The Type of Course and Course Content

Having decided what you want to study, you will be faced with a variety of ways of studying it.

  • The most basic difference is between the levels of the courses.
  • While most higher education courses lead to a degree, some lead to sub-degree qualifications such as a Higher National Diploma (HND) or a Foundation Degree.
  • In general sub-degree courses will be shorter, more vocationally orientated and have lower entry requirements.
  • Some will be linked to degree courses, giving you the option of progressing to a degree if you perform well enough on the early parts of the course.

Some differences between courses relate to aspects of the subject itself.

  • Only the very largest academic departments have expertise in all aspects of a subject and so, especially in the later years, the course will focus on the particular expertise of the department.
  • You will need to decide whether a particular course offers the areas of the subject you want to study.
  • Of course you may not know, or may change your mind as you go through the course. If you think this is likely, then a course in a large department with a wide range of options might be best.

Even for courses with a similar content, there may be significant differences. Some of the opportunities you may want to consider are:

  • Spending a year or part of a year in the European Union under an ERASMUS programme.
  • Taking time away from the university on a work placement, year abroad or sandwich course integrated into the degree. These courses usually involve paid placements and include a project/essay related to the degree subject and placement – to add relevance and context.
  • Extending the course to four or five years to obtain a Master's degree (common for engineering and some science courses). Some of these courses can be integrated with study abroad or work placements allowing students to gain an Master's qualification alongside relevant experience. These are called Integrated Masters degrees.
  • Studying or working abroad as part of an exchange programme but not related to language study.

Read our article about the Erasmus programme.