How Many Courses Can You Take at University in the UK?

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If you’re in your first year of A-Levels, you might have been hearing a lot about UCAS applications and picking a university course. Choosing the right university course for you is a difficult and important job. You might find yourself agonising over choosing between two different courses, so is it possible to take two courses at the same time? 

While you can, in theory, take more than one course at the same time not all universities allow this. Even if you were to get accepted onto all of the courses, your workload would be extremely heavy to say the least.  

Still feeling indecisive? Not to fear – there is a plethora of options available that will allow you to get the best of multiple courses!  

Can You Study More Than One Course at University?

On a UCAS application you have five choices of course and university. There is nothing stopping you using all five of your choices to apply to courses at a single university. You might get accepted onto all five if you do this. However, wait before you rush off to edit your application – not all universities will be impressed if you apply for multiple courses with them.  

According to the uni guide, while most universities are happy for you to apply for more than one course with them, some universities would prefer that you only apply to one course. They believe by choosing one course it shows you are more committed to that course. Click here to find out more about the uni guide.

You can theoretically study more than one course, but think about it – is it really viable to attend double the number of lectures, write multiple dissertations and have to do twice the amount of homework? While some universities discourage or don’t permit students to work a part-time job, if you wanted to work as well as study, could you juggle a job on top of a jam-packed timetable? 

If you’re really stuck between two subjects, there are options that allow you to study both! Dual, major, and minor degrees allow you to study two subjects without the stress and intense workload of studying two degrees.  

What are Dual Degrees?

First the dual degree. It might also be called an honours degree, a dual honours degree, a joint honours degree or a combined honours degree, but these are all the same things.  

You can tell that a degree is a dual honours degree because it has ‘and’ in the title – for example, a dual honours degree available at the University of Sheffield is ‘Business Management and Modern Languages & Cultures.’ If this degree sounds appealing to you, here is a link to the degree’s page where you can learn more about it. The split of time between the subjects is usually 50/50.  

Some universities offer a set number of dual honours degrees. However, if you can’t find a dual honours degree combining the subjects that you want to study, no need to worry. Many universities, such as the University of Exeter, let you pick and choose the subjects you want to study in a dual honours’ degree! Want to learn more about dual honours degrees? Check out this article or this article

What are Major and Minor Degrees?

Dual honours degree doesn’t sound right for you? There are always major and minor degrees that you can study instead! Major and minor degrees, which are sometimes also called major and minor honours degrees, are slightly different than dual honours degrees, but the basic premise is really the same. 

If you have American friends or watch a lot of American television programmes, you might have already come across people who major in one subject and minor in another while at college (university is known as college in America).  

The difference between the two is that for major and minor degrees, the split between the two subjects is about 70/30 or 75/25. You can tell that a degree is a major and minor degree because it has ‘with’ in the title. An example of a major and minors’ degree at the University of Birmingham is ‘International Relations with Economics’. If this course appealing to you here’s a link to the degree’s page so that you can learn more.  

Want to learn more about major/minor degrees? Try this website or this website to learn more.  

Pros and Cons of Dual, Major and Minor Degrees

  • You don’t have to drop a subject that you really love (great if, like me, you can be very indecisive!).  
  • You graduate with not one, but two subjects in your degree title, which would make you stand out to potential employers. Having knowledge of two different subjects is also useful to keep your job opportunities open (again, great if you can be indecisive!). 
  • Learning two different subjects also helps you develop good time management and organisational skills, but without the stress of actually studying two full degrees.  

On the other hand, every silver lining has a cloud, and there are also some disadvantages to studying these kinds of degree.

  • You wouldn’t be able to study each individual subject in as much detail as you would if you studied a single subject. If the subjects you picked for a dual, major, or minor degree are very similar, this may not be such a problem, but if you chose very different subjects, this may become more of an issue.  
  • If you choose two very different subjects, the content and style of work that each subject requires can be very different. This could get very confusing, especially at first, but with practice I’m sure you would get better at juggling the subjects! 
  • It goes without saying that your workload would probably be heavier than that of a student studying a single degree.  

To find advantages and disadvantages in more detail, check out this article. It also contains an interview with a student who studied a dual honours degree! 

How to Decide Which Course(s) to Study at University

Like I mentioned in this article already (once or twice, or maybe three or four times), I can be a very indecisive person. However, after spending time doing research and thinking hard about what degree I want to study in the future, here are my tips for deciding what to study at university. 

Think About Your A-Level Subjects 

How did you pick those? Which subjects are you best at and which do you enjoy the most? At university, you’re usually studying just one subject (unless you go for one of the degrees mentioned above, that is), so you should make sure you enjoy and are good at said subject before studying it! 

Research is Key

There are so many degrees out there that it could prove overwhelming having so many options. There’s even a degree at Durham University that has a module studying Harry Potter, if that’s your thing. While it can seem overwhelming having so many options to choose from, it can also be great – that means there’ll be something out there that you’ll love! Check out this news article to find out more about the Harry Potter module.

Think About Your A-Level Results

What did you get in your mock exams? What are you predicted to get when you’re done? Most universities want or require certain A-Levels and grades to get onto different courses. If you’re really stuck on what to pick, the A-Level subjects you chose close doors to some degrees.  

The University Matters as Much as the Degree

Yes, this article focuses mostly on which course to choose, but picking the right university for you is also very important. If you’re struggling to choose between courses, you can narrow the contenders down based on the universities you’re going to apply to.  

When choosing universities to apply to, it’s important to consider factors like how far away from home you want to be, the clubs that they have there, the living costs and if you think you would enjoy living there. If you can, you should visit the university and the community it’s in to get a feel for the place.  

Attend University Open Days

Universities hold open days whereby you can visit the campus. Many universities also are doing virtual open days. This does mean you don’t actually get to visit the community, but virtual open days can be useful, nonetheless. Make sure you ask lots of questions.  

If you’re still struggling on deciding between courses, or even what course you want to do in the first place, ask questions about dual, major, and minor degrees, the workload of each course and the entry requirements to help narrow down your pool of choices.  

Take Part in Some Extracurricular Activities

With exams, revision, and homework, taking part in extracurricular activities may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s still an important thing to consider. Maybe you could do some reading, find some YouTube channels or documentaries, attend lectures, or go to clubs or discussion groups in a variety of subjects.  

This will give you more of an opportunity to find out what you enjoy if you’re really struggling. Plus, if you find something you’d like to study at university – great! Attending extracurriculars about the subject will give you plenty to write about in your personal statement.  

Can You Swap or Drop a University Course?

I’m probably overwhelming you with the scope of choices available right now, so you may be wondering if you can switch to a new course when at university. Well, you can, but you need to find out if there are spaces on the course you want to swap to and also find out if you meet that course’s entry requirements.  

You might also have to have an interview with the course tutor. If you are swapping to a course in the same department as the one you’re already studying, this process may be a lot easier. However, swapping to an entirely new subject may mean you need to restart in the next academic year. Additionally, switching courses is usually only possible in the first term, if at all.  Want more information on this? For detailed information and quotes from universities, try this article or this article. 

Can You Drop Out of University Altogether? 

What if you want to leave university altogether? Be wary – this isn’t an easy decision. There are options available that allow you to keep studying, so if you’re considering this option make sure to consult the university you’re studying at. The options they could give you could include studying part time instead of full time to ease your workload and stress. I recommend you check out this article if you are thinking about dropping out of university.

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