A PhD position for which I am planning to apply notes:

Applicants should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a First Class or 2.1 Honours degree.

The position is in the UK, but I live in another EU country. What does "First Class or 2.1 Honours degree" mean, and how do I know if I satisfy that condition?

The grades at my university are given as fail, 3, 4 and 5.

1 Answer 1


The "definitions," such as they exist, of the different degrees, are available from Wikipedia.

Essentially, "first-class honours" and "2.1 (or 2:1) honours" are the top two categories of honors degrees in the UK system—sort of like the summa cum laude and magna cum laude in American universities. Although the requirements for awarding them appear to be fairly uniform between schools (with the possible exception of Oxford and Cambridge—see dbmag9's comment below), given that each university may have different standards for how they "translate" degrees from other countries, your best bet is to contact the university's international office (or equivalent), to determine if they will consider your degree to be comparable.

  • 6
    I wouldn't say that the requirements for a First or 2.1 'differ substantially' within the UK; it's pretty consistently 70% for a First and 60% for a 2.1. What might differ is the difficulty of achieving that normalised percentage, and how much work will have been involved in the degree generally.
    – dbmag9
    May 26, 2013 at 10:07
  • 3
    Don't be confused by the low percentages mentioned by dbmag9: results are typically normalised lower in the UK than many other places. Typically around 10–12% of our undergraduates manage a 1st, and around 30–40% a 2:1.
    – Ubiquitous
    May 27, 2013 at 18:44
  • I had to achieve >= 90% for a 1st May 30, 2016 at 16:31

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