I go onto the UCAS website to see what kind of undergraduate degrees are available to the bright young things who have just received their A-level results and are preoccupied with posing mid-air with the results for newspaper photo collages. In no way do I intend to study any of the courses I see on there, but over time I’ve come to appreciate the, uh, shall we say ‘diversity’ of what’s available.
Let’s get things straight – if I tried to list all the stupid courses I found on UCAS in this post, it would go on forever, it really would. I didn’t include any of the 18 golf courses (pun initially unintended, then realised, then intended). Scrolling down the list and seeing a course search for just ‘Pig’ was difficult for me because my family were asleep at the time and I struggled to contain my laughter. Imagine going to see your school’s career advisor, your A levels are approaching and you’re not sure what to do at university.
“So, what are your thoughts about the future?”
“Have you thought of university perhaps?”
“Okay, well what do you think you might like to study?”
“I’ve got just the thing!”
Some of the search terms are stupid and misleading, although I made the genuine mistake of opening about 50 tabs of courses and clicking on the wrong one to find out what ‘Pig’ brought up and ended up on this page. Likewise, I was disappointed that ‘Philology’ wasn’t a course that combined the life-lessons from two of television’s greatest fictional fathers, Phil Banks and Phil Dunphy. Just imagine how awesome that would be, people.
But instead, here’s my list of the top 5 stupid degrees that actually exist.
Yes, this actually exists. A degree in ADVENTURE. Now, there’s a couple of degrees that include the word adventure in the title, and some of them have ‘legitimate’ modules regarding leisure management and administration, even though I’m pretty sure those are things you could learn on the job. But this one seems to be all about just adventure, and how to enjoy adventure as much as you can.
Over on the page for this course on Chichester University’s website, the course description reads in much the same way as the CV of an 18 year old applying for the job of chief executive of a media organisation, listing the hours they spend watching television and browsing the web as “experience across various media formats” and their babysitting job as “management skills”.
“Maybe you are the type of ‘sensation seeker’ that enjoys the ‘risk’ that is central to adventurous activities”
So why not spend a few grand studying and writing essays on such activities as water-skiing, skydiving, and other fun wastes of time in order to gain an utterly useless and quite frankly laughable degree instead of actually going out and doing said activities? It’s a no-brainer. In fact I think having no brain is one of the entry requirements. I mean, we all know what happens when you haven’t got a degree in adventures and you go – shock, horror – adventuring.
Under “Why this course?” is the gold nugget of information that should seal the deal for anyone still in two minds about this course:
“Two climbing walls on site”
I’ll see you guys at enrolment.
This course no longer seems to be available, so you’ll just have to figure out how to have fun all by yourself…
It turns out that horology is actually, according to Wikipedia, ‘the art or science of measuring time’.
Most things annoy me, we’ve established that, but this is just stupid. It’s clock-making. It is clock-making. Just once more – it’s a degree in clock-making. We clear on that? It just seems like the kind of thing you could learn on the job as a jeweler or something, and on top of that, we all know what clockmakers end up like.
There’s even a museum of clock and such, which I could almost take seriously if it weren’t called Cuckooland.
Don’t get a degree in horology. It’s a waste of time.
3. History of Ideas
Now, as you all know by now, I’m basically ignorant toward everything. One of those things used to be history; I hated history at school because the only thing we ever studied was Henry the fucking 8th. All English children will spend around 80% of their school history lessons studying the Tudors, and 100% of that 80% studying Henry VII. Once I left high school and went to university, history became an established part of my music degree, and I enjoyed what we studied, then when I got my job at the book shop I would discover books about areas of history I knew nothing about. I love being able to pick and choose what I learn as an adult.
So… Goldsmith’s History of Ideas degree then.
“This degree combines a broader study of history in general with a more specific focus on the nature of ideas and their role in history, their impact on the historical process, and their relationship to material and economic conditions, political power-structures, philosophy, art, religion, literature, science, and sexuality.”
Fair enough, I guess. I’ll be honest, though – when a degree course boasts that it covers a whole list of subject areas with as vague a connection as ‘ideas’, I become skeptical. But then I think about how philosophy has shaped society, and then you have to take into consideration that ideas really do shape most industries and facets of life – engineering would be nothing without the ideas of engineers and inventors, our cuisines would be basic and rather boring without the culinary ideas of inventive chefs, and art, literature, music – these would be nothing without creative ideas from artists, writers and composers.
But I feel the need to call you out, Goldsmiths. Why? Because you can’t study the history of ideas legitimately. And why’s that, you ask? BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW EVERY IDEA. There’s no way that even 0.1% of all the ideas in the history of the world have been documented, so what you’d be studying is the ideas that got kicked into action. I bet in your course you don’t cover the following:
- If we got everyone to stand on one side of the world and push, could we move the Earth?
- Maybe Marisa Tomei actually deserved that Oscar?
- Is Kanye West for real?
- If you get someone to stand between two mirrors, have you trapped them forever?
- Would a bouncy castle work on a cloud?
- No seriously, is Kanye West for real?
Exactly. I suggest you change your course title to ‘History of the Boring Ideas that People Weren’t Too Terrified or or Utterly Mind-blown to Follow Through On”. Obviously, grammar isn’t part of my version of the course.
4. Fire Engineering
The keyword that lead me to this course was “Fire”. I believe that even people who claim to be scared of fire are secretly pyromaniacs, they just don’t know it yet. So naturally I clicked on the keyword “Fire” expecting to stumble upon some awesome, secret, criminal corner of UCAS where you could learn skills to help you commit the perfect crime, and to be fair, ‘fire engineering’ seems to imply that the course involves modules on committing arson. But instead, this degree is about fire-fighting.
“But I thought you didn’t need a degree to become a fire-fighter!”
You’re right, you don’t. You just have to become a fire-fighter. Don’t get me wrong, here. I am not in any way diminishing what fire-fighters do – in fact, I guess the point of this one is that such an important and I would imagine difficult and challenging job doesn’t require a degree.
You just need to be brave and have your wits about you, but I suppose for some people it makes more sense to go to university and rack up a debt you’ll likely never pay off for a degree that doesn’t even result in a job as a fire-fighter, just sort of ‘prepares’ you for it should you choose to become one. Seems like a waste of time to me.
5. Agriculture with Dairy Herd Management
I couldn’t find it on the website, and I gave up after 5 minutes because it honestly depressed me – I don’t care how ignorant that sounds, it’s a website for a university that teaches degrees about farms. Don’t judge me, you would do the same. But I think this is probably my favourite one.
You sit down at the computer, log on to UCAS and scroll through the course options, and happen to see the word ‘Dairy’. You try desperately not to get your hopes up too high even though you’re pretty sure that, yes, this is the dream. Your two favourite foods are chocolate and cheese, and what would they be without dairy? That’s right. They’d be vegan foods, and vegan foods are the devil. You can’t help it, you get excited and click ‘Dairy’, picturing the next three years of swimming in milk, eating endless amounts of cheese and chocolate, and analysing the deliciousness of whipped cream in a laboratory and only become slightly aroused.
Then you discover that they’re talking about looking after actual cows.
The dream has died, people…the dream has died.