Weird and wonderful university courses, 8 you didn’t even know existed

Pokémon, ethical hacking, Viking studies - those who haven't yet picked their course for next year are spoiled for choice 

Josh Peachey
Wednesday 16 December 2015 20:47 GMT
Choose to specialise in Pokémon fan culture in the US
Choose to specialise in Pokémon fan culture in the US (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Following on from Manchester Metropolitan’s new pizza course, supported by Pizza Hut, you might be wondering whether it’s too late to change degrees. If you’re paying thousands of pounds a year to go to university then surely you should at least enjoy it. There are hundreds of courses to choose from, but you probably haven’t considered these weird and wonderful ones:

1) Ethical hacking
Abertay University, Dundee

Whether the work of the infamous group Anonymous is ethical or not is questionable but, if you like the idea of ‘good’ hacking, this could be a good place to start. As we live in an ever-developing technological age, there’s a demand for good hackers to find the security holes before the bad guys do - and this course is all about how illegal computer attacks can be performed and how they can be stopped. The idea is you arrive a student, learn the how to and why - and come out an ethical hacker.

2) Pokémon
DeCal at the University of California, Berkeley, US

Over in the US, there is a DeCal programme at Berkeley where students come up with their own ideas for courses and run them. Although they don’t count for credits, there are some pretty interesting courses available. The Pokémon course examines general Pokémon media, discusses the social implications of the “Pokéverse,” examines fan culture and meta-gaming, and even delves into the theoretical science behind Pokémon. With Pokémon centres opening in Japan, who knows what’s next?

3) Beer studies
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

As if student life wasn’t boozy enough, you can now study the wonders of creating the perfect pint. All jokes aside, the Brewing and Distilling course at Heriot-Watt University is the exact science-based undergraduate and postgraduate degree course designed for those who work or wish to work in the brewing and distilling industries. The course has been running for over 100 years, and has obligatory biochemistry modules. Unsurprisingly, it’s very competitive.

4) Gothic studies
St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London

A spooky one, but not just for those who love all things black. This MA in Gothic: Culture, Subculture, Counterculture course covers everything gothic, including, art, architecture, film, and writing from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe. The ‘contemporary gothic’ module is usually supported by a series of screenings in the atmospheric Old House so, if you are terrified by scary films, probably best to avoid this one.

5) Sexual Health Studies
University of Central Lancashire, Preston

Maybe your favourite secondary school lesson happened to be sex ed and you were the master of putting a condom on a weird plastic ‘thing’. It even complements itself for being the UK’s “first ever non-clinical undergraduate specialised degree programme available on Ucas.”

Including teaching on contraception, unplanned pregnancy, sexual health, screening for STIs, blood borne viruses, sexual health policy, safeguarding, and sex and relationships education, this course - among other things - is guaranteed to make entertaining conversation when making first impressions.

6) Viking studies
University College London

At UCL, you can learn all about the Viking Age through study of the medieval and modern Scandinavian languages, Old Norse literature, and medieval history. The third year is spent abroad at a university in either Denmark, Iceland, Norway, or Sweden where students learn Scandinavian and embrace their inner Viking. Horned helmets and drinking kegs of beer not included.

7) Video gaming
University of Victoria, Canada

Who said you shouldn’t mix work with play? Gamers of the world: you can actually study video games. The History of Video Games and Interactive Media course at the University of Victoria explores the intersection of technology, society, the creative arts, and culture through the study of the history of video games and interactive media. Pupils on the course take part in a combination of lectures, discussions, and ‘active learning’ - which basically means you’d be playing games.

8) Comic Art
Minneapolis College of Art and Design, US

With the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe media franchise rising uncontrollably, maybe we should take a moment to consider its origins - comic books. If you’re a big fan and want to learn all about how to draw comic-style and what makes a good plot, then it might be worthwhile crossing the pond to do the Comic Art major in Minnesota. Just be sure to pack your winter woolies.

Twitter: @joshpeachey

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