Once you start your journey of applying to university your thoughts, worries and questions are going to be flying all around in your head. It can seem overwhelming and feel like you are determining your entire future on this one choice, and what if you make a mistake? University does set you up for the rest of your life but mistakes can be re-written. By putting the time in to focusing on you, and what you really want to study at higher education will reduce the risk of you making a bad decision. During your research deciding on what degree to choose at university is as important as which university to attend.
What type of degrees are on offer?
There are many different type of degrees available, including Bachelor’s, undergraduate or first degree – this is the most popular consisting of three or four years of study. The list continues with sandwich courses – with a placement or work experience year – and Joint courses; which can include two subjects equally (50/50) or a major and minor (75/25). There is also the option to just study the first year of a degree which is known as a Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), or two years; a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), Higher National Diploma (HND), or a Foundation Degree. If you choose to only study the first year, you will leave with a certified qualification and have the option to continue your studies and complete the rest of your degree if you choose to do so.
Are there an array of subjects?
These degrees and qualifications come with an impressionable selection of subjects, from accounting to zoology. Not all institutions will have all subjects on offer, but if you search for the course or subject you’re interested in, you can then find out what universities and independent colleges can provide them.
How are they broken down?
Most subjects can be broken down and narrowed down to your interests, for example the subject media, in turn, will be broken down into digital media, publishing, journalism, graphic design, web design, film, television and technology, and the list continues. Some degrees even combine two similar subjects, like Film studies and Media. Therefore, it is really worth researching if your niche interest is available in degree form. Additionally, when studying that degree you’ll be taking modules which are made up of credits and collectively represent your qualification. These modules are again more specific, continuing with our media example, a module could be Cinema History or Cultural Identity and the Media.
What are placement years?
Placement years are typically within a sandwich course, which usually last for four years where students can study at university for three years and then take one year conducting work experience which is included in their degree/grade. Sometimes, the placement year is during the degree course (1st, 2nd or 3rd year) or can be at the end (4th/last year). It depends on your university as to whether you’ll have help securing a placement connected to your degree subject and career goals, but in other cases you may need to research and secure the work experience yourself which can be tough. If you’re worried about being able to find work experience, speak to the university or a current student about support provided.
Part-time or full-time degrees?
Degrees can be completed in part-time or full-time timetables. Part-time can take up to 6 years to complete, but it isn’t a general rule of thumb that they take ‘double’ the amount of time to finish of full-time degrees. Not all courses are available in both options, and it is down to the university so remember to check your degree beforehand.
What if you change your mind about your degree?
Each institution will have their own regulations about changing your degree or your mind during your course. Speak to your personal tutor as soon as possible if you are worried about the course you have started – or, ask the university before you enrol. Some universities give you the chance to have a ‘test period’ where you may have a few weeks to change course. Bear in mind that you can’t keep switching until you find the right ‘fit’ as this will waste the university’s and your own time (and produce a difficult job for someone at Student Finance!).
What are the options with your modules?
Again, each university will have a set of rules for every individual course about your choice in modules. The majority of courses have core modules which you have to take to complete the course – they can be a handful out of 12 – but it depends on where you are studying. When you are able to choose modules, there can be the option to take a module in a completely different degree or even school of the university! So, if you feel like learning a bit of Philosophy to go with your accounting module then go ahead!
Check out more questions answered in the second part of ‘Deciding on what degree to choose at university?’, for more advice and tips!
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