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via The Times : There are more than 50,000 undergraduate courses available in the UK, a daunting number when you are trying to narrow it down to five choices. While getting to your dream university may shape your decision, finding the right course is just as important. It will be a long three years if you sacrifice content for location.

Entry requirements are a crucial factor in selecting the right option — check which A-level subjects and grades are needed. Be ambitious, but realistic. With so many courses on offer, however, there is almost certainly a good choice for everyone.

The first place to start is the university prospectus and faculty pages on the website. The syllabus, options, structure and the strength of the faculty can be hugely important factors in narrowing down applications — just as important as the type of university that students want to go to.

The faculty in charge of your subject is as important as the university as a whole. Every institution has strengths and weaknesses, so do your research.

All universities have a list of faculty members on their website. Their areas of expertise and published research will be listed. However, be realistic about how much you might actually get to see of an internationally acclaimed academic. The more illustrious, the more they will be in demand elsewhere, and more likely to be taking sabbaticals or writing a book at the time you study their course. Despite this, it still means something to have a big name on board, not least because they attract talented junior colleagues and PhD students.

Take a close look at all the modules that are covered in each course and see which university is offering the ones you identify as the most interesting. It could be your once-in-a-lifetime chance to study a topic that has always appealed at a centre of excellence.

It may also be worth looking at how the course is structured in terms of number of lectures and seminars, or other forms of teaching. Also relevant is the method of assessment. Is it exams, coursework or presentations, or a combination of all three? You will need to think about which way of learning suits you best.

The subject tables in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018 rank institutions against one another, so are a highly valuable source of comparable data. Universities are ranked in 67 degrees or groups of similar courses. The tables rate universities on a host of measures, including teaching quality, research quality, entry standards and prospects after graduation.

Cambridge dominates the subject tables. Its excellence extends from French to geography to chemistry, computer science and maths. Altogether it is judged best in 30 out of the 67 subjects. Oxford heads five of the subject tables, followed by Edinburgh, Glasgow, Loughborough, St Andrews and Strathclyde with three apiece.

It is worth looking below the big names for pockets of excellence. Newcastle is ranked seventh for English, Lancaster second for drama, Dundee eighth for maths and Swansea fifth for medicine.

Strathclyde has drawn level with the London School of Economics to top the social policy table, Queen’s University Belfast is fifth in pharmacology and Leeds sixth in linguistics.


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