and will recognise equivalent UK qualifications on a case by case basis.

Become a partner

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