Follow the course of your nature, sixth-formers are advised

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The Independent Online
PLYMOUTH UNIVERSITY is the first to have lifted the lid on what academics really want to see in students applying to their degree courses, writes Ben Russell. The new tables, due to be extended to every university course in the land, show sixth-formers for the first time what sort of person will suit each degree - not just the grades they need to get in.


BA Design: Typography

A camera round your neck, sketchbook in your pocket and a rolled up copy of Wallpaper* in your hand, "you will almost certainly have already developed the habit of taking and making visual notes on a day-to-day basis and using these ideas to explore, experiment and take risks," say Plymouth. You don't need to know what a serif is (but you will by the end). You need to be able to work as a team, and will be "used to discussing work ideas and issues with your friends".


BSc Sports Management

That string of wins against your rival school down the road, those hours honing tactics for the first XI may not be in vain. Plymouth wants to know about your successes on the field. But watch out. Sport is a serious business, and the tutors need "applicants who are articulate with a good standard of spoken English". Self-reliance and teamwork are good too. Off the field, you'll learn about computers and how to produce professional reports.


BA English with Cultural Practice

Spent the summer dipping into the works of Milton, drafting a little poetry on the lawn, while mentally deconstructing Brookside? This unique degree might be for you. "You will have a natural curiosity, an interest in the cultural industries" and jump at the chance to "communicate your ideas both critically as essays and creatively in the form of poetry, short stories and plays".

But technophobes beware, you will be taught to handle photography, film, video, digital media and sound.


BSc Sociology

All that time spent at parties, mopping up the Saturday night breakups and wondering why Sally won't talk to Sarah was not all wasted, whatever your mum might have said. Concern about the environment and worries about the state of the world are not just teenage angst. Plymouth is looking for "an interest in people and what makes them tick, an interest in history and why different societies have changed over time, and concern with our own society and our own time: racism, sexism, designer labelism and Ronald McDonald in every high street". But watch it, would-be students are advised: "Yes, it is possible (just) to drift through the three years uninterested in the course of subject, but why? Be interested, get involved and get a good degree."


BEng Civil Engineering

Do you gaze in awe at Britain's great railway stations, and wonder as mighty locomotives thunder over huge bridges and viaducts, dreaming of the days when Britain ruled the waves and Brunel changed the landscape forever? Plymouth asks: "Are you a methodical person or are you someone who has spontaneous ideas and is good at thinking laterally?" You need to be a bit of both. Die-hard loners beware, the course teaches how to manage people.