Types of University Course
-By Jessica Luong
Think doing a three-year university course for one subject is the only option when applying to university? Think again. Nowadays, there are a greater variety of university courses which consider your different interests, travel, work experience and even the length of study.
Perhaps the type of university course you’re most familiar with is the standard three year undergraduate course in a single honours degree – this means you’ll graduate in one subject. In Scotland however, the majority of undergraduate courses will last for four years, although some universities and some courses will allow direct entry into second year (effectively skipping the first year of study).
Finding a hard time picking just one course which suits your many interests? Then consider doing a degree in two, or even three, subjects. Joint honours degrees give you the diverse skills employers often look for, and also show you’re capable of juggling more than one discipline. Popular triple honours degrees include Politics, Philosophy and Economics (which many top MPs have), and degrees involving three languages are also common. Don’t be mistaken in thinking joint honours degrees involve disciplines which are strictly related to each other; some universities offer degrees such as Physics and Mathematics, but also Physics and Philosophy. If one subject interests you more than another, then it’s possible to do a major/minor degree; these courses have more focus on one subject.
Sandwich courses usually last for four years. One of these years involves an industrial placement (usually after the second year), where you’ll have experience working or interning for an organisation or company. Sandwich courses are offered for many subjects, from Chemistry to Fashion Design. Industrial placements can boost employability, help you gain experience and offers a hands-on approach to your course of study.
Travelling is not just restricted to gap years; some courses allow you to study abroad for a year, either at an international campus or at another university. These courses are often related with languages or studying a specific region of the world (e.g. a degree in South East Asian Studies can involve a year abroad in Vietnam). If you don’t fancy taking a whole year out, doing a semester abroad (which normally last a few months) might be more suitable. Going somewhere abroad will help you gain better understanding of the things you’ll be studying in your course; where better to practice speaking the language you’re studying than in a country full of native speakers?
If you’re struggling to see how you can balance studying with working or caring for a dependent, then consider a course which allows you to study part-time. Part-time courses often involve evening classes. Part-time study takes longer than full-time study – some courses last for up to six years. Not all universities will be able to offer you part-time study in the subject you wish to graduate in, so make sure you do your research!