What courses? Marketing; advertising; information management; public relations; communications; campaign management; retail management. Joint honours degrees are offered with other business-based courses, as well as unrelated subjects. Some universities offer marketing degrees for specific industries, including leisure, sport and fashion.
What do you come out with? Usually a BA, but a BSc in some cases.
Why do it? “Marketing ranges over a number of different areas (e.g. advertising; retailing; consumer behaviour; business-to-business marketing; services marketing; marketing strategy and management) and draws on a variety of different social science disciplines (e.g. psychology; economics; sociology; anthropology; social psychology) to understand customers and markets. If you are interested in the question: 'Why do people do the things they do (e.g. purchase some goods; reject some products; patronize some retail outlets and refuse to shop in others; enjoy some ads and hate others)?' – then you could be fascinated by marketing as a stimulating university subject and as the entry point to an interesting and rewarding career in a variety of different industries.” - Dr Margaret K Hogg, fulgoni professor of consumer behaviour and marketing at Lancaster University Management School
What's it about? Sales, advertising, management, finance, creative design and market research all come under the marketing umbrella. Depending on the university and course title, your course will be either business studies or, in the case of public relations, media studies-based. It could lead you to advertising and PR agencies, government departments, consultants or internal communications for all manner of businesses. You can expect to cover topics such as economics, accounting, psychology, law and statistics as part of the core course in the first year. More specialised electives are introduced in later years, dealing with subjects such as human resources, decision science, sales operations, advertising research and internet marketing. Birmingham City University offers a degree in marketing, advertising and PR; Brighton University offers business management with marketing; the University of Central Lancashire offers fashion and brand promotion and marketing; you can even do a degree in creative and professional writing/marketing at the University of East London. Marketing is a popular degree among newer universities and there are just under 1,000 courses available for 2012. The older red brick institutions tend not to offer marketing at undergrad level, although Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds are among the exceptions.
Study options: For the most part you’re looking at a three-year full-time degree, although some courses do offer a sandwich year, when you’ll go on an industrial placement. A few offer a year abroad too. Teaching methods are likely to include lectures, tutorials, market research techniques, business games, case study analysis, and market research projects. Of course it varies between universities, but coursework are likely to feature as assessment modes in equal measure.
What will I need to do it? There’s flexibility in what you’ve studied previously, with courses generally not asking for specific A-levels. With almost 1,000 different marketing-related degrees on offer, grade requirements vary vastly, but you’re looking at AAB to ABB for a place on one of the top courses.
What are my job prospects? It depends on whether your course is more business or media-based, with business graduates faring better than those who've studied media and communication. Also, marketing is one of the areas that gets hit during a recession as businesses try to cut costs. PR is especially competitive and you’ll probably have to complete several unpaid internships before landing a proper job, which could be why media and communications came bottom of The Times' Good University Guide 2012's graduate prospects table. Business students do slightly better, and almost half are in graduate-level positions within six months of finishing their course, with an average salary of approximately £21,000. Eventual salaries are potentially very high too, and the opportunities varied within wide spectrum of organisations. But be warned, marketing is very different to cold-calling, and many companies will try to lure in recent marketing graduates to jobs that are essentially entry-level call centre jobs.
Where’s best to do it? The Complete University Guide doesn’t have a separate league table for marketing specifically, but Lancaster is the highest ranking university for business studies that offers an undergrad single honours degree in marketing. Loughborough, where you can study retailing, marketing and management, also ranks highly for business studies.