Finding the right course

10 unusual degree courses

By Rebecca Hughes (Digital content producer, Which? University) - 01 April 2014

Viking Studies university course

If you've started your search for possible degree courses to apply for, you've probably noticed the sheer number and range of options there to choose from - and some of them are, well, rather less conventional than others.

We've been taking a closer look into the 30,000+ undergraduate courses you can search and compare right here on Which? University - here are some of the more out-of-the-ordinary options you might come across...

1. Brewing & distilling | Heriot-Watt University

Heriot-Watt’s brewing and distilling course is designed to educate potential managers about the brewing and distilling industries and give students a full understanding of the science and technology in the processes involved. The university even has its very own pilot plant brewery and distillery for teaching the practicalities of malting, fermenting, brewing and distilling. 

Example modules: beer maturation, packaging technology, commercial aspects of brewing and distilling
 

2. Theatre practice (puppetry) | Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Central's highly competitive degree in puppet theatre will give you the opportunity to design, make and perform with puppets in a range of styles. The course works closely with practitioners and puppet companies, with opportunities for professional placements and performances.

Example modules: animation and manipulation, puppet-making, voice work, preparing solo work for performance

3. Ethical hacking | University of Abertay Dundee

Students on this intriguingly titled ethical hacking course are taught about the latest tools and techniques to break into web servers, steal information and remotely control someone's computer. It may sound a little unorthodox, but as the university describes it, 'it takes a thief to catch a thief'. The aim of the course is to provide students with knowledge of how illegal attacks can be performed - and ultimately, how they can be stopped.

Example modules: dynamic internet systems, digital forensics, cryptography

4. International Spa Management | University of Derby

Derby’s international spa management course covers the management, science and therapeutic skills required for understanding the spa environment. There is the opportunity to take a placement year, but all students will gain commercial experience working in the on-site day spa - Spa at the Dome.

Example modules: massage techniques, strategic management, balanced nutrition and spa cuisine


5. Viking studies | University College London

UCL’s viking studies degree is aimed at developing your knowledge and understanding of the Viking Age through study of the medieval and modern Scandinavian languages, Old Norse literature and medieval history. Students spend their third year abroad at a university in Denmark, Norway or Sweden.

Example modules: Nordic cinema, master and slave narratives, mythology and religion in Medieval Scandinavia


6. Applied golf management | University of Birmingham

A partnership between the University and the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA), Birmingham's golf management studies course gives students the chance to combine theoretical study with PGA-assessed vocational placements in a golf environment. Students will have the opportunity to represent Birmingham at golf competitions.
 
Example modules: the psychology of golf, coaching science, financial performance

7. Equestrian psychology & sports science | Nottingham Trent University

Students on NTU’s equestrian psychology and sports science course will study to develop a greater understanding of equine behaviour and the horse-human relationship. The course is based in rural Nottinghamshire, with a 200 hectare estate for outdoor fieldwork and research.

Example modules: equitation science, rider performance, equine assisted therapies

8. Cruise management | Plymouth University 

Supported by P&O Cruises, on Plymouth’s cruise management course you will develop professional hospitality management skills, helping to set you up for a career in the cruise industry. There is an optional placement year which is normally spent in paid employment with a cruise or hospitality organisation.

Example modules: cruise and maritime operations, food and drink operations, hospitality dynamics

9. Adventure education | University of Chichester

Chichester's adventure education course helps students to become adventure facilitators, focusing both on the theory of and the practical skills within the adventure environment. The course is designed to develop your technical skills in traditional outdoor pursuits as well as your personal attributes such as self-confidence.

Example modules: philosophy of adventure education, applied meteorology, adventure sport videography

 

And last but not least…
 

10. Harry Potter module - education studies | Durham University

So this one isn’t quite a degree all of its own, but Durham’s education studies module aims 'to place the phenomenon that is Harry Potter in its social, cultural and educational context and understand some of the reasons for its popularity'. Students will also consider the relevance of Harry Potter to the 21st century education system and make explicit connections between Harry Potter and citizenship education.

Example topics: Gryffindor and Slytherin: prejudice and intolerance in the classroom, welcome to Hogwarts: the commodification of education, anarchy and rebellion from Tom Brown to Harry Potter
 

The right course - for you

Whether it's an unconventional course you're keen on, or someting a little more traditional, the advice when it comes to finding the right course for you remains the same.

Question and research what the course content and modules actually involve, how you’ll be assessed and if you genuinely feel you’ll be passionate enough to spend the next three or four years studying it, understand what the subject might lead to in the longer term and what the university and local area will be like to live, study and socialise in.
 

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