The most popular degree choices are much trickier to get onto as there are more people vying for every place. If you have a university in mind that you really wish to attend and you are worried that you might not get accepted, choosing a less popular degree could be a good option.
Or you might want to explore something new and different that might be equally as interesting that you've never heard of before. Whatever your reasons, here are some alternatives to the UK's most popular degree choices. A word of warning...it's a long list!
1. Marine Biology
If you didn’t know, aquaculture is the rearing of aquatic animals and plants that includes cultures of species such as prawns, shrimps, mussels, oysters, crocodiles, turtles and algae, and aquaculture already produces more than half of all of the fish consumed globally. Modules might include evolution and genetics, animal physiology, production environments, disease, nutrition, and microbiology. Upon graduating you’ll be well equipped to work in the aquaculture industry or to work with related pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies. Potential roles include pollution control, environmental impact assessment, fisheries management, governmental regulation, and conservation.
1.2 Conservation Biology
Conservation Biology is the applied science of maintaining the earth’s biological diversity and the course introduces students to the main issues in managing and conserving biodiversity at the UK and global scales. You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of biological sciences (ecology, biodiversity, cell biology, physiology, genes, and evolution) alongside environmental sciences (people and the environment, global environmental issues, the biosphere, and environmental policy and management) and the practical skills you’ll need to work in the field.
2.1 Biomedical Science
Biomedical science is the application of biology-based science for medical use, be it research, health monitoring, or treatment. The degree course offers you broad training in a wide range of medically related disciplines, including physiology, pharmacology, neuroscience, cell biology, microbiology, anatomy and histology, genetics, biochemistry and immunology. Many courses also contain a strong practical component, providing a sound basis for a career at the forefront of medical research.
2.2 Healthcare Science
Healthcare Science is a practical degree that combines academic study with NHS placements to provide professional training in the medical and biological sciences. It leads to a career in clinical physiology, specialising in cardiac physiology or respiratory and sleep physiology. You’ll spend about a third of your time on placements and you’ll learn how to record and analyse a range of investigations and diagnostic tests.
Pharmacists are health care professionals with a strong background in sciences, whose expertise covers all aspects of the design, development, delivery, supply, control and use of drugs. University degrees are hands-on, so from the very start of your course you’ll be encouraged to apply your understanding of the scientific principles of pharmacy within a patient-focused setting through case-based workshops, problem-based learning, integrated science and clinical scenarios
3. Sport Psychology
3.1 Sports Science
Sports Science focuses on the scientific basis of performance in sport and participation in exercise. You’ll learn the disciplines of sport and exercise physiology, biomechanics and psychology, performance analysis, sports coaching, strength and conditioning, and fitness instruction and personal training. During your degree, there will be opportunities for you to develop your practical contextual knowledge in exercise settings, training, coaching and performance. However, although this article is meant to acknowledge less popular degrees, sports science is still up there!
3.2 Sports Coaching
Sports Coaching offers you the ability to develop your academic knowledge, skills and understanding of the coaching process in a range of applied contexts, including community, grassroots, elite, international and disability sport. You’ll develop transferable vocational skills through the delivery, assessment and work experience opportunities provided throughout the programme, with the option to specialise in specific areas of interest that include match analysis, strength and conditioning, sports psychology and sport and international development.
3.3 Personal Training
A Personal Training degree helps you gain industry-recognised professional qualifications alongside an understanding of the scientific basis of training and conditioning. In addition to studying and practising modern, evidence-based, training techniques you will study the underpinning disciplines of personal training. Modules in anatomy, physiology, nutrition, psychology and fitness and health will be studied alongside modules in research methods, business practice and entrepreneurship. The programme is designed to produce knowledgeable, reflective and research-informed professional Personal Trainers with the applied skills needed to meet the needs of the industry and the government's fitness, health and wellbeing agenda.
4. Computer Sciences
4.1 Business Systems
Business Systems gives you a thorough understanding of how information technology and computer-based systems help businesses. Through a mixture of theory and ‘real world’ practice, you will learn how to assess organisational problems and to create the best computing solutions to solve business needs. You can also specialise in areas such as eBusiness, Human-Computer Interaction, or Social Media.
4.2 Forensic Computing
A degree in Forensic Computing develops your technical and theoretical skills encompassing the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data recovered from computer-based devices such as PCs, mobile phones, tablets, network equipment and storage devices to establish factual evidence in a manner that is admissible in a court of law. The course also covers the English legal system, handling and preserving evidence, courtroom skills, and expert witness skills, plus professional reporting, and personal and organisational ethics.
5. Paramedical Science
5.1 Diagnostic Radiography
A Diagnostic Radiography degree gives you the knowledge, skills and experience for a rewarding career in diagnostic radiography. You could work in one of several sections within the hospital medical-imaging department and carry out a variety of imaging investigations, including projection radiography, computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. You will produce images to obtain or confirm a diagnosis, or you may be involved in therapeutic procedures like angioplasty. A Diagnostic Radiotherapy course combines academic study with practise placements in imaging departments.
5.2 Operating Department Practice Studies
The Operating Department Practice Studies programme is designed to ensure early exposure to practice where you will gain experience across a variety of specialist areas including general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, ear, nose and throat, obstetric surgery, anaesthetic and post anaesthetic care. Alongside the skills and knowledge you’ll gain on placements you’ll develop evidence-based learning with lectures, seminars and practical activities in clinical skills labs and simulated operating theatre.
6. Actuarial Science
6.1 Business, Innovation and Enterprise
Business, Innovation and Enterprise are ideal if you are interested in developing new businesses, while also recognising the importance of understanding business fundamentals and how small and medium-sized enterprises gain viability in specific contexts. You will explore how innovation and business development can be undertaken by both start-up and established organisations and evaluate the risks and challenges that this presents. The aim is to follow ideas from inception, through development, to launch. If you see yourself as someone who is creative, can take the initiative, and welcomes change and challenge, then this is the course for you.
6.2 Business Analytics
Data analysts use their specialist skills to help organisations make more effective business decisions. The Business Analytics degree will allow you to apply data analysis skills in companies and organisations, using statistical analysis to support evidence-based decision-making. You’ll study economics, organisational behaviour, marketing and management decision-making to give you an understanding of the modern business environment. You may also be able to tailor your degree to suit your own interests such as sports analytics, business economics and advertising.
Criminology is an in-depth study of crime, punishment and victimisation. The degree programme will develop a knowledge and understanding of the core schools of criminological thought, their historical and political foundations and practical application. You’ll develop an understanding of local and national criminal justice agencies, such as regional police forces and community safety partnerships, charities, pressure groups, criminal rehabilitation probation services and prisons.
7.2 Human Resource Management
A degree in Human Resource Management will give you an understanding of the range of approaches to the challenges of people management and development, and help you gain the important skills necessary to work in an HR role. You will also develop the knowledge, skills and capabilities you require to respond proactively and creatively to contemporary business issues and the challenges of the global business environment.
Styling teaches you the creative, technical and business skills required by the industry whilst guiding you to develop your own individual talent through work experience and practical projects. You’ll graduate with a thorough understanding of how stylists work across different media in magazines, advertising, design, catwalk shows, digital media and e-commerce, and your practical work will be underpinned with the study of relevant academic theory, to help you to develop a comprehensive, innovative and appropriate visual language informed by a strong understanding of styling’s historical and contemporary contexts.
8.2 Beauty Promotion
Think a career as a beauty editor, PR, marketing executive, brand manager, or trend forecaster might be for you? In taking a Beauty Promotion degree you’ll learn advertising, PR and creative marketing skills, specialising in the beauty industry.
9.1 Policing and Criminal Justice
Police and Criminal Justice Studies is a degree for those with an interest in a policing-related career and the academic study of policing. Alongside the academics, you gain plenty of volunteering and work-based learning opportunities and a national pre-join qualification that is recognised by police forces in England and Wales: the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing.
9.2 International Relations
International relations explores how states interact with each other and the degree offers you a historical understanding of the development of the ‘society of states' and how it is changing today. You’ll examine the ways in which states behave and what obligations they may have to wider conceptions of international society. You’ll explore the political dynamics that influence interstate cooperation, and the roles of international organisations like the UN in promoting international peace and security. Core modules will likely give you the opportunity to gain expertise in specific regions and states including the Middle East, EU, Africa and the United States, while optional modules will allow you to explore specialist topics that suit your interests, from terrorism and security studies to development challenges, gender and violence or political theory.
10.1 Sports Rehabilitation/Sports Therapy
Sports Rehabilitation provides the skills and knowledge for the management of musculoskeletal injury, progressing on to health and fitness training programmes. It’s likely that you’ll undertake work-based clinical placements as an integral part of your degree and experience the benefits of combining academic theory with clinical practice in the working environment.