Choosing a course
Follow our top tips for choosing a course to study at university.
How to choose a course
If you've decided university is for you, it's now time to choose a course to study. Start with choosing a subject before you select a university. This way you won’t be disappointed if the university you set your heart on doesn’t teach your course. There's a lot of choice out there, so how do you pin down just one subject area to study?
Select a subject you love
Think about subjects that interest you, something you enjoy and could do all day, everyday. Make sure it's a subject you are passionate about and want to learn more about.
If your interest is in a more obscure subject area, make sure it's available at the university you want to study at, or if the university offering it is somewhere you'd like to live.
Remember, there might be subjects available at university that you couldn't study at school or college, so make sure you explore all of your options.
You should also make sure your grades meet the specific GCSE and A-level requirements for the course. At Sussex, we recognised the challenges and disruption everyone experienced in the global Covid-19 pandemic, so we took the decision to reduce our entry requirements for 2021. With the ongoing uncertainties, we have kept this reduced level for 2022. Find out more about contextual offers and explore our courses.
Research and compare courses
Once you know your subject area, delve a bit deeper and start looking at specific courses at a range of universities.
Compare the syllabus, modules, teaching methods and opportunities for studying abroad or work placements.
No two courses are the same, English Literature at one university could follow a very different syllabus at another. If your heart is set on studying a particular topic, make sure it's listed as a module or area of study.
Check the facilities available
Take a virtual campus tour, or visit a number of universities at their Open Days. This way you can see the type of facilities available to you while you study.
Consider if the facilities, equipment and study spaces suit your needs.
Find out if your course is flexible
Can you customise your course? If you're dreaming of studying abroad, learning a language, or getting your foot in the door at your dream job, make sure your course gives you these opportunities.
Some courses allow you to add on a study abroad year or term, or go on a work placement at an organisation.
Look at teaching methods
Find out how you will study and research teaching methods.
Are you happy with the face-to-face contact time you'll have with lecturers, the way you'll learn and the amount of coursework and/or examinations you'll have to sit?
Think about the study skills you'll need, and the skills you'll learn.
Browse subject specific league tables
Don't just think about where a university ranks in university league tables, also check their subject specific rankings.
A university might rank highly as an institution but not as well for the subject area you want to study.
Understand the different types of degree
From Foundation Years to Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees, and Bachelor of Arts (BA) to Masters of Engineering (MEng) degrees, there's a lot of different courses to choose from. Make sure you understand the difference and how course content differs between each one.
For example, at Sussex, you have the opportunity to study either a BA or BSc in Geography. The BA explores human geography and the social sciences, while the BSc looks at geography from an environmental and natural sciences perspective.
You may also decide to study a joint degree (where you'll usually study two subjects, both taking up 50% of your time) or a major/minor (where your major subject takes up 75% of your time and the additional (minor) area takes up 25% of your time).
Find out about the different types of courses at Sussex.
See what you can do with your degree
If you know the career path you want to follow, does your chosen course help you towards your future goals?
Does it have accreditation? Certain careers require degrees with accreditation in order to progress within them.
If you aren't sure what you'd like to do after university, see what to do with your degree.
Studying a new subject
Thinking of applying to study a subject you've never studied before? Meet Selina, that's what she did and she's here to give you some advice on how to prepare and what to expect.
If you've decided that university is for you and you've decided on a subject, it's now time to think about choosing the right place to study.
Things to consider include:
- does it have the course you want to study
- can you meet the entry requirements (what universities advertise and what they accept can vary)
- what facilities are on offer
- what is the accommodation like and how much does it cost
- is it the right distance from home and are there good transport links
- is it where you want to live and do you want to live in a city or in the countryside (for example Sussex is nine minutes from the city of Brighton & Hove)
- how will you fund your studies and are there any scholarships available to you
- can you work while you study or volunteer
- do you want to study abroad.
Choosing the right university is an important decision, you should:
- keep researching
- go to open days and taster sessions
- register for updates at the universities you are interested in.
Find out everything that makes Sussex a great place to study, work and call your home.