What courses? Business and management is a massive umbrella term covering a wide range of degrees, including those in: business studies; management studies; business & management; business management; entrepreneurship; enterprise; business IT; international business; human resources; administration. Joint honours combinations are seemingly limitless. Some degrees specialise in the management of particular industries, such as hospitality, leisure and sports.
What do you come out with? Most likely a BA or BSc, depending on university and course title. If studied alongside an engineering subject, you could get a MEng, or a LLB if joint with a law course.
Why do it? "Because it’s about being creative, with real people and real money. Whether you become an entrepreneur who turns an idea into a new product or service, or the CEO of a major company that’s shaping the market, you will be solving problems and showing leadership. If you’ve ever wondered how all that stuff gets into the shops, who designs it, who makes it, who gets it there when customers need it, be it cars, clothes, cabbages or cat-food, this is the degree that will answer those questions." - Janet Smart, director of undergraduate programmes, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.
What’s it all about? Learning all you need to know to become a manager and surviving in the tough world of business. Depending on the title of your specific degree, you’re likely to touch on economics, accounting and finance, industrial relations, marketing and information systems. Some courses focus specifically on one area of business, such as E-commerce or human resources, while others are broader in their scope. Most universities offer some kind of business studies course now, showing that students are increasingly keen to get ahead of the game and land themselves a decent graduate job.
Study options: Most courses involve three years full-time study, although some last for four years, including those at Abertay, Dundee. Aberdeen and St Andrews also offer four-year MAs that can be studied straight from school. If studying international business, or a joint honours with a language, expect to spend a year abroad. More and more universities are offering business degrees with a sandwich year, in which students complete an industrial placement to put their knowledge into practice. Though assessment and teaching methods vary, you’re likely to be taking exams and submitting coursework in the form of essays and reports, and learning through a combination of lectures, seminars and small group work.
What will I need to do it? Business courses are generally quite flexible when it comes to A-level subjects, with Warwick encouraging a mixture of sciences and arts. If you’re looking at a course with a heavy finance content, then a maths A-level probably wouldn’t go a miss. With nearly every university offering some kind of business or management degree, reputation dictates grade requirements. Oxford’s economics and management BA asks for three As at A-level (including maths), plus the successful completion of a thinking skills assessment test and then you have to make it through an interview. London Metropolitan, on the other hand, only requires three Cs at A-level for its BA in business management.
What are my job prospects? With a myriad of positions being created within the modern business landscape, you would have thought business graduates would always be sought after. However, according to The Times' Good University Guide 2012, despite just under half of graduates walking straight into graduate-level jobs, 11 per cent are unemployed 6 months after graduation. While those specializing in a particular area, such as marketing or finance, are likely to chase jobs in related positions, many former business students go for graduate traineeships at blue-chip companies and begin their climb of the career ladder from there. For those who do land themselves jobs, graduate salaries are good, averaging approximately £21,000. After notching up a few years experience, graduates may decide to return to study to become a master of business administration (MBA) in order to increase their employability further.
Where’s best to do it? Oxford and Cambridge topped the list in the most recent Complete University Guide. Imperial, Warwick, Bath, LSE and Lancaster all rated highly, too. Students at Buckingham, Loughborough and Newport said they were most satisfied with their course.