Degrees of success

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Do you want to carve out a career in business? Studying for a degree – whether as an undergraduate or postgraduate – is a wonderful learning curve that can open up many doors.

Undergraduate courses
So you’ve finished college and you’ve got some A-levels under your belt, what’s the next step? Think about going to university to study a business-related degree…

Undergraduate business studies degrees Regularly one of the top 10 most popular undergraduate degree courses, there are hundreds of undergraduate business studies or business management degrees available at universities around the UK. Some have generic titles, while others are more specific, such as BA Accounting or BA Marketing Management. The generic undergraduate degrees, such as Business Studies or Business Management, all have their individual differences (some of them even offer more specialist courses that combine two disciplines, such as Business Management with Economics, Business Studies with Sport Sciences and Tourism Management with Entrepreneurship).

But, broadly speaking, they cover a wide range of business subjects – from personal and professional skills development to financial management, human resource management and corporate strategy – to offer young students a thorough grounding in the essentials of business. You’ll also learn the essentials of report writing and making presentations. Many courses (called sandwich courses) offer placements in companies within the duration of the programme, offering you the chance to gain vital work experience and contacts within the business industry, or alternatively study is sometimes available abroad. These courses usually take four years to complete.

How long to qualify?
Most full-time undergraduate courses are either three years (for an ordinary degree) or four years for a degree ‘with honours’.

How much will it cost?
Depending on the university, the cost can range from around £3,000 to £10,000.

Will I get paid?
If your undergraduate course offers a work placement for a year, or more, of the course, a bursary or grant is often awarded to you and, at some universities, you aren’t required to pay university fees while the work placement takes place. The bursary is designed to cover your living expenses and ranges from around £8,000 to £12,500, depending on location and the company providing the placement.

Job prospects?
Work experience, often in a blue-chip company, helps graduates from business degrees gain employment, so if you are considering an undergraduate degree it’s wise to opt for one that offers a placement year.

Further information: Look online at the universities that interest you and search for their business degrees for full information. Alternatively, you can search and compare all undergraduate courses available across the country via the Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website, 

‘My degree taught me the value of teamwork’
Robin Savitz, 25, is senior account manager at Kelway UK Ltd. Here, he talks about his degree course

‘I studied Business Studies at Nottingham Trent University. My degree offered placement as a sandwich course but I took the three year option without placement. Although the degree was an individual achievement, there were occasions where I had to work as part of a team. ‘In my current job, it is also very important to be a team player. Yes, you have individual targets, but it just will not be achieved without a strong team and a network of hardworking, dedicated, like-minded people. My degree course taught me just how important it is to have a team spirit.’

Postgraduate courses
If you want to climb up the business ladder and maximise your success with employers, here’s our quick and easy guide to postgraduate courses…

Master of Business Administration (MBA)
An MBA is great if you want to boost or kick-start your career in business, if you’re thinking of changing career or industry, or if you’re a budding entrepreneur. To do an MBA in business, management or administration, you will need to have three or more years of work experience. There are different types of MBAs: full-time MBAs; part-time MBAs for those juggling study with a career; Executive MBAs (EMBAs) – part-time modular programmes – for working professionals and senior managers; and Modular MBAs, which are flexible programmes of study for those who are in demanding employment.

How long to qualify?
Most full-time MBAs are a year long, and part-time courses usually take two years to complete.

How much will it cost?
Depending on the institution, between £10,000 and £40,000.

Will I get paid?
No, but there are scholarships available. Those undertaking Modular MBAs or EMBAs usually receive sponsorship from their employers.

Job prospects?
Experts at Nottingham Trent University’s business school told us the MBA ‘has become the most popular postgraduate course in the world due to its international recognition and transferable skills’, so it’s guaranteed to make you stand out in the business world.

Further information:

Master’s Degree
If you really want to enhance your employment prospects, a Master’s degree in business could be for you. It’s a pre-experience programme, mostly designed for students who’ve completed a Bachelor’s degree. A Master’s is a taught, intensive, specialist programme with a narrow focus in a particular area, so there’s something to suit everyone.

How long to qualify?
One year full-time, two years part-time.

What qualification will I get?
A Master’s degree in business usually awards an MSc.

How much will it cost?
On average, £6,000 although you can get your fees paid by obtaining a scholarship.

Will I get paid?
Not unless you get funding through a scholarship.

Job prospects?
A Master’s degree can provide you with intensive practical and theoretical knowledge in a specialist area of business, which can naturally lead to giving you a real edge when it comes applying for particular jobs.

Further information:

PG Certificate or Diploma
To build the foundations of your career in business, PG Certs and PG Dips are just the ticket. They are an ideal stepping stone for those who wish to make it in business but don’t have the relevant Bachelor’s degree, or for those who want to progress into a Master’s or MBA qualification.

How long to qualify?

Generally speaking, a PG Cert is 15 weeks full-time or one year part-time. A PG Dip is 30 weeks full-time, or two years part-time.

What qualification will I get?
A PG Cert or a PG Dip.

How much will it cost?
Fees start from around £3,000 a year.

Will I get paid?

Job prospects?
Being a postgrad will give you certain advantages over graduates when applying for jobs.

Further information:

Job prospects
Business is an exciting, challenging and ever-changing industry with a wealth of career opportunities for you to get your hands on. To get you going, here are two of the many jobs available…

Business account manager
A demanding, exciting and busy role, a business account manager is the vital link between customer services and the sales department. If you want to work in the hustle and bustle of a business, managing client accounts then this position may be for you.

What does a business account manager do?
The role depends a lot on the nature of the business and the size of the company. But generally speaking, it’s up to the business account manager to maintain the company’s existing relationships with clients, while continually identifying new business opportunities and potential new clients to build relationships with. The role involves working with clients to identify their needs and dealing with their requests, designing marketing strategies for new products or services, making sure that both clients and the company pay on time and liaising with other departments according to clients requirements.
How do I get there?
You need to have a passion for sales and marketing, and a first degree, preferably in a business-orientated subject. However, graduates from other fields are usually considered as long as you display the necessary skills needed – plus MBAs and MAs in business are always good to up your knowledge and experience. Some international companies may ask for qualifications in a second language, and it’s great to have strong people skills.

What about the salary?
Anything from £18,000 to £75,000 depending on the company, but on average, most earn between £24,000 to £34,000.

Further information: The Association of Business Executives (

Tax adviser
If you love working with numbers and are passionate about problem solving, a career in tax could be right up your street. A tax adviser is a fulfilling and stimulating role that requires creative and analytic skills.

What does a tax adviser do?
This job involves enabling clients to pay the right amount of tax at the right time, and advising people on the best ways to avoid paying too much tax in the future. A day in the life of a busy tax adviser may involve meeting clients, checking and completing tax returns, reviewing clients tax records, explaining tax laws to clients, producing reports or presentations for clients, liaising with HM Revenue and Custom (HMRC) and keeping up-to-date with tax law. You won’t be short of employment prospects – accountancy firms, specialist tax consultancies, tax departments of companies, banks, law firms and HMRC and other businesses all need tax advisers!

How do I get there?
To work in the world of tax, you need to become a member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT). You will need at least some GCSEs (A – C) and although you don’t necessarily need a degree, many tax advisers do have higher qualifications in business, accountancy or law. But don’t sweat it if your degree isn’t relevant to a career in tax – you can qualify as a taxation technician by sitting a few exams via the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT). A passion for business and finance is essential, as are excellent mathematical and communication skills – and you’ve got to love working under a bit of pressure.

What about the salary?
Starting salaries are usually between £19,000 and £25,000 a year and fully-qualified Chartered Tax Advisers can earn up to £50,000.

Further information: Chartered Institute of Taxation (, Association of Taxation Technicians (

Pictures: getty images

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