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Choosing a course, and university or college

Choosing a course, and university or college

What to look for in a course

Ultimately, those thinking about what to study should consider the subjects they enjoy and where certain courses could lead. Use our online Course Guide to help you see what courses are on offer in the South West.

Watch this video from UCAS for more tips.

Here are some of the common questions and answers relating to HE courses:

Q. Are all courses structured and delivered in the same way?

Courses can vary in terms of what content is covered and the way it’s delivered. Much of the content will be delivered through lectures, seminars and workshops, but many ‘hands on’ courses will have varying amounts of fieldwork or lab work.

Q. What if I want to study more than one subject?

Some institutions allow students to study two subjects at degree level. These courses are known as joint (or combined honours) degrees. In these cases, the two subjects will be ones that complement each other, such as Business with Spanish, or Psychology with Criminology.

Q Are all courses assessed in the same way?

Most courses will adopt a range of assessment techniques, including exams, assignments, presentations and reports. Students might also be assessed on practical work conducted in laboratories or in the field. If this information isn’t stated on an HEI’s website, email or call them to find out.

Q. I want to study in higher education, but can’t decide on a course. What should I do?

Some courses are more vocational than others, such as, nursing, dentistry, architecture, and engineering. These courses are designed to prepare students for specific careers as opposed to courses with a more academic focus. Vocational routes are a good option for those who know what career they want to enter into, as they are designed to prepare students for specific careers. However, for those who want to keep their options open, they could consider a more general course – for example, mathematics, sociology, psychology, geography etc.

Q. How can I find out what a university or college is really like?

The best way to find out what an HEI is really like is to hear from past or current students. Websites such as thestudentroom.co.uk and thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk provide a great platform for this. You’ll also get the chance to speak to current students if you attend open days.

Where to study

Some students decide to study locally as they are able to save money on accommodation and other living costs by staying at home. However, many students use HE as a chance to leave home for the first time and experience living in a different environment from what they’re used to.

For many students, living in halls of residence or shared accommodation is a major part of the student experience as it provides the opportunity to meet new people and develop independence.

For holiday periods, and a variety of other reasons, many students will return home, so they should consider the distance that they will need to travel and what the transport links are like between their hometown and place of study.

Top tip!
Attending more than one open day can help you make comparisons, so you can be sure that you’re making the right decision about the course and institution.

Open days

Before making any decision on where to study, attending an open day is a great way to get a feel for a place and to find out more about the course and facilities. They also provide the opportunity to tour the campus and speak to current students and staff.

It’s normal for parents or carers to attend open days with their children – in fact it’s encouraged. It can help if you have family support making the decision of where to study. It can also put everyone’s minds at rest, once you’ve moved away, if your family can visualise their new surroundings.

Check out our partners’ Virtual Experiences and search for national Open Days

Next: UCAS and the application process

Helpful Resources: Applicant Guide

Blog: Making the most of UCAS exhibitions


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