Explaining your qualifications

Answers to key questions about how to present your qualifications in applications.

When you’re applying for jobs employers will want to know about your academic qualifications.   

We’re often asked how best to present these in applications. We’ve answered the key questions here. Remember, though, that your qualifications, while important, are just one part of the package – employers will also be interested in your other achievements, experiences, skills and motivation!  

University qualifications  

How to find your predicted grade 

Your Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR), which you’ll find in EUCLID, lists all the marks for the courses you've taken in Years 1 and 2. Work out your average mark and compare it with the degree class equivalencies given at the bottom of the HEAR. You can check with your Student Adviser that they agree it’s a reasonable prediction.  

What’s a GPA? 

A GPA (Grade Point Average) is a single cumulative number which represents all your marks. These are used in the USA and Canada, and employers there might ask for them in applications. The University doesn’t award GPAs - and there isn’t an accepted way to convert your marks here to a GPA. You can get an idea of whether your marks are in the required range by looking at the Fulbright Commission’s GPA guide, but you’re advised not to convert your marks to a GPA on an application form.  Provide your UK degree classification (or predicted grade) with an explanation; or contact the recruiter for advice.  

Fulbright Commission GPA guide   

Will an employer understand qualifications if they’re from a different country? 

Many large employers in the UK and elsewhere will be familiar with qualifications from different educational systems.  

Whether you’re using your UK qualifications to apply for work (or further study) elsewhere, or using your qualifications from a different educational system to apply for work here, it’s better not to attempt to translate your qualifications to those of the other country. You can’t do this accurately and it could look as though you were trying to mislead the employer.   

Stating your qualifications in their original form and providing some context around them is usually acceptable.  For example you can: 

  • List grades as a percentage 

  • If grades were marked on a scale, indicate which way the scale runs. For example, ‘achieved the highest grade of 1, on a scale of 1 - 5’ 

  • Mention any academic prizes and whether a ranking among other students was given; for instance, ‘within the top 5% of year group’ 

You can contact the recruiter’s HR department, or other named contact, if you’re still uncertain what to do.  

Some employers may request an official translation or written assessment of your international qualification. You can get this from UK ENIC, the designated agency for the comparison of international qualifications. 


Degree classification 

At this university an MA (Hons) - Master of Arts with Honours - is the conventional undergraduate degree, equivalent to a standard three-year BA (Hons) gained elsewhere.  

Leaving with an ordinary degree  

Leaving university with an ordinary degree (not an Honours degree) may not be what you’d planned. But leaving early can be a positive move.  

Although this can be an unsettling time it is important to focus on the positives of your time at Edinburgh and what the future holds. Finishing university early can be positive, especially if you have been struggling with your course or not enjoying the experience.

Practical steps to take  

Check to see if you have gained an award

Even if you have not finished your course you may have obtained a qualification, depending on the credits you obtained, for example:

Undergraduate students

  • Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE)

  • Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)

  • Ordinary Degree

Postgraduate taught students

  • Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert)

  • Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip)

Adding these to your CV will remove the issue of a gap and demonstrate a level of academic success. You can see their equivalences on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) website:

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework

To find out if you have achieved an award either check EUCLID or contact Student Administration:

Student Administration

Reflect on your time at Edinburgh

During your time at the University of Edinburgh you will have had lots of valuable experiences and developed key skills which will help your career. Try to reflect on what has not worked to ensure you are clear on why you are leaving the university. Don’t be tempted to leave your time at Edinburgh off of your CV. You should include it and be prepared to talk to recruiters about why you left early and - crucially - what you have learned from the experience.

International Student?

If you are studying on a Tier 4 visa then it is important that you contact the Student Immigration Service to let them know that you are leaving university.

Student Immigration Service

If you are going to return to another country you may want to look at our information about working outside the UK:

Finding jobs outside the UK

Looking forward, what are your options?

Getting a job

The majority of jobs do not require a degree. However, you may need to look at entry level jobs and aim to work your way up through the organisation. Graduate training schemes are unlikely to be an option for you without an honours level degree. This is usually also the case for postgraduate level study.

Jobcentre Plus is the government-funded organisation which aims to help people get jobs or employment-related benefits.

Jobcentre Plus

If you are not sure what sort of job you want to do look at our Get Started webpage. MyWorldofWork also has useful tools and information.

Get started


Staying in education

If you are considering another university course make sure you research the institution thoroughly. Universities vary greatly in many ways including how they approach teaching and their culture.  Try to speak to current students. Don’t forget the Open University as sometimes it is possible to study part-time and “top up” the qualification you have achieved at Edinburgh.

It is important to check what funding you have remaining as this may have been affected.

Student Awards Agency for Scotland

Student Loans Company

You may have decided that university education is not for you, but still want to get a qualification. You could consider a vocational course. These are often delivered through Further Education colleges or professional bodies. Some vocational courses are offered by providers such as LearnDirect.


Taking time out

You may want to take some time to consider your options after leaving university. This can be a useful thing to do whether you decide to stay at home or take some time to travel.

School-level qualifications  

I’m being asked for my UCAS Tariff points  

Some UK application forms ask for UCAS Tariff points. This is a number based on your UK school-leaving qualifications. If you went to school somewhere else and you are asked about UCAS Tariff points you should contact the employer and ask their advice. There is no official resource which calculates international qualifications into UCAS Tariff points.