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Ten of the most unusual degrees in the world

Still undecided about what to study at university? These quirky courses might be the inspiration you need

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    Joy Hunter

    Student content curator
    February 6 2024
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    Deciding on your course is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when preparing for university. If you’re still struggling with your choice or if you’re searching for something a little different, here’s a list of some of the most unusual degrees offered around the world. 

    Whether you’re interested in learning an unusual musical instrument or discovering more about what’s out there beyond the stars, there really is a course for anything. 

    1. Manga studies, Kyoto Seika University, Japan 

    If you’re a manga fan, Kyoto Seika University might be your dream university. The institution established the very first faculty for teaching manga in Japan in 2006 and has since been a global centre for research in the art. 

    Scholars in the faculty also analyse manga’s cultural significance and offer a range of doctorate programmes in the field. 

    2. Folklore studies, University of Hertfordshire, UK 

    If you’ve got an interest in the supernatural or fancy brushing up on your knowledge of ancient witchcraft, this might be the course for you. The master’s in folklore studies at the University of Hertfordshire examines the history behind the many folklore traditions that still exist today, from carving pumpkins to blowing out birthday candles and leaving “love locks” on bridges. 

    3. Tea husbandry and technology, Assam Agricultural University, India 

    You might love a cup of tea in the morning, but did you know you could study degrees in tea? Assam Agricultural University offers undergraduate, master’s and PhD courses in tea husbandry and technology. You’ll learn everything there is to learn about growing the plant, tasting the drink, as well as how the industry works in terms of economics and trade. Who knows, it might just be your cup of tea. 

    4. Astrobiology, Florida Institute of Technology, US 

    If you’ve ever wondered about life on Mars, you might want to apply for a degree in astrobiology at Florida Institute of Technology. Astrobiology combines mathematics, physics, biology and planetary science to seriously explore the possibility of alien life. With former astronauts on the faculty, you know that you’ll be learning from the experts. 

    5. Viticulture and oenology, Cornell University, US 

    Students on the viticulture and oenology course at Cornell University will learn all about the science and practice behind growing grapes and making wines. There’s also a chance to study abroad across the world’s top wine regions and vineyards to further hone your sommelier skills. 

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    6. Music Therapy, Aalborg University, Denmark 

    The MSc in Music Therapy at Aalborg University, Denmark, offers an unusual and specialised exploration of using music as a therapeutic tool to address psychological, emotional, and social needs.  

    This two-year programme combines theoretical foundations with hands-on clinical training, providing students with the skills to assess clients' needs and design tailored music-based interventions. Graduates will leave prepared for careers in various clinical settings, private practice, or community programmes.  

    7. Ethical hacking, Abertay University, UK 

    Computer whizzes might want to check out the ethical hacking programme on offer at the University of Abertay in Dundee, Scotland. This course will show you how hackers break into the world’s most complex security systems, provided you use this knowledge for good. 

    Graduates will find that the knowledge from this course will provide them with the skills to go on and work in the security industry, designing the very systems they have learnt to infiltrate. 

    8. Taylor Swift and Her World, Harvard University, US 

    If you're a Taylor Swift enthusiast, Harvard University's "Taylor Swift and Her World" course is tailor-made for you. Led by instructor Stephanie Burt, this course immerses you in Swift's journey from a 16-year-old country artist to a global musical sensation.  

    Students will look into her diverse musical portfolio, from chart-toppers to hidden gems, emphasising the art of song-writing. They will also explore fan culture, celebrity dynamics, and themes of adolescence, adulthood, and appropriation.  

    With a focus on Swift's literary influences and how they influence her work , this course offers an exploration of the intersection of music, culture, and literature.  

    9. Engineering, BA Option in Theme Park Engineering, California State University, Long Beach, US 

    Anyone who loves thrills and innovation will enjoy this option of theme park engineering in the Engineering BA at California State University, Long Beach.  

    Launched in 1999, this programme prepares students for engineering roles in theme parks and related industries. Drawing from electrical, civil, and mechanical engineering, the curriculum covers electrical power, mechanical systems, and control mechanisms.  

    While not ABET accredited, students are encouraged to pursue a second major in electrical engineering for a well-rounded education. This unique programme offers a blend of creativity and engineering, shaping graduates for exciting careers in the dynamic field of theme park engineering. 

    10. Viking and Medieval Norse Studies, University of Oslo, Norway 

    Immerse yourself in the intriguing world of the Vikings and Icelandic sagas with the University of Oslo's Master's programme in Viking and Medieval Norse Studies.  

    This two-year, 120-credit programme offers a unique opportunity to explore the cultural richness and historical narratives of Viking and Medieval Scandinavia. This programme also offers the opportunity to study in two Nordic countries.  

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