About UK


The largest component of the United Kingdom (commonly referred to as the U.K.) is the island of Great Britain, comprising England, Wales, and Scotland. Additionally, the U.K. incorporates Northern Ireland, located on a separate island. South of Northern Ireland is the distinct country of Ireland, which gained independence from the U.K. in 1937. Notably, Northern Ireland is situated just 12 miles from the island of Great Britain, separated by the North Channel of the Irish Sea.

Scotland and Wales are the most mountainous parts of the U.K. and are covered in knife-edged mountain ridges separated by deep valleys. This terrain was shaped some 20,000 years ago during the last Ice Age, when thick glaciers covered the land. When the Ice Age glaciers melted in northwest Scotland, they left behind thousands of lakes, called lochs (pronounced LOCKS). Long and narrow, some of the lochs are very deep. (Legends say that a giant monster called Nessie lives in Loch Ness in this region, also called the Scottish Highlands.)

The largest freshwater lake in the United Kingdom in terms of surface area is Lough Neagh (pronounced LOCK NEE), located in Northern Ireland. This expansive lake spans 20 miles in length and nine miles in width. The landscapes of both Northern Ireland and England are characterized by rolling hills and plains that contribute to the picturesque countryside.

People and Culture

Numerous individuals in the United Kingdom can trace their ancestry back to Celtic migrants from central Europe who likely arrived in the U.K. as early as 1000 B.C. Additionally, the forebears of U.K. citizens include Roman invaders who arrived in A.D. 43 and Viking warriors who landed in A.D. 793, both originating from mainland Europe. These diverse historical migrations have contributed to the rich and varied heritage of the people in the United Kingdom.

Following the conclusion of World War II in 1945, the United Kingdom saw an influx of thousands of refugees from war-torn European countries who sought settlement. In the subsequent decades, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s, individuals from former British colonies such as Jamaica in the Caribbean, Nigeria in Africa, and India in Asia, migrated to the U.K. for employment opportunities and settlement. This period marked a significant demographic shift and contributed to the increasing diversity of the United Kingdom's population.

In the contemporary era, over 80 percent of the population in the United Kingdom resides in England. The capital city, London, which serves as both the capital of England and the entire U.K., is home to just under nine million residents. Christianity is the predominant religion, with nearly half of the U.K.'s population identifying as Christian, primarily belonging to Protestant churches. In addition to the Christian majority, the country hosts sizable and expanding communities of Muslims, Hindus, and Jews, contributing to its religious diversity.

The United Kingdom is globally recognized for its contributions to sports and literature. Several major sports, such as soccer, rugby, cricket, boxing, and golf, originated in the U.K. The country has also produced a wealth of renowned literary figures, including William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen. Contemporary authors like J.K. Rowling, known for the Harry Potter series, and J.R.R. Tolkien, the creator of the Lord of the Rings series, further contribute to the U.K.'s influential literary tradition.


Approximately 5,000 years ago, a significant portion of the United Kingdom was enveloped by dense forests. However, over the centuries, these woodlands were gradually cleared by farmers and land developers. Presently, only about 13 percent of the U.K.'s land area is covered by forests, highlighting the extensive changes in land use and landscape transformation over the course of millennia.

The United Kingdom is densely populated, leaving few truly wild areas. Wildlife species that have adapted to coexist with humans, such as smaller mammals like hedgehogs, hares, and badgers, tend to thrive. Among the larger mammals in the U.K., roe deer (native to the country) and red deer are notable examples. The challenge of balancing urbanization and wildlife conservation has led to the dominance of species capable of adapting to human-altered landscapes.

The Scottish Highlands, relatively untouched by human development, serve as a habitat for various wildlife species, including the Scottish wildcat, pine martens, and golden eagles. In Northern Ireland, Lough Neagh is home to a diverse array of waterfowl, boasting around 20 species, including ducks, gulls, geese, and swans. These areas offer glimpses of relatively undisturbed natural landscapes and provide essential habitats for diverse wildlife in the United Kingdom.

In Wales, the red fox is one of the frequently spotted mammals. Additionally, visitors have the opportunity to observe Ley's Whitebeam trees, a unique species that exclusively grows in Wales. This combination of wildlife and distinctive flora adds to the ecological diversity found in Wales, showcasing the region's specific natural characteristics.

In the moors of England, characterized by open areas with infertile soil covered by grass and heather, visitors have the chance to encounter various wildlife. This includes the presence of venomous adder snakes, the vibrant emperor moths, and ground-nesting birds known as snipes. The moors provide a unique habitat for these species, contributing to the biodiversity of England's natural landscapes.

The extensive 7,723 miles of coastline in the United Kingdom, featuring a diverse range of landscapes from tall cliffs to beaches and marshes, serve as habitats for various seabirds. Species such as puffins and great skuas find homes along these coastal areas. Additionally, the waters surrounding the U.K. offer opportunities for spotting marine mammals, including minke whales, bottlenose dolphins, and orcas, contributing to the rich marine biodiversity of the region.

Government and Economy

The United Kingdom's system of government has evolved over many centuries. As far back as the ninth century, the governance structure involved kings and queens who ruled with counsel from a combination of religious leaders and nobles. This historical framework laid the foundation for the development of the U.K.'s political system, which has undergone significant changes and reforms over the course of its long history.

In contemporary times, the United Kingdom operates as a constitutional monarchy. This signifies that the reigning monarch, whether king or queen, serves as the head of state but holds no substantial political power. The political governance of the country is conducted by elected officials and institutions, with the monarch's role being largely symbolic and ceremonial. The U.K.'s constitutional monarchy is characterized by a separation of powers between the ceremonial monarchy and the functioning government.

The historical council of advisers evolved over time into a formalized governmental institution known as Parliament. In the present day, the United Kingdom's system of governance is described as a parliamentary democracy. In this system, Parliament plays a central role, and the government is formed by elected representatives who are accountable to the legislative body. The term "parliamentary democracy" underscores the importance of Parliament in shaping and overseeing the government, reflecting the democratic principles that guide the U.K.'s political structure.

Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom are responsible for passing all the country's laws through the two chambers of Parliament. The House of Commons is composed of officials who are directly elected by the people. In contrast, the House of Lords is made up of appointed members, typically chosen by the reigning monarch based on recommendations from an independent group known as the House of Lords Appointments Commission. This parliamentary structure, with an elected lower house and an appointed upper house, contributes to the governance and legislative processes in the U.K.

The head of the government in the United Kingdom is the Prime Minister. Typically, the Prime Minister is the leader of the political party that holds the majority in Parliament. This individual leads the executive branch of the government and plays a central role in formulating and implementing government policies. The Prime Minister is a key figure in the UK's parliamentary system, serving as the head of the ruling party and the head of the government.

The United Kingdom is a significant exporter of various goods. Some of its main exports include oil, iron, and steel products. Additionally, the country exports electrical equipment, as well as parts for automobiles and aircraft. In terms of agriculture, the U.K. produces and exports crops such as barley, wheat, and potatoes. These diverse exports contribute to the U.K.'s economic activity and global trade relationships.

Over the course of history, the United Kingdom accumulated wealth through its colonial enterprises, wherein it took control of or established colonies in various regions. Some estimates suggest that the U.K. generated substantial wealth, potentially as much as $45 trillion in today's dollars, from its former colony of India. This wealth was derived from trade, where goods produced in the colonies contributed to the U.K.'s economic prosperity. Other former colonies, including Australia, Canada, and South Africa, also played significant roles in shaping the economic history of the United Kingdom.


The early inhabitants of the United Kingdom included the Picts, who are believed to have arrived approximately 10,000 years ago, likely originating from mainland Europe. In the sixth century B.C., the Celts migrated from Europe, and during this period, the Picts moved north into what is now Scotland. The Roman invasion occurred in A.D. 43, leading to nearly 400 years of Roman rule. The Romans left a lasting impact, constructing roads, bathhouses, and sewers during their occupation of the region.

In the sixth century A.D., Germanic peoples, including the Angles, Jutes, and Saxons, began migrating into the United Kingdom. The Angles, in particular, gave their name to England, and the people became known as the Anglo-Saxons. From the 900s to the 1400s, England experienced periods of Viking, Danish, and Norman invasions, with rulers from these backgrounds shaping the country's history. During this time, various Celtic kingdoms held control over Ireland and Wales for extended periods. The descendants of the Picts continued to govern Scotland, contributing to the diverse and complex historical tapestry of the United Kingdom.

In the 13th century, England asserted control over Wales. Approximately 200 years later, in 1485, Henry Tudor, a Welsh noble, claimed the English crown and ascended to the throne as Henry VII, marking the beginning of the Tudor dynasty. Wales was officially united with England in 1536 through the Laws in Wales Acts, which were passed during the reign of Henry VIII. This legislative union marked a significant historical development in the relationship between England and Wales within the broader context of the United Kingdom's formation.

After numerous battles and struggles to maintain its independence, Scotland ultimately united with England in 1707. The union of the three nations—England, Wales, and Scotland—resulted in the formation of the Kingdom of Great Britain. Queen Anne, who reigned at the time, became the first monarch of the newly-established Great Britain. This significant political and historical development laid the groundwork for the unified entity that would later evolve into the United Kingdom.

The history of Ireland and England involves a long period of conflict and attempts by the Celts in Ireland to maintain independence. English invasions into Ireland date back to the late 1100s. By the late 1600s, England had gained control over the entire island of Ireland. In 1801, Ireland officially joined England, Scotland, and Wales through the Act of Union, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This political and territorial consolidation marked a significant chapter in the history of the United Kingdom.

Motivated by the desire to replicate the wealth acquired by Portugal and Spain through their overseas ventures, the United Kingdom embarked on establishing colonies, particularly in what would later become the United States. In 1607, Jamestown, located in what is now the state of Virginia, became the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. This marked the initiation of English colonization in the New World and laid the groundwork for the expansion of British colonies in North America.

In the 18th century, American colonists initiated a rebellion against British rule. This led to the American Revolutionary War, which unfolded between 1775 and 1783. Throughout the conflict, American forces fought for their independence, and the war concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783. The treaty recognized the sovereignty of the newly formed United States of America, marking the end of British control over the American colonies and the establishment of an independent nation.

Following the loss of its American colonies, the United Kingdom shifted its focus to Asia. To facilitate trade in regions including what is now Indonesia, India, and other parts of Southeast Asia, the British East India Company was established. The company's increasing control over trade in the region eventually paved the way for the colonization of India, which was formalized in 1858 when the British Crown assumed direct control over the governance of India. This period marked a significant chapter in the history of British imperialism in Asia.

By the mid-1800s, the United Kingdom had emerged as one of the most powerful nations globally. During this period, the country expanded its influence and built a vast overseas empire, establishing colonies across Africa and even in Canada in North America. These colonies were integral parts of the British Empire, which, by the 1900s, governed more than one-quarter of the world's population. This era marked the height of the British Empire's dominance and global reach.

In the late 19th century, Germany entered into competition with the United Kingdom and other European powers to establish colonies in Africa and Asia. The increasing tensions resulting from these imperialistic rivalries played a role in the outbreak of World War I in 1914. The United Kingdom, alongside allies such as France, Italy, Japan, the United States, and the Soviet Union (now Russia), ultimately defeated the Central Powers, including Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire, bringing an end to the war in 1918.

Amidst the backdrop of World War I, calls for independence in Ireland manifested in the form of the Easter Rising, an uprising that took place on Easter Monday in 1916. Although the revolt was suppressed, leading to the execution of many of its Irish leaders, it fueled a sustained desire for independence from the United Kingdom among the Irish population. In 1919, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) engaged in conflict with the British Army during the Irish War of Independence, a struggle that continued until 1921. This period marked a significant chapter in the quest for Irish independence from British rule.

Following a truce in 1921, the Irish Free State Act of 1922 was enacted. This legislation delineated that the southern part of Ireland would become the Irish Free State, possessing a degree of self-governance and maintaining certain ties to the United Kingdom. Simultaneously, six counties in the north opted to remain part of the U.K., forming Northern Ireland. Subsequently, in 1937, the Irish Free State, which is now known simply as Ireland, became a fully independent republic. By 1949, Ireland had severed all remaining ties with the United Kingdom and officially declared itself a republic. This period marked a significant step in the evolution of Ireland's political status and its relations with the United Kingdom.

Amid Ireland's ongoing pursuit of independence, the United Kingdom became embroiled in another world conflict when Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party invaded Poland in 1939, triggering the start of World War II. The United Kingdom, along with the United States and the Soviet Union, allied against Germany, Italy, and Japan, known as the Axis powers. The war persisted until 1945, culminating in the defeat of the Axis countries and the end of World War II.

The extensive costs incurred by the United Kingdom during World War I and World War II significantly impacted its financial resources. The aftermath of the wars, coupled with changing geopolitical dynamics, prompted the UK to reassess its global commitments. As a result, the UK withdrew from several colonies, facilitating their path to independence. This period marked the gradual dissolution of the British Empire, with many former colonies gaining their sovereignty and independence. The process of decolonization unfolded as the UK adapted to post-war realities and shifted away from its imperialistic past.

India, often described as "the crown jewel of the British Empire," had been advocating for independence for many years prior to the world wars. In 1914, Indian activist Mahatma Gandhi took a prominent role in the independence movement by urging his fellow Indians to participate in nonviolent forms of protest. This included actions such as boycotting British goods and refusing to pay taxes. While the struggle for independence in India at times involved violence, Gandhi's leadership and commitment to nonviolence played a pivotal role in the eventual achievement of Indian independence in 1947. This marked the end of British colonial rule in India and the emergence of the independent nations of India and Pakistan.

Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in 1952, and over her remarkable 70-year reign, more than 50 countries that were former colonies of the British Empire gained their independence. This era in history is often referred to as the decolonization of the British Empire. The process of decolonization involved the transition of numerous territories to self-governance and independence, marking a significant shift in the geopolitical landscape and the end of formal imperial rule by the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II has witnessed and played a symbolic role in this historical transformation.

Everything you need to know about studying in the UK

How does the UK university system work?

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, undergraduate programs typically span three years and focus on a single specified subject, as indicated in your application. However, various exceptions exist, including joint honours courses enabling the concurrent study of two subjects, longer programs like medicine (commonly five years in the UK), and courses incorporating three years of instruction along with a year abroad or in an industrial setting.

The Scottish education system diverges from the rest of the UK and adopts a model more akin to the US college system. In Scotland, undergraduate programs typically extend over four years. During the initial two years, students cover various subjects before honing in on a specific subject area for the final two years of specialization.

At the postgraduate level in the UK, courses become more specialized. You have the option to pursue taught masters courses, which involve seminars and classes, or research masters courses where you focus on your independent project right from the start.

How do you apply to study in the UK?

In contrast to other countries, the application process for UK universities does not involve separate applications to individual institutions. Instead, all university applications are consolidated through a centralized system known as Ucas, which requires a nominal fee of approximately £22. When utilizing Ucas, applicants have the flexibility to apply to up to five universities.

On your Ucas application, you will furnish information about all your exams and qualifications. Additionally, you'll include a reference from one of your teachers and a personal statement. The personal statement serves as your chance to articulate your interest in the chosen course and elaborate on any extracurricular activities beyond your academic pursuits, such as involvement in clubs, societies, additional subject research, or sports.

The typical deadline for submitting your Ucas application is January 15th, although this deadline may vary from year to year.

There is an earlier deadline of October 15th for individuals applying to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as well as for most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry. Typically, applicants can expect to receive responses from the universities they applied to by June.

Your Ucas application can result in one of three outcomes: a conditional offer, an unconditional offer, or an unsuccessful choice or rejection. Both a conditional offer and an unconditional offer are considered positive news.

The most prevalent type of offer from UK universities is the conditional offer, which implies that your offer will be confirmed only upon meeting specific requirements. The primary condition of a conditional offer is typically achieving a specified set of grades in your exams or a certain number of Ucas points. Ucas points serve as a standardized way of measuring grades, ensuring equitable treatment for various types of exams worldwide.

Each university and course may have distinct expectations for grades or Ucas scores. To discover the average grades for conditional offers pertaining to a specific course, you can refer to the respective university's website. The information about entry requirements is typically available there and can provide insight into the academic criteria expected for successful admission.

If your exam results differ significantly from your expectations, either falling short of the conditions of your offers or surpassing them, you have the option to participate in a process known as Ucas clearing or adjustment in August. During this period, you may have the opportunity to secure admission to a university you did not initially apply to, which may have available spaces. This process is applicable to both domestic and international students, and it provides a chance to reconsider your university choices based on your actual exam results.

What kinds of universities are there in the UK?

The United Kingdom boasts over 160 higher education institutions. Among these are the esteemed Russell Group universities, an association of 24 leading research-intensive schools. Notable members include the University of Cambridge in East Anglia, the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Durham University in North East England, along with UCL (University College London) and the London School of Economics and Political Science, both located in central London.

Several prestigious institutions in London, including SOAS University of London, UCL, Goldsmiths, University of London, and Queen Mary University of London, are affiliated schools of the University of London. Despite operating independently for practical matters like admissions and funding, these schools are affiliated with the University of London. As a student at any of these affiliate schools, you typically gain access to services across the University of London, including access to other schools' libraries, the Senate House library, and exclusive student deals and discounts.

Additionally, there are numerous other universities throughout the country that provide a diverse array of courses. These offerings range from conventional undergraduate degrees to specialized foundation years and vocational programs. The higher education landscape in the UK offers a broad spectrum of educational opportunities catering to various academic and career interests.

While most universities in the UK offer courses spanning both the arts and sciences, there are a few institutions that specialize in specific areas. For instance, Imperial College London has a strong focus on science and technology. Additionally, there are specialized institutions such as drama schools like the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and conservatoires dedicated to music and dance. These specialized institutions provide focused training and education in their respective fields.

Do I need to take a language test to study in the UK?

If you are considering studying in the UK and English is not your first language, it is highly probable that you will be required to take an English language proficiency test to demonstrate that you have the necessary language skills to succeed academically.

Universities typically specify the preferred English language proficiency test, the minimum overall score expected, and the required scores in individual components such as writing, speaking, listening, and reading. Fields like law and medicine, as well as more competitive universities like those in the Russell Group, often demand high scores. If you are uncertain about the exact requirements, it is advisable to contact the international offices of your chosen universities for clarification.

The IELTS Academic, TOEFL, PTE Academic, and Cambridge English Advanced are among the most widely accepted English language proficiency tests for admission to UK universities. Among these, the IELTS Academic is often the most commonly recommended by UK universities. It's important to check the specific requirements of the universities and programs you are applying to, as preferences may vary.

When applying to a UK university through Ucas, it's not a requirement to have completed an English language proficiency test. However, if you haven't taken the test by the time of application, achieving a minimum score in a recognized English language test is likely to be one of the conditions attached to your offer. If you have already taken the test, you can include this information on your Ucas application along with your other exam scores. It's crucial to check the specific requirements of the universities and programs you are applying to.

In the UK, universities charge tuition fees for their courses, and international students typically face higher fees compared to domestic students. The specific tuition fees vary based on the chosen course and the student's country of origin. It's important for international students to carefully review the fee structures of the universities and programs they are interested in to understand the financial commitments associated with their education in the UK.

International students include any students that do not live in the UK.

As of 2023, international students pursuing lecture-based undergraduate degrees in the UK can anticipate annual tuition fees ranging from £10,000 to £32,000. However, for undergraduate medical degrees, overseas students may face higher costs, with fees reaching up to £64,000 per year. It's important to note that these figures are indicative, and actual tuition fees can vary based on the specific university, course, and other factors. Prospective international students should check the official websites of the universities they are interested in for the most accurate and up-to-date information on tuition fees.

For postgraduate degrees in the UK, there is no upper limit on tuition fees for international students. However, postgraduate fees generally tend to be higher than most undergraduate courses, and the specific fee can vary significantly depending on the university and the type of program. Prospective international postgraduate students should carefully review the fee structures of the universities and programs they are considering to understand the financial aspects associated with their chosen course of study.

Accommodation is a significant factor to consider when calculating study costs in the UK. The cost of accommodation can vary based on the location within the UK and the type of accommodation chosen. Different options may include university halls of residence, private student accommodation, or renting privately. It's essential for students to research and plan for accommodation costs in their chosen city or town to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of their overall expenses.

In 2021, the average student rent in the UK was £126 per week or £547 per month. However, for students in London, the average rent was higher at £182 per week or £640 per month. On an annual basis, considering a 39-week contract, the average cost for students was £4,914. It's worth noting that most rents include some form of utility bills, although about one-third of students may have additional bills on top of rent. These figures provide a general overview, and actual rental costs can vary depending on factors such as location, type of accommodation, and amenities included.

It's a common practice for students to reside in university accommodation during their first year and then transition to private housing for the second and third years. Nevertheless, it's important to note that accommodation and tuition are not the sole expenses associated with studying in the UK. Students should conduct thorough research and create a budget that encompasses various individual lifestyle costs.

Other Countries

Studying in Australia provides a high-quality education in a diverse and welcoming environment.


Studying in Canada provides a top-tier education in a safe, vibrant and multicultural setting.


Studying in Dubai offers access to modern facilities and a multicultural learning environment.


Studying in Europe provides a range of educational experiences in historic and culturally rich cities.

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