And now for something completely different...

Fancy studying something out of the ordinary? Tim Walker compiles an A-Z of the more wild and wacky courses on offer this year

If a gap year full of big air and white water gives you a taste for adrenaline, perhaps you'll be tempted by a degree in adventure sport management at Sheffield Hallam University, or outdoor learning and the [mildly oxymoronic] science of adventure at the University of Glamorgan.

BAKING

Have you ever wondered how they get the jam into doughnuts? Perhaps the HND in baking technology at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff will provide the answer. If you're more concerned about opening milk cartons without spilling the stuff all over the kitchen floor, then why not come up with a better idea on the food product design degree at the University of Abertay, Dundee. Prospective restaurateurs who wish to avoid the attentions of Gordon Ramsay could do worse than hotel and restaurant management from Oxford Brookes University, which, appropriately enough, is a sandwich degree.

COUNTRYSIDE

If you prefer the great outdoors to the soft hum of air conditioning, there are courses to suit you at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise at its three campuses in Northern Ireland. There are countryside management degrees at the Universities of Newcastle and Derby. Budding Charlie Dimmocks may bloom on Bournemouth University's landscape, garden design and management degree; or landscape architecture at Edinburgh College of Art or the University of Greenwich.

DEVIANCE

From Cracker to CSI, television has bred a generation of young people fascinated by the criminal mind - and now there are the degrees to match: crime, deviance and society at Staffordshire University; crime studies at Manchester Met; or criminology and forensic science at Northumbria University.

EXPLORATION

Do you want to split the infinitive? To boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before? Your first small step (before any giant leaping gets done) could be ocean exploration at the University of Plymouth, or space technology and planetary exploration at the University of Surrey.

FOOTBALL

Football managers all seem to be intellectuals nowadays, so a degree in football is no longer a comedic conceit. There's international football management at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, science and football at Liverpool John Moores University and football studies at University of Luton to choose from. If you prefer to ruin a perfectly good walk with a round of golf, why not consider applied golf management studies at the University of Birmingham? Wales, of course, has a degree in rugby to offer - science and rugby, no less - at the University of Glamorgan.

GAMBLING

Education is all about self-improvement. At least, that's what you can tell your folks if you decide on business economics with gambling studies at the University of Salford. For online poker-heads, electronic gaming systems at the University of Hull sounds, dare I say it, like a safe bet.

HERITAGE

Do castles capture your imagination? Or stately homes stir your blood? The heritage industry wants you. Try history and heritage studies at Nottingham Trent University, heritage management at the University of Wales, Bangor, or history, museums and heritage at the University of Central Lancashire.

IDEAS

Enthusiastic chin-strokers can think deeply about the history of ideas at Goldsmiths, Cardiff or Kingston.

JEWELLERY

If you have a steady hand and an eye for a gem, there are degree courses for jewellery design and metalwork at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College and Sheffield Hallam University. If you think jewellery is for wimps, why not forge ahead with artist blacksmithing at Herefordshire College of Art and Design.

KNITTING

Fashion knitwear design and knitted textiles at Nottingham Trent isn't just for grannies.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION

There are film studies courses at many universities now, but only a few degrees that involve film production. Cinema studies and scriptwriting at the University of Wales, Newport, is one, and there are various courses in film and cinema technologies at the new University of Winchester.

MODELLING

The Wallace and Gromit kind, not the Kate Moss kind. Model design and special effects at the University of Hertfordshire; modelmaking at Kent Institute of Art and Design; or animation and design at the University of Sunderland.

NEWS

From Woodward and Bernstein to Heat magazine, journalism is a hugely varied industry, needing writers, photographers, designers and many more. The University of Wolverhampton has a degree in journalism and editorial design, while snappers can develop on the photojournalism course at Swansea Institute of higher education or the foundation degree at the University of the Arts, London.

OVERSEAS

Wearing a white wristband is one thing, but more and more young people are getting personally involved in development. Competition for jobs is strong, so a specialist degree can be very useful. There's development studies with overseas experience at the University of East Anglia; or Third World and development studies at Middlesex University, among others.

PEACE

Peace is a precious commodity nowadays, and experts could very well find themselves in demand. Doves may like the sound of peace studies or conflict resolution at the University of Bradford, peace studies and international relations at Lancaster University, or peace and conflict studies at London Metropolitan University. Hawks, on the other hand, may prefer the thunderous roar of war studies at the University of Kent.

QUAFFABILITY

Have you ever mistaken Blue Nun for Brut? Then the University of Brighton's degree in viticulture and oenology is definitely not for you, and nor are their two-year foundation degrees in wine business and wine production. But if you're more of a beer drinker instead (and what committed student isn't?), there's always brewing and distilling at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

ROBOTS

Make new friends (literally, make them) on an artificial intelligence and robotics degree at the University of Luton or artificial intelligence at Manchester Met. If that's not advanced enough, then you can let your imagination run wild on science and science fiction at the University of Glamorgan.

SUSTAINABILITY

Sustainability is the buzzword of the moment for everyone from architects to oil barons. Jump on the bandwagon with sustainable development at the University of Aberdeen, sustainable tourism development at Anglia Polytechnic University, or sustainable product design at Aston University. Or clean up after the rest of us with a degree in environmental pollution from the University of Leeds, or waste management and pollution control from University College, Northampton.

TREES

There are forestry courses at the University of Central Lancashire, University of Aberdeen, and University of Wales, Bangor. But, of course, the real tree-huggers are going to be playing folk and traditional music at the University of Newcastle.

URDU

...And countless other world languages are on offer at universities across the UK. Adventurous linguists may feel like wrapping their tongues around the Urdu courses at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), that also has courses in Swahili, Arabic, Vietnamese, Sanskrit and more. UCL, meanwhile, offer some unexpected European languages, like Ukrainian, Romanian and Icelandic.

VIKINGS

History's most notorious rapists, looters and pillagers are subjected to the glare of the academic spotlight at the University of Nottingham and UCL, which both offer degrees in Viking studies.

WET 'N' WILD

If sun, sand and surf are your thing, what are you still doing in Britain? Southampton Institute and Swansea Institute of Higher Education both offer watersports management courses if you can stand the cold. And for wave chasers, there's the much-mocked surf science and technology degree at the University of Plymouth, or the two-year foundation degree at Cornwall College.

X-FACTOR

Attend the real School(s) of Rock, otherwise known as the popular music performance courses at the University of Huddersfield, University of Leeds, Thames Valley University and many more.

YOUTH

Are you down with the kids? Find out on youth studies at Nottingham Trent. Are you down with the ASBO kids? Find out on youth studies with criminology at the University of Teesside. Do you want to teach Sunday school? Find out on youth studies and applied theology at Oxford Brookes.

ZOOLOGY

The only decent Z word in the UCAS dictionary yields a few interesting variations, like animal behaviour/wildlife biology at Anglia Polytechnic University, wildlife conservation with zoo biology at the University of Salford, or animal behaviour science at the University of Lincoln.

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