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Why do some courses sound similar, but have different names?

You have thousands of courses to choose from, so picking just five can feel tricky – especially as there are so many course names that sound different but are actually very similar.

Here’s how you can read between the lines to avoid discounting a course just because its name isn't quite what you'd expect.

What’s in a name…?

Don’t get too hung up on course names. Different unis may simply label similar courses differently, and some courses may have been given a fresh name as part of a department revamp. 

It doesn’t always follow that similar course names will cover similar content, either. Sports management and sports science, for instance, can focus on quite different topics.

The devil is in the detail. Make sure you read the in-depth summary of course content (you’ll find these when browsing any course page), and select your choices based on those.

Here are some regular multi-name culprits that crop up:

Business studies or management?

What was once simply ‘business studies’ – comprised of a mixture of economics, marketing, accounting and finance, IT, HR, statistics and a year-long work placement has been split up, broken down and turned on its head over the years.

The end result? Lots of different-named degrees that often end up including very similar modules, such as:

Management degrees

Universities looking for top grades may offer a management degree option, but it’s often effectively a business degree with some subtle tweaks (some won’t offer work placements, for instance, while others will ask for A-level maths).

Other manifestations include business management, business and management, business administration or international business (different name, very similar course).

Uni application tip: When it comes to your Ucas form, choosing both business and management courses won’t look out of place. On your personal statement, emphasise your interests in the modules and areas of course content that’s shared across all of them.

Specialist management degrees

Think hospitality management, leisure management, events management and so on. Before you get to the more career-specific elements of study, most will still cover the broad spectrum of general business studies course content.

Marketing degrees

A business degree will always include marketing modules. Of course, it’s also possible to take a specialist degree solely in marketing – but again, you may find that you spend the first year taking the same module areas as business students before specialising. The same goes for degrees in accounting, finance and human resources.

Uni application tip: if your Ucas course choices end up including a mixture of business specialisms, ask yourself if a general business or management degree covering all bases would make more sense.

Biochemistry or biomedical sciences?

A biochemistry degree (the study of biology at a molecular level) will cover areas including cell biology, genetics and organic chemistry.

You’ll spot very similar areas covered in biomedical sciences, microbiology, physiology, pharmacology and neuroscience courses, too.

Uni application tip: make sure your personal statement covers your appreciation for the topic at large – in this case, explaining your interest in studying cell biology.

More similar courses

You’ll also find clusters of subjects that will cover different syllabuses but cross over in their general thinking and learning styles.

These groups can often make popular combined degree choices, alternatives to explore if you’re not 100% set on a particular course, or extra options if you’re looking for courses with higher or lower entry requirements:

  • The creative critics includes English literature, drama, American studies, history of art and classical civilisations.
  • The sociologists includes sociology, criminology, social policy and anthropology.
  • The philosophers includes religious studies, theology, philosophy, politics and international relations.
  • The engineers includes mechanical, electrical and electronic, civil and chemical engineering (or you could do a general engineering degree which allows you to try it all out before specialising).
  • The geographers includes town and country planning and real estate management on the ‘human’ side; geology and geographical information science on the ‘physical’ side.

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