Most intellectually stimulating courses in the UK: subject rankings

History and philosophy courses are the most interesting and have the most enthusiastic teachers in the UK
November 30 2016

History and philosophy are the most intellectually stimulating courses to study in the UK, according to new analysis of student satisfaction.

Over the past five years, more than 54 per cent of history and philosophy students in the National Student Survey (NSS) strongly felt that their subject was intellectually stimulating.

Staff enthusiasm seems to be an important factor in whether students enjoy their courses, since history and philosophy also recorded the highest proportion of students who said that their staff were enthusiastic about the subject they teach.

Business students are the least likely to say that their course is intellectually stimulating or is taught by enthusiastic staff.

Although a majority of students find law degrees intellectually stimulating, law courses drop down the ranking for enthusiastic teachers.

The analysis of NSS data from 2012 to 2016 was done by Scientia, which provides timetabling software to universities.

James Grashoff, head of sales and marketing at Scientia, says: “Student satisfaction is made of many constituent parts, from teaching through to organisation and management. Institutions need to understand all of those parts.

“That means they need to focus on the quality of their courses, make them stimulating and teach their students in the best manner possible, but it also means that institutions need to get the basics right.”

Although medicine degrees were judged to be stimulating and largely taught by enthusiastic staff, medical students were least likely to feel that their course was well organised.

Not one subject received a majority of students agreeing that their course was well organised, but history and philosophy, law, geography and languages came out on top.

Subject ranking: “My degree course is intellectually stimulating”

Data from the UK National Student Survey 2012-16

Rank

Subject

Percentage of students who strongly agree

1

History and philosophy

54.4

2

Law

52.6

3

Medicine

49.7

4

Languages

49.2

5

Architecture

43.9

6

Social studies

43.6

7

Science

43.1

8

Creative arts

42.8

9

Engineering

42.2

10

Geography

41.7

11

Education

36.5

12

Media and communications

33.5

13

Business

32.2

Subject ranking: “My teaching staff are enthusiastic about their subject”

Data from the UK National Student Survey 2012-16

Rank

Subject

Percentage of students who strongly agree

1

History and philosophy

59.0

2

Languages

55.9

3

Creative arts

54.5

4

Geography

51.7

5

Education

47.5

6

Architecture

46.5

7

Medicine

46.4

=8

Media and communications

45.3

=8

Social studies

45.3

10

Law

44.7

11

Science

42.9

12

Engineering

38.1

13

Business

37.1

Subject ranking: “My degree course is well-organised”

Data from the UK National Student Survey 2012-16

Rank

Subject

Percentage of students who strongly agree

1

History and philosophy

45.2

2

Law

43.3

3

Geography

42.9

4

Languages

42.4

5

Social studies

39.7

6

Science

39.6

7

Business

39.5

8

Engineering

36.8

9

Architecture

35.5

10

Creative arts

34.0

11

Education

33.8

12

Media and communications

33.7

13

Medicine

32.0

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