Guiding university choice

Module progress:

Session two: Reading and Exercise one

Types of degree

Alongside a wide range of subject choice you will also find different types of degree structures. These can include:

Traditional Academic Subject Degree – such as English Literature, History or Physics which offer in-depth study of one particular subject.

Professional Degree – this will provide you with the knowledge and skills in a particular career area and also qualify you to start a career in this area on completion of the degree. For example Building Surveying, some Engineering-based degrees, Teaching and various health-based degrees including Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, and Radiography.

Semi-Professional Degree – this sort of degree will provide knowledge of a subject but would still entail further specialist training for example – Accountancy, Law and Psychology.

Joint Degree – offers you the opportunity to study more than one subject as part of the degree structure. Within a Joint Honours degree you will study two subjects. You will find a range of opportunities in this area. Some will be subjects that link closely together (Maths and Engineering), some will offer additional knowledge and skills to perhaps help with future career ideas (Business Studies with a language). Others on offer such as Chemistry and English appear to have no direct subject link but offer students a breadth of study.

Combined Studies Degree – offers you the opportunity to study a range of subjects. If you are studying A Levels this sort of degree provides a continuation of multi-subject study over three years often allowing you to specialise in one subject in your final year. Apart from titles like Combined Studies, degrees in Humanities, Integrated Science and Liberal Arts all offer this interdisciplinary subject choice.

‘Sandwich’ Degree – if you are looking at a vocational pathway then what are commonly known as ‘sandwich’ degrees offer you the opportunity to gain experience of a particular job area. Sandwich degrees integrate placements (usually a year) in the workplace. These are very common in areas like Business Studies, Computer Science and Engineering.

Foundation Degrees – are vocational courses which focus on a particular area of work (e.g. Crime Scene and Forensic Investigation, Restaurant Management, Sports Coaching and Exercise). They are usually two years in length and are not a full degree. However, they are not a dead end – many people transfer onto the final year of a degree or study a ‘top up’ year to convert them into a full degree.

New opportunities – opportunities in higher education are always expanding. For example, recent developments such as Degree Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships offer the opportunity to study for a degree within a work-based environment.


We are now going to give you some time to reflect on your thoughts about the type of degree that might interest you. Spend about 5 minutes thinking about the advantages and disadvantages for YOU of each of the different types of degrees available and then complete the table in Handout ‘C’.


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