Students do the honours with betting

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The Independent Online
GAMBLING, HERBAL medicine, and perfumery have been deemed suitable subjects for honours degrees by academics.

They join well-established subjects such as brewing and golf-course management among a host of unusual offerings for applicants who will learn on Thursday whether they have made the grade for a university place.

As the number of degree courses booms - nearly 40,000 this year - students are no longer confined to the traditional routes.

Academics at Salford University are running a B.Sc. (Hons) in "business economics with gambling studies" at their centre for the study of gambling and commercial gaming. The degree is not, of course, about learning how to win the pools or how to break the bank at Monte Carlo. Instead, it aims to prepare people for careers in the management of gambling institutions, as well as providing a grounding in economics.

Professor Neville Topham said there had been a sea-change in attitudes to gambling since the National Lottery began: it had become much more socially acceptable.

"The gambling industry requires good management and good graduates," he said. "Universities have a long record of helping in this way. The majority of the population is now involved in gambling."

The popularity of courses that are more directly linked to jobs than traditional subjects such as history and physics is growing, according to figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service last week.

At the University of Plymouth, students are signing up for a BA in the "business of perfumery", unique in Europe.

Besides basic business studies, there is an examination in "odour language" and "fragrance evaluation". Tony Curtis, director of studies, said: "We teach people how to smell and describe odours, how to produce ingredient materials and how to deal with anything from fashion fragrance, to fabric softener to the proverbial loo block."

Some courses are the result of social trends. The BSc (Hons) in herbal medicine at the University of Central Lancashire, which is new this year, has attracted many applicants.

It prepares people to be herbalists, teaching conventional pharmacology and biology alongside an analysis of herbal remedies. Conventional diagnosis is taught alongside how to spot disorders using herbalist techniques.