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Understanding university websites

University websites and their undergraduate course pages may look different when comparing side by side, but the information they relay is similar and will definitely cover course content, information about the teaching style and entry requirements for each of their undergraduate degree courses.

It’s important to be aware that degree courses vary significantly between universities - even when the degree title is the same! So make sure your child pays close attention to understanding the differences in course modules, assessment methods, teaching styles and entry requirements between universities.

These differences could be deciding factors in which course (and university) is your child’s preferred option. For example, if there are two universities of similar rankings and style that they like almost equally, where one offers a course with a teaching style better suited to their personal learning preferences, or course content more closely matching their areas of interest, this would be a significant contributor to their final decision.

Course content

Degree courses vary between universities and each degree may provide a very different experience for your child. Thoroughly research the modules that each degree provides by comparing core modules (mandatory modules of study) and optional modules between each university degree.

Furthermore, some universities may provide additional options, such as a the possibility or studying abroad (usually in a partner university) or a year long work placement. These may be important considerations in giving your child a particular advantage when entering their chosen career.

Things to consider:

  • What are the core modules that must be studied in years 1, 2 and 3?

  • Which optional modules are on offer?

  • Is there an option to study abroad?

  • Is there an option to spend one year in industry?

  • Is there an option to combine this subject with another subject?

Teaching and learning

Not all students learn in the same way so it is important to research how each degree is delivered and assessed. If your child is particularly anxious when it comes to examinations, then choosing a degree which is mainly assessed through coursework or presentations may increase your child’s chances of success.

Moreover, think carefully about your child’s learning needs. Will they thrive in small classroom based environments (seminars), lectures or more practical learning environments?

Things to consider:

  • Does teaching mainly consist of large lectures or seminars?

  • Is the course largely exam based or coursework based?

  • What are the facilities like?

  • Is a dissertation in year 3 required?

  • For practical subjects such as Media Studies, how much of the course is theoretical and how much is practical?

Entry requirements

Each university sets its own entry requirements so make sure your child is accessing courses based on their ability and potential. Entry requirements provide a good indication of the difficulty of each degree course and so it is important to be realistic in what your child can access when moving into higher education.

Remember, your child can only apply to a maximum of five universities through UCAS, so carefully note all the entry requirements for each undergraduate degree before applying to check whether your child is likely to meet these.

Things to consider:

  • What are the minimum entry requirements?

  • Does the course require a grade in a particular subject?

  • Will the course accept BTECs or alternative qualifications to A Level?

  • Do they require a minimum Level of Maths or English?

  • Does the course require a portfolio or an interview prior to making an offer?

Is your child planning on going to university this year?

For more information on the university application process and how you can help them choose the right university, check out The Parents’ Guide to University


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