May 31, 2017, by Lucy
What to Consider when Choosing a University Course
Once you’ve decided what subject you want to study at university, the next thing to do is decide what university to do the course at. Here is a list of things to focus on when whittling your choices down to a specific course to make the daunting task somewhat easier… In theory… I hope…
Despite applying for a single, or joint, honours subject, what you’re taught on the course will differ between universities. When looking at universities, you should consider why you like the subject you are applying for and what you would like to build knowledge on within your studies. Whether you’d like to look at a smaller area of a discipline in depth, or if you would like a broader overview of the general field, module choices are a huge factor in your decision making. For instance, if you’re doing an English degree, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Shakespeare is a universal aspect of every single course at every single university, shock horror!
University isn’t all lectures, you know. Besides being sat in a lecture theatre with the entirety of your course listening to a range of academics discussing areas of research in depth, there are numerous other ways of teaching and learning. For instance:
– Seminars: these involve a small group of students (around 10-15) meeting with a tutor to discuss issues raised in the corresponding lecture. Seminars allow students to ask questions and engage in debates and discussions to tackle topics in detail. These are great for ironing out any issues raised from previous reading.
– Workshops: around the same amount of people as a seminar, but more interactive and practical. Rather than focusing on issues raised from textbooks and lectures, workshops are actively engaging, requiring students to complete tasks and group activities. If you learn best by doing, workshops will be an efficient means of ingraining information into your head.
– Tutorials: this is where students (in groups of 4-6) meet with their personal tutor to undergo a more intimate learning experience. From discussing topics directly related to specific modules, to contemplating university life and smoothing over any queries, tutorials cover every aspect of the university experience. Tutorials are excellent for easing you into university life.
– Labs: labs are hands out and focus on the development of skills and techniques relevant to the discipline. These suit individuals who are looking to go into lab based work / research in the future since the skills practiced will be directly applicable to the ‘real world’.
Do you need structure in your life? Can you be trusted to do extensive amounts of work in your own time? Does the library fill you with dread? Some courses, such as sciences, have vast amounts of contact hours. This means that students are likely to find themselves in timetabled blocks for upwards of 20 hours a week. On the other hand, other courses, such as the arts, usually have less contact hours. Although more contact hours means that you are blessed with the opportunity to learn from academics in structured time, less contact hours gives you the freedom to choose what you would like to study, when you would like to do so. Both have their benefits and costs meaning that neither is objectively better, they are both personal preferences. Either way, just make sure that you are doing the work required rather than spending days on end in bed. Sleeping your way through your degree will not be beneficial for any amount of contact hours.
Exams, essays, commentary pieces, lab reports, oral presentations, poster boards, the list goes on. No longer does ‘assessment’ mean an endless number of exams. If exams stress you out, it’s probably best picking an essay heavy based course. Conversely, if essays make your blood boil, you might want to consider courses reliant on coursework. By now you’ll have figured out where your strengths and weaknesses lie meaning that to maximise your university success, looking at modes of assessment will be crucial. Stress surrounding exams and coursework is natural, but you’ll thank yourself later by playing to your strengths and alleviating any avoidable anxiety.
A useful website for comparing university courses is Unistats. Here you can find all the information mentioned above, as well as information on employability and entry requirements, enabling you to find the perfect course for you!