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Study Tips

16 most unusual university degrees

Still unsure what to study at university? These are some of the quirkiest university courses on offer, and we bet you haven't considered them yet...

Man with thought bubbles with a cow, beer, a condom and a cupcake

Credit: Luis Molinero, Vjom, Kraipet Sritong, Viiviien, Dmytro Khlystun, JFunk – Shutterstock

A quick search of uni courses on UCAS brings up a whole array of weird and wonderful degree subjects that not only help you to stand out from the masses but also make for a great conversation starter at the pub.

We've trawled the UK higher education landscape to dig out some of the best degrees you've probably never heard of.

Looking for the right degree for you? Read on and you might come across your ideal (if a little unusual) university subject.

Check out the list of mistakes every fresher makes.

Weirdest degrees to study at university

Here are some of the best, most unusual subjects you can study at university:

  1. Viticulture and Oenology

    Nope, we didn't know what these words meant either, but it turns out that they both have to do with the consumption of booze.

    A BSc (Hons) degree with the Wine department at Plumpton College teaches you all about the science of grape-growing and wine-making and is said to set you right up for a career in wine production.

    While some graduates have gone on to be vineyard managers, winemakers and much more, if you still can't get enough of the subject, you can even go on to do an MA and a PhD in it.

  2. Horology

    Students on the Horology degree at Birmingham City University devote their time to... well, time.

    Combining the art and science of time measurement, you could set yourself up for a nice career in the luxury watch industry, or you could even nurture your inner entrepreneur and start your own time-related business. Time is money.

  3. Air Transport with Helicopter Training

    parked helicopter

    Credit: Makushin Alexey – Shutterstock

    Ever wished you could fly a helicopter? You and us both.

    At Buckinghamshire New University, you could study Aviation Management with Helicopter Pilot Training and live the dream.

    Once you've completed the course, you'll be qualified to find a job as a helicopter pilot. Or, as you'll also learn loads about the aviation industry, like the financial side of it and airline management, you could also pursue a range of other similar careers.

  4. Ethical Hacking

    'Ethical' and 'hacking' are two words you might not expect to go together. But at the University of Abertay in Dundee, you can discover everything you could ever need to know about computer hacking and cybersecurity on their Ethical Hacking course.

    If you're not much of a computer whizz, this degree will be news to you, but for anyone immersed in the world of computer science and online security, this course is old hat.

    Don't scoff at this one either, as Ethical Hacking boasts a very high graduate employment rate.

    And while we're on the subject, see our tips on how not to get hacked yourself.

  5. Brewing and Distilling

    Students and alcohol go together like gin and tonic. Why not embrace this by enrolling on the MSc Brewing and Distilling degree at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh?

    This is actually a pretty popular degree and career path (alcohol is big business in the UK), so you'll need to fight off some stiff competition by having a keen interest in science and the brewing process, as opposed to just drinking the produce (although that would still be an undeniable perk).

    Top employers in the beverage industry often hunt down students with this degree, so contrary to what many might think, graduate employment rates are high.

    And just imagine your homework being to brew some homemade beer while your housemate slaves away over a 20-page Modern History thesis...

  6. Ethnobotany

    Obsessed with decorating your uni home with greenery? Humans have historically had a super interesting relationship with plants, which you can learn all about on the MSc Ethnobotany course at the University of Kent.

    It's the first programme of its kind, exploring how humans understand and respond to plants, how we use them, how we modify them and more.

    The year-long master's course is ideal for anyone looking to go into doctoral research or pursue a career in the botanical and environmental fields. Plantastic.

  7. Animal Behaviour and Psychology

    Horse sticking tongue out

    Ever dreamed of becoming an animal whisperer? Now's your chance.

    The Animal Behaviour and Psychology degree at the University of Chester teaches you about the way animals think and feel (cockroaches have personalities according to the subject spec!).

    The course has a focus on wild animals that are free-living, and there's scope for international fieldwork.

  8. Baking Science and Technology

    Another degree option you might not have thought of? BSc (Hons) Baking Science and Technology at London South Bank University.

    It might sound too good to be true, but you can, in fact, study a degree that teaches you skills like artisan chocolate training and advanced bread technology. Clearly, there's a lot more to cake than just eating it.

    If you fancy yourself as the next Mary Berry, then this three-year course will also teach you the management and commercial shenanigans to back up your new career move.

    And we're probably not the first to say this, but you'd definitely be the most popular person in your university halls with all that practice you'll be getting...

  9. Sexual Health Studies

    The first of its kind in the UK, the Sexual Health Studies course at UCLan might cause a few awkward conversations with your parents, but it's a great shout for those looking for a career in sexual health services.

    Modules include cultural and sociological perspectives of sexuality, design and delivery of sex and relationship education, and global perspectives of sexual health.

    Awkward looks aside, it's probably worth it for the long-term rewarding career.

  10. Circus and Physical Theatre

    If studying Contemporary Circus and Physical Theatre at Bath Spa University doesn't float your boat then, quite frankly, we don't know what will.

    It's a top contender for the most fun-sounding degree we've come across. You'll learn a whole host of skills and receive top physical training from experts in the field.

    To be honest, it shouldn't be hard to sell this course to you. But, this foundation degree course is definitely not for everyone and the circus lecturers take it very seriously – so no clowning around (sorry, couldn't resist).

  11. Fire Engineering

    Interested in fire? That's fire safety, for the record, not fire starting.

    At UCLan, you can get a degree in Fire Engineering, which is ideal if you're aiming for a senior role in fire safety. The course also offers the option to do a 48-week industrial placement between your second and third year, which could really help to boost your CV when you start your graduate job search.

    And, if nothing else, this degree's got to be worth it for the chance to refer to yourself as an Engineer of Fire (P.S. please don't actually tell fire safety recruiters you're an Engineer of Fire, this might not go down well).

  12. Hand Embroidery

    If you're looking for a really unique university course, you could try BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework.

    It might be a niche skill, but don't write this one off just yet – it's the only full-time degree in Europe to specialise in hand embroidery. In your second year, it's possible to undertake a work placement within fashion, interiors or textile art – however, this isn't mandatory and will be the student's responsibility.

  13. Floral Design

    person arranging flowers

    You could study this as a short course, but why would you want to do that when you can get a full-blown degree in Floral Design at University Centre Myerscough?

    This course teaches floral art, business planning and more to help students prepare for a career in floristry.

    At the very least, your uni bedroom will look and smell amazing with all of the flowers you'll have laying around. That said, there'd be no excuse for service station flowers anymore – whatever the occasion.

  14. Dairy Herd Management

    The two-year Sustainable Agriculture course with Dairy Herd Management, found at University Centre Reaseheath, will set you up nicely for life with a whole host of dairy farming-related skills.

    Set in Cheshire, you'll get the economic, legal and managerial know-how on how to run a dairy business.

  15. Surf Science

    It doesn't take a genius to guess that a Surf Science foundation degree would be offered exclusively at Cornwall College (part of the University of Plymouth)... by the beach!

    If surfing is your thing, then where better to study it than in Cornwall? While this course won't teach you how to surf, you'll be in a great position to work for brands such as Billabong or Surfers Against Sewage when you graduate, or even set up your own surf shack.

  16. Prop Making

    If you're looking for an arty job in the entertainment industry, it's definitely worth considering the Prop Making degree at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

    As part of the degree, you'd get the chance to undertake industry placements and gain first-hand experience of this (rather brilliant) career path. You'd also receive intensive training in prop making throughout the course, helping you to really develop your art and design skills.

    Plus, as a nice added bonus, you could also start making props for Central's public performances while studying there – a pretty amazing opportunity.

It's easy to overlook unusual degrees, but you never know where they could take you. Although they're certainly niche, you could stand a better chance of getting a graduate job if you can prove yourself as an expert in your niche field.

You might also be interested in knowing what kind of salary you could expect from your degree once you graduate...

Laura Brown

WRITTEN BY Laura Brown

Laura Brown, Head of Editorial at Save the Student, is an award-winning writer with expertise in student money. She project manages influential national student surveys and has presented findings to MPs in Westminster. As an expert on student issues, Laura has been quoted by the BBC, the Guardian, Metro and more.
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