- A summary of the course structure options available to undergraduates –


Applying to university is an exciting time but with a raft of types of undergraduate courses on offer it can be confusing knowing which option will best suit you. Planning ahead – and thinking beyond the end of your degree – is important in order to select the style of course that will fit your lifestyle, your ambitions and your day-to-day commitments.

Should I Choose a Long or a Short Course?

One of the first decisions to be made is whether you wish to embark on a long or a short course.

Most undergraduate students opt for traditional university courses of three to four years in length although some professional courses can last for as long as six years. Long courses tend to feature a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials comprised of different modules, some of which may be compulsory. An element of choice is usual so that you can tailor the content of your course to your own interests and skills. This is especially important in order to prepare you for your third-year dissertation which is an extended, independent piece of research.

Three or four year degree courses are the ideal length to enable you to not only develop essential practical or theoretical skills but to gain an in-depth knowledge of your chosen subject as a whole. These courses are also long enough for you to combine more than one discipline if you desire in a joint honours degree such as English and philosophy, whereby you can develop your expertise in more than one subject area.

Four year courses often include an element of work experience or study in another country; these courses are common for undergraduates studying a foreign language or for professional courses such as teaching.

Short courses are typically one or two years in length and are on a par with the standards of long courses, although they do not award a full degree. However, a qualification is often on offer such as a Certificate of High Education (after one year), or a Diploma of Higher Education or HND (after two years). Therefore, short courses can be a great option for a student looking to reinforce his CV with a qualification prior to commencing work and, for this reason, short courses are also popular with mature students who have not had the opportunity to gain a degree but wish to advance their academic status after a period of employment.

Short courses can also be converted to a full first degree if the student prefers.

Should I Study Full-time or Part-time?

Various options exist in terms of how you can organise your study and among the main considerations should be how quickly you intend to complete your degree course and what you wish to do once the certificate is in your hand.

To complete your degree in the quickest possible time, such as in three years, you should study full-time. This may leave little room for working to bolster your income if you are to do your studies justice, so you should be aware that your employment options may be limited to a few hours per week. However, it’s a quick route to graduation and subsequently full-time employment or postgraduate study.

Part-time degrees offer greater flexibility in lifestyle that may suit your personal circumstances but you should bear in mind that it will, consequently, take you longer to complete your course. Part-time studying is ideal for mature students who have family responsibilities or students of any age who wish to combine their career with a degree. Often the seminars or tutorials tend to take place in evenings and at weekends to fit in with other commitments, although online learning is increasingly becoming a realistic and practical option for part-time learners.

Note that funding for part-time studies is different from the full-time option so it is well-worth investigating this before you apply to ensure that you are clear about how you will pay for your degree.

Sandwich Courses

Obtaining post-graduate employment is a key concern for most undergraduates and it is certain that relevant work experience is a realistic way to improve your employment prospects.  A sandwich course offers a combination of academic study and work experience with typically one of the four years being dedicated to the latter.

A sandwich course is ideal for preparing you for postgraduate working life and this option is popular with many employers who gain a recruit who has more than academic experience to offer. You may receive payment for the work and a reduction in your tuition fees.

However, sandwich courses – which tend to be dominated by science and engineering sectors – are not offered routinely, so arranging the work experience is often the responsibility of the student which can be stressful and time-consuming.

Planning Ahead

When selecting your undergraduate study path, really take the time to consider your options carefully and you will have more confidence that you have made the right decision for your future. If you’re considering a move to the English capital, many of the universities in London offer the full range of undergraduate course options, which means you won’t be limited in your decision making.


This article comes from students at Brunel University, one of London’s top collegiate institutions.


5 Organization Tips For College Students

by Morgan Bissett-Tessier on September 3, 2013

Happy female teen student portraitStaying organized is simultaneously one of the most important and most difficult tasks for a college student. Of course, there are plenty of students out there who are naturally organized, and have no trouble keeping things in order throughout a college career. However, for many students, the constant activity and distractions of college – and even the high level of academic activity – can make it very tough to stay on top of everything in an orderly fashion. So with that in mind, here are 5 tips that can help college students stay better organized.

1. Record Lectures

You may not be the type who likes to go back over lectures, and you may well never use your recordings. But any college student will tell you, there are times when a certain detail, or a 5-minute section of a lecture, simply goes unrecorded. Tracking down notes from a friend, emailing your professor, etc. can be a real pain, but if you have a recording handy you can simply listen to the lecture again and make sure you have all the material. These days, you can record a lecture through your smartphone or on an app like Evernote, so it’s a painless precaution.

2. Use An E-Reader

A lot of people are resistant to switch to e-readers, and you certainly don’t have to for your pleasure reading – but for school textbooks, there’s nothing more convenient. Your Nook or Kindle can keep all of your books in one location, and allow you to easily take notes, highlight sections of text, and even look up words at the touch of a button.

3. Use A Cloud Network

There are a number of different cloud networks available to students, and their benefits for organization are tough to overstate. Consider Sharefile, a more involved, but more capable cloud and file transfer service that allows you all of the data storage benefits you could ask for. The ability to store and manage data online allows you the flexibility to work from any device, anywhere on campus, and keep your work safely saved online.

4. Use A Digital Calendar

Many students are reluctant to start this step, but it’s best to get in the habit early. Whether you use a calendar in place on your mobile phone, take advantage of Google Calendar applications, etc., you’ll never regret having all of your events and assignments noted in one place. Apps like Cal and any.do can also be very helpful for organizing events and assignments.

5. Find A Study Spot

Finally, designate a study spot or two. This may sound obvious or unnecessary, but if you try to simply study wherever it’s convenient on a given night you’re more likely to be distracted and disorganized. Whether it’s a nook in the library, your own dorm room, a quiet common room, etc., pick a spot that you can rely on to allow you to get work done!


Use these five tips to maximize your chances of success in college and beyond.  The more organized and structured you are with your time and activities, the better you’ll perform and the more productive you’ll be.


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The Method of Loci

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