Choosing where and what to study - Undergraduate
Help and advice
Choosing a Bachelor's (undergraduate) degree is a big decision. You can usually only apply for up to 5 undergraduate courses at up to 5 universities, so you need to do lots of research on courses and universities before you apply.
We'd obviously love you to choose Portsmouth. But we also want to make sure you choose the right course and university for you.
Figuring out what you want to do
You probably already know what subjects you enjoy and what you're good at. Spend some time looking at your options and be honest with yourself about what you like about a subject before choosing your degree. Can you see yourself dedicating time and energy to it in the future? Your degree will probably be 3 or 4 years and influence your future career, so you should pick something you're excited to specialise in.
Think about something you enjoy and decide what you like about it. If you love science fiction movies, do you like the science or are you fascinated by the plot, or the special effects? If you like cars, are you interested in how they work or how people react to them?
If you're in school or college speak to your tutors or careers advisors about your options. They'll help you explore what's available. Parents, family, and friends with industry experience can help too. Reach out to friends to ask if they'll join you for a coffee to talk about your choices. Most people are willing to help, and they might be able to give you an insight into your subject that you weren't expecting.
Text: Thinking about uni? We asked some of our students about their journey. When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
Ethan: When I was growing up, I always knew I wanted to be an engineer.
Charlotte: A teacher.
Denise: Be an actress.
Rihanna: A scientist.
Caitlin: An Olympian.
Ann-Sophie: Woman in STEM.
Henrietta: Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a businesswoman and one day own my own business.
Immy: When I was growing up, I wanted to be a doctor.
Tami: A lawyer or an accountant.
Timothy: A radiologist or a pharmacist.
Jasmin: When I was growing up, I wanted to be all sorts of different careers, actually. I wanted to be a writer, a paramedic, a police officer, a beautician. I didn't know what I wanted to do.
Text: What was your favourite subject at school?
Charlotte: At school, my favourite subject was history.
Shamica: P.E., physical education.
Caitlin: PE and chemistry.
Ethan: Design engineering.
Molly: At school, my favourite subject was science, specifically biology, because I like learning about how the body works.
Timothy: Geography and that was because we got to learn about all the cultures across the world.
Henrietta: My favourite subject in school was ICT.
Jasmin: Spanish because I loved learning the language and being able to communicate.
Ann-Sophie: Maths and product design.
Text: What do you study now at university?
Shamica: At the University of Portsmouth, I study Sport, Health and Exercise Science.
Susan: Diagnostic Radiography and Medical Imaging.
Tami: I'm a master's student studying Finance.
Timothy: At uni, I now study Pharmacy.
Rihanna: International Development and French.
Molly: Biomedical Science.
Lilly: BA Honours in Journalism.
Harriet: The Operating Department Practice.
Matt: At uni, I now study Psychology.
Denise: Criminology and Forensic Studies.
Ethan: Mechanical Engineering.
Immy: At uni, I now study Animation.
Text: What is your favourite thing about uni?
Charlotte: One of my favourite things about uni is not only the fact that I find my course really interesting, but I've also joined the Lacrosse Society, which is a new sport I've never played before.
Ann-Sophie: The broad range of subjects I learn within my degree.
Caitlin: The independence and freedom you get.
Henrietta: Lecturers that are constantly supporting you and motivating you to do well.
Ethan: The depth that you study your chosen subject in.
Jasmin: I found out what career I wanted to do, I've had help with work experience and career choices and CVs.
Molly: It's being able to explore amazing new places such as Portsmouth.
Text: What's next after uni?
Denise: My next step after uni is, hopefully, a role in human resources or recruitment.
Ann-Sophie: Get my masters and, hopefully, become a chartered engineer.
Charlotte: Doing my PGCE teacher training for secondary level.
Ellie: Gain more experience in marketing and PR and, hopefully, eventually set up my own business.
Harriet: It's working for the NHS as an anaesthetic practitioner.
Matt: Hopefully, to get onto a Masters.
Susan: My next step after uni is to become a diagnostic radiographer in a hospital.
Ann-Sophie: My dream is to become a music features writer.
Denise: Getting onto a masters programme in neuropsychology.
Text: Whether you know what you already want to do, or even if you're not sure, we're here to help.
Find out what you'll learn on different courses by looking at university websites, prospectuses and UCAS.
A lot of universities organise their courses by subject so you can choose an area of study before you decide on a specific course.
You should explore your career prospects before you apply and find out which courses offer placement years, work experience, or self-employed placements. Also, consider how you'd like to learn and be assessed over those three years. Some courses assess you entirely on exam performance, others are coursework based and others are a mix of assessments.
Once you pick a degree you’ll also need to check its entry requirements.
Entry requirements tell you what qualifications, skills and experience you'll need on the course – but this isn't just about your grades. Consider volunteering, getting work experience, or taking on leadership roles to boost your CV before you start university and develop your skills to give you a stronger application.
Course comparison sites and forums
Discover Uni includes an overall 'Student Satisfaction' rating on all listed courses. This overall rating also gets broken down according to:
- learning opportunities
- assessment and feedback
- academic support
- organisation and management
- learning resources
- learning community
- student voice
Discover Uni also has sections detailing graduate outcomes. You can find out what percentage of course graduates are in employment 15 months after the course and what their average salaries are after 15 months, 3 years and 5 years.
University is not only one of the greatest times of your life but a huge stepping stone in your future career(s). People see University as a scary situation but everyone is in the same boat and extremely friendly. And Portsmouth is a fantastic city with everything you need to accommodate and entertain yourself outside of study
Once you've picked your subject or course, explore your potential university. Look at the quality of the teaching, what facilities it has and what past students say, if you can. If you're moving away from home explore your accommodation options and consider whether you’ll enjoy living in a new city.
You might also want to consider:
- Modules you find interesting on the course
- Placement and career opportunities
- Learning support
- The experience of academic staff, such as their professional experience or research expertise
- Course accreditations or society memberships
- Links to industry or high-profile companies
- Teaching and assessment methods
- Course facilities and access to specialist equipment
Take a look at what different university rankings mean and compare your universities. Find out what support is available, and choose a university that supports your career, your studies, and your health.
Going to university open days
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, visit your top universities to see them up close. Nothing compares to experiencing a city and hearing from teaching staff and students first hand.
On our Open Days you get to tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence, and chat with our students. You'll also get advice on finding somewhere to live and funding your studies so you’re armed with all the info you need to apply.
Take your time
Some people know exactly what they want to do in the future and how to get there, but a lot of us don't. And we don't always know how to figure it out.
If you’re not sure what you want to do you probably won't decide overnight. Take some time to think things over, explore your options and research different opportunities before you apply. Picking a degree or a career can feel like an all-or-nothing decision, but you'll have the chance to change your mind later if you want to. Some people change universities, degrees, or even their whole career.
Don't rush your decision, but do spend some time thinking about your choices. Many people around you – including family, friends and careers advisors – are probably more than happy to help if you reach out. If you're not sure where to start, try looking at what degrees are available to see if anything catches your eye.