In our mini-series on how and why you should be researching higher education in year 12, we’ve looked at what you might want to consider when choosing a degree course and when thinking about where you want to study. Today, we’re going to explore how you go about doing that research.

Where do I look?

Where you start looking depends on to what extent you know what you want to study and/or where you might want to study.

Browse by Subject &/or Location

The UCAS website is a great place to start because there is an option to browse by subject as well as by location. Simply look up and either enter a subject you might want to study, click on a subject area from the broad headings on screen, or select the location tab to refine by region.

Then filter on the left of the main search page to refine your choice based on the suggested courses, location and/or specific provider depending on your preferences. The more you filter, the shorter the list will become.


By way of an example, if you choose ‘Performing Arts’ from the broad subject areas listed on the first screen, you will land on the main search page listing a daunting 561 courses from 123 providers. However, careful use of the filters on the left – south west location, full-time course and foundation degree – could quickly narrow this down to 5 courses from 4 providers. And from this very manageable list you might choose to explore the Foundation degrees in Contemporary Circus & Physical Theatre and/or Performing Arts at Bath Spa University.

How to compare courses

Still on the same page, you could then compare these two courses. Right click on each to open them in separate tabs. Immediately you’ll see that Performing Arts (PA) is actually delivered at University Centre Weston – UCW, whilst Contemporary Circus & Physical Theatre (CC&PT) is delivered at Circomedia in Bristol.

Scroll further and you will see entry requirements include CDD at A-Level for PA whereas CC&PT requires DDD at A-Level. If studying BTEC(s), PA requires Performing Arts whereas CC&PT expects Dance or Drama or Theatre Studies.

Care: It is important to refer to the University website for full details*.

Both are Foundation Degrees in Arts (FdA), full-time, over 2 years. However, go back to the search screen and filter using the same criteria but add a filter for courses which still have vacancies in September. This time, you will only see CC&PT at Bath Spa as the PA Foundation degree appears to be full*.

So what more can you discover?

To find out more about Bath Spa University, click the link in the top right of either of the course pages. And to read more information about the actual degree, click on the specific course link on the right of the screen.

There’s even contact details for the University admissions team who will be able to answer more detailed questions for you.

What else is on offer?

To discover other courses which you may not previously have considered, go back to the search page and add and subtract the filters until you start to discover exactly the sort of subjects and specialisms that you might be interested in.

There’s even an opportunity to add these to your own online shortlist by selecting the heart symbol adjacent to the course listing, but you will need to register with UCAS and sign in for this to work.

And in addition to the wealth of information on the UCAS search results page, there are many comparison websites which can provide even more information to help with your research, such as student reviews and satisfaction ratings, graduate employment and salaries.

Examples include Unistats, The Complete University Guide, Compare the Uni, University Compare, The Student Room and Which Uni? There are also really helpful guides in the national press; notably The Guardian and Times newspapers.

And finally, …

Each college and university website should list their available subjects, open days, taster courses, contact details, any possible bursaries and scholarships, as well as the application process. Remember to also check for any admissions criteria as this will be worth researching carefully before making any decisions.

Always try to visit in person before applying – even if you have to call and ask to arrange a self-guided tour. And remember to first seek permission if taking time out of school to attend. If you missed the main open days recently, there will be more in the Autumn before you complete your application and we’ll help you to get the most from attending nearer the time.

* Information accurate at the time of going to press, but you are always advised to please check the latest details direct before applying or visiting.

Careersnearhere: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started!

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