Researching a course and institution

With thousands of undergraduate courses now available, you'll be spoiled for choice. But just how do you navigate through the noise to find one that best suits you?

Universities offer a wide range of specialised degree courses which equip students with sought-after skills, helping them to secure graduate roles with a huge variety of employers. But let's rewind - here's how we recommend narrowing down your options and rooting out the right course for you.

Get a head start

From as early as Year 10, it is a good idea to start researching universities. Take the time to consider if this is the route you would like to take. Look at what subjects you perform well in, and what topics interest you the most. You can then explore what universities offer a related course.

Check the example modules on each course

Not all courses with the same title are the same - course content can vary greatly between universities. Be sure to check example module listings and read the descriptions closely for a true picture on what you'll cover. It's also worth being mindful that exact module listings can vary slightly between years, so don't fixate on individual modules - look at the bigger picture and discuss course content with staff and students at any Open Days you might attend.

Be true to yourself

During school/college, it can be tempting to choose the same subjects as your friends so you can spend more time together (yes, we know all the tricks in the book.) However, it is so important that you prioritise your own education moving forward - University is all about personal development and you won't get far with that if you are putting everybody else's preferences before your own. However daunting it may feel, University is a fantastic opportunity to make more friends who share your hobbies, interests and ambitions. When researching degree courses, remember to follow your own heart and not those of your school/college friends.

Work backwards

If you have a specific career in mind, focus on courses that will provide you with relevant skills and qualifications. Check whether you need work experience, in which case you should opt for a course that offers a placement year. Do some research about potential career paths - what are the education requirements?

Search UCAS

The UCAS website is a fantastic resource when it comes to researching higher education courses. You can search by course or location to see all of your options in one convenient place. Be sure to bookmark this page – it’ll come in handy! Throughout the year, UCAS also hold a number of fairs and exhibitions which give you the chance to speak to representatives from UK universities and ask them questions about their courses and campus life. You can also gather prospectuses from universities you’re interested in to browse at your leisure. Take a strong bag though – prospectuses are heavy!

Attend Open Days

University Open Days are one of the best ways to gain more insight into courses and institutions of interest to you. Speak to staff and students about the course content and assessments, check out the learning facilities, tour campuses and generally get a feel for life as a student. Soak up the atmosphere on campus and ask yourself, “can I picture myself living here?”

Cross-reference league tables

League tables are not the be-all and end-all but they do offer an indication of how universities are performing - many of them are based on insights and feedback from real students. Ones to watch out for are The Guardian League Table, The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, The Complete University Guide and The Times Higher Education 'Table of Tables'.