Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

What to study at university? Choosing the right degree

Want to study for a degree, but unsure how to choose a university course? Here’s what you need to know before deciding what to study at university.

Girl studying at desk

From diving into subjects you’re passionate about, to increasing your earning potential, earning a degree qualification can arm you with the skills you need to be set up for success.

But, with tens of thousands of courses to choose from, you’re probably asking yourself, “what degree should I do?” This guide is here to help you focus your search and to offer advice, so you can confidently choose the right university course.

What to study at university?

Investing in your future success, whether personally or professionally, hinges on choosing the right degree – and with most degrees taking up to three years to complete, it’s crucial to find one that meets your needs.

It’s also important to keep an open mind. Take time to look at your options, and don’t be afraid to explore ones you’ve never considered before. For example, you may want to consider studying for your degree online or choosing a subject you have not studied before.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ to studying at university, and you should put your own aspirations first when making your decision.

Whether studying online or in-person, you should consider:

  • Your interests
  • Subjects you have experience in studying
  • Your professional goals
  • The skills you’d like to learn
  • How you would like to study

These key factors will help you pinpoint a degree that works for you. 

Degree options

Before selecting a university course, it’s essential to know the type of degree you want.

Types of degree

Firstly, you’ll need to choose between an ‘undergraduate degree’ or a ‘postgraduate degree’. Simply put, an undergraduate degree is your entry-level qualification, typically gained during your first stint at university. These degrees include:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc)
  • Bachelor of Medicine (MB)

On the other hand, postgraduate degrees, such as a Master’s degree, are more advanced and usually require you to have already gained an undergraduate degree. These include:

  • Master’s degrees (e.g. MA, MSc, MEd)
  • Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) & Postgraduate diplomas (PGDip)
  • Doctorate or Doctoral Degree (PhD, MPhil)

Ways to study

When selecting a course, it’s important to think about how you want to study. You can choose between studying full-time, part-time, or a blend of both.

Although a part-time degree will generally take longer to complete, it offers you flexibility to balance your studies with work or family commitments.

You also have the option to study either in-person or online, with both leading to fully-accredited degrees. Online learning has seen a surge in popularity and accessibility, with many prestigious universities now offering online degrees across various subjects.

How to choose a university course

Deciding what to study at university is exciting, but even if you’re raring to go – be sure to take the time to consider your options.

Think about subjects that particularly interest you, a career you’d like, or something you are particularly good at. You should also look into the specific modules for each degree, as this varies from course to course.

We’ve highlighted some top tips to help you make an informed decision and start your learning journey off on the right foot.

Decide on a subject area

You may have a gut feeling for what you want to study, or perhaps the prospect of choosing a subject seems daunting. Either way, taking the time to explore all your options can help you reap the rewards for years to come.

Whether it’s mastering business strategy with a Business and Management degree, being at the forefront of the latest innovations with an IT and Computer Science degree, or unravelling human behaviour with a psychology degree, choosing a subject that inspires you is key.

Some things to ask yourself:

  • What subjects did you get your best grades in?
  • What subjects did you enjoy most at school or college?
  • Why did you enjoy studying this subject? – Will it be the same at university?
  • Do you love theory, where you pour over a book and offer your viewpoint – or are you more ‘hands-on’ and keen to put things into practice?
  • Is there anything you wish you had the chance to study at school?

Think about your career goals

Having a degree gives you an edge in the job market, and equips you with workplace-ready skills essential for many careers. So, while your career ambitions may evolve over time, it’s wise to consider them carefully when deciding what to study at university.

Do this by evaluating the courses themselves and taking the time to look up the demand in the job market for graduates in your chosen field. You can go further and research potential salaries and career paths that you may come to expect.

You should also compare your favourite courses with job descriptions that appeal to you. This will give you a sense of the technical know-how and transferable skills you’ll gain from your studies.

For instance, if you’re considering a degree in Computer Science, researching available jobs in the IT industry can reveal lucrative career paths like software development or cybersecurity, helping you to make an informed decision on which course to take.

You may also want to reach out to professionals in your desired industry for insights into required skills and qualifications. Networking with experts can provide invaluable guidance for your studies and future career.

Whatever your ambitions, by keeping your career goals front of mind, you can ensure that your university studies align with your future ambitions, setting you on a path to success in your chosen field.

Consider compatibility

Your passions are vital when finding the right degree, but you should also consider your compatibility for the subject. 

When deciding, think about your skills, academic strengths, and the grades you received in related subjects.

For example, if you excel in problem-solving and analytical thinking, you might consider a degree in IT or engineering. But, if you have always received high marks for your creative writing and are a strong communicator, a degree in literature or marketing could be a good fit. 

Consider your preferred learning environment. Whether on campus or online, university studies involve a mix of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and collaborative work, and will be different to your school studies.

Choosing a subject that plays to your strengths and interests is the best way to set yourself up for success in your university studies. 

Align with your interests

You also want to be sure that your chosen subject aligns with your interests and passions. With years’ of study ahead, choosing a course that excites and motivates you will improve your overall university experience.

Think about the topics that you enjoy learning about, the books you read, the documentaries you watch, or the podcasts you listen to – and how these interests can match your long-term aspirations.

Most of all, trust your instincts. A degree will undoubtedly improve your career prospects, so finding something you’re passionate about is key to you getting the most from the experience.

Consider degree modules

Once you’ve pinpointed the subject you want to study, make sure you explore the specific details of each course on offer.

Even within the same subject area, each course may vary in their teaching methods, how you will be assessed, and the specific modules (topics) you study.

For example, say you want to study a BSc in Psychology, some courses will focus on teaching you a theoretical understanding of the subject in greater depth, while others will spend more time training you on practical situations such as therapy and counselling.

Choose a degree which covers modules that interest you most, or best provide you with valuable skills and knowledge for your future career. Make sure to review the module offerings carefully and seek advice if needed.

Choosing an online degree

Online degrees are fully accredited and hold the same value in the eyes of employers as those completed in person. With a host of benefits to choosing an online degree, it’s no wonder that more and more people are studying online.


One major advantage is the flexibility it offers students. Whether you prefer to study full-time, part-time, or even ‘on demand’, online degrees allow you to seamlessly pursue your passions and improve your career prospects alongside other commitments.

Cost-effective study

Studying online means you don’t need to relocate to your chosen university’s location. This not only makes online degrees a cost-effective option, as you’ll save on accommodation, but opens up new opportunities of what, where, and how you can study.


With a growing number of digital tools at your disposal, you can be sure that you will be fully engaged with the subject and feel connected with your peers and teachers throughout your studies, making it a rich and immersive learning experience.

Final thoughts

So, there we have it. Whether you choose to pursue a traditional on-campus degree or opt for the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of studying online, the key is to find a university course that aligns with your passions, skills, goals, and learning style.

By carefully considering these factors, you can confidently choose a course that sets you up for success in your university studies and beyond. 

Related stories on FutureLearn

FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now