A guide to picking the right course modules

Dan Lever on 7 February 2014
A guide to picking the right course modules

Taking the time to pick the right course modules for you can massively affect your enjoyment and success at university. We've put together this essential guide to help you make the right choices.

Ok, so you’ve made one of the most important decisions of your life so far – You’ve chosen your university and have been accepted for the degree you wanted to study BUT the important decisions don’t stop there!

The majority of undergraduate degree programmes are made up of different course modules. Typically, there will be modules that are required as part of your programme (core modules) and there will also be optional modules. Some degrees also allow you to select electives, which are modules outside your subject area that give you the opportunity to broaden your studies. Each course module is allocated a number of credits, usually between 5 and 20 credits and the combination of your modules will make up the 120 credits required per academic year. Of course, you have no choice over the core modules but for those that you can decide on, choosing the right modules for you will have a major influence on your success and enjoyment at university and could ultimately help lead to better career options in the future. We’ve put together the following steps to help you make better decisions with your module selection:-

1) Fully Understand Your Degree Programme

Just because your mate doesn’t have any module choices to make in their 1st year does NOT mean the same applies to you. All degrees vary – Some may have a high proportion of optional modules meaning you have lots of decisions to make, while others less so. Make sure you really take your time to fully understand all the options available to you throughout your time at uni. You may find that modules you want to choose in future years require you to take pre-requisite modules beforehand, so getting to grips with your programme can help you in future years as well as now. Most universities provide a breakdown of all the modules available to you on their university website, highlighting whether modules are core or optional, as well as detailing any pre-requisites required. Some universities provide this information as part of a course module handbook or individual departments will supply this information. If you’re unable to find your options, make sure you get in touch with either your department, your programme leader or your personal tutor.

2) Check out the content of the modules

It’s a well known fact of life that if you do something you’re more interested in then you’ll enjoy it more, be more engaged and ultimately will getter better results. Make sure you know what you’re going to be learning about within your modules. Most universities provide a module outline that will detail the objectives along with the syllabus covered. Have a look through and if there is anything that makes you eyelids heavier than a sumo wrestler after a trip to Domino’s just by scanning over the syllabus then you should probably look at the other options available to you.

3) Find out about the format of the modules

We all learn in different ways – Some people are blessed with sponge-like brains and absorb the information in lectures on the first time of hearing it. Some people learn better by talking through concepts and taking part in active discussions. Others can just read a book, remember it and pretty much churn it out verbatim in exams. Make sure you check the teaching methods for the modules you’re considering taking. If lectures tend to send you into a blissful coma then you should probably make sure the module doesn’t solely consist of lectures and there are some tutorials or seminars too to help stimulate your dreamy brain.

4) Make sure you understand the forms of assessment

Are you an exam whizz or more the type of person that likes to take their time over a piece of coursework? If the thought of a time-pressured exam leaves you more nervous than a man with a comb-over walking under a ceiling fan then try to avoid picking modules that are 100% assessed on a final exam. You should always play to your strengths to try and maximise your final mark. It is sometimes smart to spread the risk, picking modules that have bits of coursework throughout the year. Unless you know you’ve got exams down to a tee, in which case, go with what you’re best at!

5) Don’t just pick the same modules as your friends!

This one may sound completely obvious but it’s all too common that students end up picking modules based on what their bezzie is doing! Sure, it’s nice to know that you’re always going to have someone that you can sit next to in lectures but what suits one person isn’t always going to work for you. This is likely to be your only shot at a degree so you need to pick modules that will engage you and keep your interest to make sure you do as well as possible. Do you really want to choose a module that you’re not as likely to do as well in just so you can sit next to your mate Baz? Take a chance, make decisions that are right for you and you’ll probably meet some new awesome friends on your modules anyway that are way better than Baz…

6) Listen to the opinions of other students

A superb source of information for helping with your decisions is to speak to somebody that has taken the modules that you’re considering before. You can then get further insight into how the module is on all the above factors. Unfortunately it’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to know someone that has done all the modules you’re considering. That’s where Student Hut comes in. Student Hut provides the UK’s largest resource of course module reviews giving you previous students opinions on modules, including extra insight into module content, teaching quality, learning resources, academic support, assessments and students overall opinion. This is a superb, extra bit of information that will give you more insight into your modules helping you to make more informed decisions. Check out what other students have said about your course modules here.

Above: Seeing what other students thought is crucial when picking modules.

Final thoughts

When choosing your modules, your university will provide you with information on points 1-4. This information may be provided on the website, in a handbook or by individual departments. Sometimes, universities also run showcase lectures for modules giving you the chance to fully understand the content, format and forms of assessment. These are a superb way to gauge if the module will be suitable for you, so be sure to get your ass out of bed and take advantage! You don’t want to be in the 68% of students that said they wish they had made different decisions with the modules that they picked. Picking your modules in a smart way, by taking the opinions of other students into consideration by checking out the reviews on Student Hut, while also looking at the other essential factors will all contribute to helping you pick what’s right for you. This will ultimately mean that you’ll get more out of your course and be more successful, which will of course lead to better job opportunities in the future as well!

Liked this article? Check out Tips for Boosting Your CV While at University and How to Make the Most of Second Semester.

Dan Lever
Dan Lever on 7 February 2014