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Choosing a degree course

There are a lot of factors to consider before choosing a degree course. Studying a course for three years requires a lot of dedication and if you aren’t entirely happy with your choice it may show in your grades and could even have an impact on your health.

Check out our video by Steph on choosing a degree course:

What subject do you want to study?

The main focus at this point is deciding which undergraduate subject you want to study. Each subject area can have many different types of degrees, for example, the subject area Media can be split into Film and Media, Communications and Media, Media Studies, Japanese Film and Media,  Journalism and Media, the list goes on! Once you have chosen a specific area connected to something you enjoy, you can choose a degree course that offers this.

Which qualifications do you need?

Most degree courses have entry requirements and they can be displayed in a number of ways. The course may ask for A-Level or AS Level grades, a National Diploma or a certain number of hours at a placement. The most popular requirements are UCAS tariff points, which are A and AS Level grades converted into points, we have a useful UCAS tariff point converter to help you get started.

What will you learn on the course?

Each course is different and can offer you completely different experiences. Read up on the same courses that are offered by different universities to see what else you could be learning. You may find a particular university will go more in-depth into certain areas that interest you, or you may have the chance to skip a module that you find uninteresting or struggle with. Check out the modules for the whole three years to see if the course is right for you.

How will your time be spent whilst studying?

This is an important factor when finding a course and is often overlooked by new students. Are you comfortable sitting in a large lecture hall and listening to a lecturer talk constantly for two hours? Are you able to sit in a tiny classroom with only a handful of classmates? It is best to find out how your modules will be taught to best adapt to these situations.

Are you able to motivate yourself? A lot of degree courses require independent study, which could mean reading course material suggested by your lecturer, studying further on an area covered in class or even conducting research. University courses require a lot of independent work, a good attitude and self-motivation so ensure you are prepared for this.

How will you be assessed whilst studying?

This is another area that is less researched. Are you better at writing essays or taking tests? Courses can be assessed through coursework, exams or a mixture of both, research how your chosen course is assessed to find out if it is right for you.

Does it include a placement?

Depending on the course, some areas require you to undertake a work placement where you will work for a certain number of hours at a connected work experience. This could mean spending up to a year working in the middle of your degree, or completing a set number of hours whilst you are studying.

Are there options to choose modules you might enjoy?

Most degree courses give you the opportunity to pick modules to take, and the freedom usually increases throughout the degree. The majority of courses let you choose more modules in the last years of the degree, whereas the first years are more restricted by taking ‘core’ modules, which are compulsory. Before choosing a degree course, research which modules you are able to choose and find out which are compulsory.

What if you change your mind?

Before deciding on a degree course, research your options in case you find yourself unhappy with your choice. Contact the university or look at their terms and conditions to find out their policy on changing courses. Three years is a long time to study and you want to make sure the course is perfect for you.

After answering all of the questions above, you should be closer to deciding which course, or main course subject you are interested in studying. There are so many that universities can offer, so even if you are unsure at the moment you can find the points addressed above should make looking through courses that much easier.