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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Find a university or college course

When choosing a course, think about which subjects interest you, the type of qualification you want, and which style of studying suits you best. You can search for a course online.

Search for a course online

You can find out which universities and colleges offer the course you want online:

  • for full-time courses and all Foundation Degree courses, search on the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website
  • for part-time courses (other than Foundation Degrees), either contact the institution directly or search for courses on the National Careers Service course search

UCAS entry profiles and university prospectuses

The UCAS course search gives you the opportunity to check out the ‘entry profile’ for a course. As well as the qualifications and grades you’ll need, these may cover detailed information on the subject and course structure and more.

University prospectuses and open days are another useful source of information.

But there’s a huge range of courses on offer, and plenty to consider before you make your choice.

Open University courses

For Open University (OU) courses, contact the OU directly. Full-time OU courses are not offered through UCAS.

Choosing a subject

It's important to look beyond the course title

Far more subjects are available in higher education than at school. Many are vocational, and lead straight into a career, such as nursing or accountancy. Others are academic, ranging from subjects you may have studied before such as French or Geography, to less familiar ones like Social Policy.

You’ll need to look beyond the course title. Even courses with exactly the same name may (and probably will) differ enormously. Look carefully at the differences between courses within your subject before deciding which to apply for.

For example, if you’re interested in construction but wish to use your creative skills, you may be better suited to a Building Design Management course than a Building Project Management course.

Higher education courses are put together by individual universities and colleges, so what's included (and how they are delivered) will vary enormously - drawing on the strengths of the staff and facilities on hand.

Choosing a course to suit you

There's lots to think about when looking for the course that suits you best.

Higher education qualifications

Many people take degrees, such as a bachelor of science (BSc) or bachelor of arts (BA) qualification. Other options include studying for a Foundation Degree, a Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) or higher education diploma.

Mode of study

Think about the style of learning that best suits your needs and commitments: options include learning full time, part time or through flexible routes such as e-learning or distance learning courses.

Course components and options

See what kind of course combinations are on offer. ‘Joint honours’ courses combine different subject areas: for example, you could study English with History.

Many courses are 'modular'. This means they are made up of different subject blocks which deal with particular areas of interest. Modules may be delivered using a range of lectures, seminars and/or workshops.

You may have some say over some or all of the modules you study, or you may not. Either way, it's important to look at the components that will make up your course.

Some courses include placements, ‘sandwich’ years or even years abroad studying or gaining work experience. Foundation Degrees, for example, include work-based learning. These options may be of interest to you personally, or to future employers. If so, seek out courses that offer these opportunities.

Higher education and your career

While it’s important to study a subject you enjoy, it’s worth thinking about what type of career you want when you’ve finished your course.

If there’s a subject that you particularly enjoy, but you want to follow a career in a different area, you may want to look at doing a combined course. These allow you to study two (or more) subjects.

Not sure what type of course would suit you?

Online tools like the Stamford test can help match your interests and abilities to possible higher education courses. They can give an extremely useful insight into which ones might suit you best.

Finding out more about courses, colleges and universities

Once you’ve got a shortlist of courses that appeal to you, it’s worth looking at some of the other sources of information about them. See ‘Get facts and figures on universities, colleges and courses’ for details on how to get independent reports, information on completion rates, student satisfaction and more.

It’s also worth remembering that getting the most out of higher education isn’t just about getting on the right course. See ‘Choosing a college or university’ for advice on finding the right place to study.

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