As the job landscape changes, more universities are offering niche courses allowing students to learn specialised skills and earn future-proof job qualifications. Others are offering pop culture-focused courses, where students can have fun learning about their interests at a university level – from analysing Taylor Swift lyrics to deep-diving into the literary themes of Harry Potter.
Which of these exciting study options is attracting the most interest? We looked at some of the most unusual uni courses out there, and analysed the online search volume and Instagram hashtags relating to these courses to determine their popularity.
Here are the top 10 unusual courses being offered at UK universities right now:
Weird and Wild University Courses Ranked by Popularity
1. BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Psychology
Offered by: University of Chester
About the course: This degree looks at the science behind the behaviour of animals, from mammals to amphibians and even invertebrates. Combined with Biology or Psychology, this course gives you the chance to become a fully-fledged “animal whisperer” – understanding the behaviour of wild animals in the contexts of ecology, conservation and welfare.
Offered by: The University of Edinburgh
About the course: The University of Edinburgh’s Koestler Parapsychology Unit gives students the chance to study the fascinating topics of extrasensory perception (ESP) and psychokinesis (PK). The course looks at the history and implications of parapsychology, beliefs around the paranormal, critical thinking about parapsychology, and how psychic claims may be tested. Perfect for those with an interest in the weirder side of life.
Check it out (Note: This course is temporarily paused as of July 2023)
3. Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion
Offered by: Durham University
About the course: Get a taste of Hogwarts life by delving into the world of Harry Potter in this uni course. Students will examine the wildly popular Harry Potter phenomenon and learn about placing it in a social, cultural and educational context. Topics include “Gryffindor and Slytherin: prejudice and intolerance in the classroom”, “Myths and models: the power of educational examples”, and “Ideals of manhood: courage, ingenuity and integrity”.
4. BSc (Hons) Tournament Golf
Offered by: Cornwall College
About the course: This is for golfers who are ready to take their game to the next level, learning to compete at a tournament level. The three-year course focuses on preparing golf-loving students physically, mentally, technically and tactically for a career in the golfing world. Some students go on to compete in tournaments, while others secure job placements at golfing resorts.
5. Stand-Up Comedy
Offered by: University of Kent
About the course: If you think you might be the next Trevor Noah, this could be your calling. The course teaches students how to write original stand-up material that will have the crowds roaring with laughter. Topics include the history and traditions of stand-up, comic theory and analysis of comedians’ performances. Once the theory is covered, students move on to practical performances, developing their comic personas as they learn to improvise and interact with an audience.
6. Taylor Swift and Literature
Offered by: Queen Mary University of London
About the course: This is a Swiftie’s dream come true, but it will also fascinate lovers of language and literature. The course examines the formal elements in Ms Swift’s work, analyses her songs and discusses the ways her work relates to literary history and contemporary popular culture. This is one learning opportunity you won’t want to “shake off”!
7. BSc (Hons) Ethical Hacking
Offered by: Abertay University
About the course: Ethical hackers and cybersecurity specialists are in high demand – students can start on the path to a future-proof career with this hands-on course. Combining computer networking with digital forensics and programming, the curriculum focuses on combatting illegal hacks and cyber-attacks. This is one of the top cybersecurity courses in Europe, and the first ethical hacking degree available worldwide!
8. FdSc Surf Science
Offered by: Cornwall College
About the course: Not just for beach bums – this is serious stuff! The Surf Science degree covers much more than surf culture. Students will also learn about anatomy and biomechanics, coastal processes and wave mechanics, surfboard design, coaching and performance psychology, photography and videography, event management, and sustainability. The course is taught by expert lecturers from within the surf industry, in a location known as the home of UK surf culture. Practical surfing isn’t part of the course, but there are plenty of opportunities to surf in the area, and the annual Basque Country field trip will take you to the breaks of Northern Spain and Southern France.
9. MSc Brewing and Distilling
Offered by: Heriot-Watt University
About the course: Curious about the craft beer industry? Those looking to work in malting, brewing and/or distilling can study the science and chemical engineering that goes into making the perfect brew. Students will also learn business studies and production management, to prepare for the working world.
10. BA (Hons) Horology
Offered by: Birmingham City University
About the course: Students will discover the evolution of the design of clocks and watches, and learn the specialist skills needed to create and repair them. A great course for those looking to focus their technical and creative talents on creating timepieces.
Whether you’re studying to further your career opportunities or to focus on a personal interest, one of these university courses could be the perfect choice.