A B.A. and a B.A. with honours, usually abbreviated to B.A. (Hons), are both degrees given upon completion of a three- or four-year course of study at a university in all of the United Kingdom except Scotland or countries that are members of the British Commonwealth. Both the B.A. and the B.A. (Hons) are equivalents of the Bachelor of Arts degree given in the United States upon graduation from college.
The B.A. degree is often called an "ordinary" B.A. and sometimes labeled as "B.A. (gen)," standing for general. It is a degree of lesser standing than the B.A. (Hons), which is more academically demanding and requires greater levels of learning and achievement. Unlike a typical American college education, the British course of study leading to the B.A. or B.A. (Hons) focuses only on one subject, with no general education classes required. A B.A. (Hons) is required if a student wishes to pursue further higher education and get a Master's degree or a Doctorate. The B.A. (Hons) can be awarded at four levels: first class, upper second class, lower second class and third class. The classification is determined based on the student's final grades after the three years of study. If a student in a B.A. (Hons) program fails to achieve enough to be awarded a third class degree, he is sometimes awarded an ordinary B.A. instead.