'Best and Worse' University Courses

Thursday, March 6, 2014 12:00 AM

Christine Buccella, Director of bestCourse4me, has used the data on the site to come up with the best and worst university courses for entry requirements, graduate salaries and unemployment rates.

The latest UCAS application round shows that more students than ever are applying to university. Conventional wisdom says that a university degree gives graduates a leg up in the jobs market and that uni graduates can expect to make tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds more than non-graduates over their lifetime.

But is every degree worth the investment? Using data shown on bestCourse4me.com, the website that shows the link between what you study, what you earn and the jobs you can get, we’ve discovered the best and worst uni courses for entry requirements, graduate salaries and employment prospects.


If you are looking for a university degree that will guarantee you a job when you graduate, then your best bet is medicine or pharmacology. Many of those courses lead to 100% employment rates within six months of graduating.

However, at the other end of the spectrum, some courses have very high unemployment rates. The worst one is Computer Science from Birmingham City University, which leads to 40% of its graduates still being unemployed six months after graduating. Two other Computer Science degrees also lead to top unemployment rates – Teesside University with 33% and University of Salford with 31%.

Two courses at the University of East London aren’t faring well either. Their ‘Law by Area’ course has an unemployment rate of 37.5% and their Accounting degree leads to 33% of its students being unemployed.

The courses that round out the top ten for unemployment are ‘Others in Technology’ at the University of Bolton (32%), Management Studies at Greenwich (31.6%), Cinematics and Photography at Wolverhampton (30.6%), Biology at Westminster (30.4%) and Sociology at South Bank University (30.2%).

If getting a job is your main priority when you graduate from university, then you might want to avoid these universities, which have the greatest number of courses leading to low employment rates (other than some creative arts based universities). They are Birmingham City University, Sheffield Hallam University, University of East London, University of Greenwich and University College Birmingham.


If you are interested in making a high salary when you graduate, then medicine and dentistry courses are the way to go. 26 out of the top 32 courses that led to the highest starting salaries were in medicine or dentistry. Economics (at the right university) is also a good bet for a high salary – Economics graduates from Cambridge, University College London, London School of Economics, Warwick, Durham and Bath all start their careers on average salaries of £595 to £794 per week, or £31k-£41k per year.

Now compare that to courses at the other end of the spectrum. The course with the worse salary outcome is Sport & exercise science at the University of Gloucester at £14,600 per year. Other courses resulting in very low salaries are Sport & exercise science at University College Marjon Plymouth, Combined Honours at Nottingham Trent, Psychology at Bangor, Drama at Bath Spa, Opthalmics at both Bradford and Aston Universities, and Academic studies in Education at both Sheffield Hallam and Plymouth Universities.  These courses lead to average graduate salaries of just £14,700 and £15,200.

Entrance qualifications

There are more university places available than ever before and although more students are applying, some people say that the pressure to fill places is causing universities to drop their entry requirements. It’s not surprising that the top universities require a handful of top qualifications to be considered, but what about the universities at the other end of the scale?

The most competitive course in the country is Law at Oxford. For that, you need 607 UCAS points, Compare that to the easiest course to get onto, ‘Others in Law’ at Southampton University, whose students had and average of 88 UCAS points (which equals less than one A level) and their ‘Others in Historical and Philosophical studies’ has the same average entry qualifications as their ‘Others in Law’ course.

Some other courses that you can get onto with less than 100 UCAS points include Publicity Studies at University of East London, Ocean Sciences at Salford, ‘Others in Social Studies’ at Wolverhampton, Social Policy at Manchester Met and Research and Study Skills in Education at London South Bank.

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