How useful is your degree?

The Yorker has gotten hold of a leaked UCAS memo reveals what the top education bods in our country really think about your choice of degree:


English is mainly the study of some of the writings that have been written in this rather popular language. Most of the degree is concerned with pretentiously analysing works of fiction; interpreting characters, plots and what have you, in your own distinct style. However whether this is hard work or not (it isn’t) is irrelevant as being able to look into works of literature too deeply is a useless skill and the only reason anyone would ever read other peoples’ work in this field is to bulk out the bibliography for their own essay.

Summary: Good if you don’t want to think too hard

Usefulness rating: 2/10

Possible career: English teacher


Normally taken by people who have watched ‘A beautiful mind’ too many times. Maths is not for the faint-hearted and it’s probably the hardest looking subject when looking over the shoulder of someone revising. The best bit about the degree is showing other people what difficult work you can (pretend to) understand.

Summary: Makes you look clever

Usefulness rating: 8/10

Possible careers: Professional show-off, computer programmer, nerd


For those not good enough to get into a conservatoire, similar to English but more intellectually challenging.

Summary: Alright if you really like music

Usefulness rating: 3/10

Possible career: Music teacher


The study of a foreign language or two. Pretty pointless since you’ll never get as good as: people with foreign parents, people who have actually lived in a foreign country, Google translate or indeed, foreign people (most of whom can speak English rather well). Summary: You’d be better off just living in that country for a short while.

Usefulness rating: 1/10

Possible career: Unemployed, but you can make yourself useful by helping lost tourists find local job centres


The study of how to keep everyone alive as long as possible. Can’t really slag this one off that much.

Summary: You’re sure to get employed

Usefulness rating: 10/10

Possible career: Something in the health service


History is like English but a bit more useful; although there is a lot of pretentious analysing this time it’s actually mildly useful- only if you’re in the government mind. History is on paper, rewarding for the student; “you get to learn about how this world came about”, but in reality you focus on usually obscure periods of world history, often losing the sense of the ‘bigger picture’ that you did have before.

Summary: You’ll never ‘quit living in the past’

Usefulness rating: 3.5/10

Possible career: Working in the foreign office (if your degree is from Oxbridge)


Economics is the study of money. Some people see Economics as a university level, dodgy ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme on offer to the masses. This is correct; studying Economics to make money on the stock market is like watching films to try and become a film star.

Summary: Not a shortcut into wealth

Usefulness rating: 5/10

Possible careers: Worker in ‘The City’ (If Daddy can get you an internship…), boring office worker, journalist for The Economist


Biology is the runt of the lot, by far the easiest and with very poor job prospects, chemistry is the skills that any biologist who actually ends up in science will end up using and physics is the study of how bouncy balls bounce. Each subject will invariably claim theirs to be the best out of the three, but in reality they’re all an ugly sibling of maths.

Summary: You get to wear a dapper white lab coat

Usefulness rating: 7/10

Possible careers: Scientist, office ‘you’ve-failed-at-being-a-scientist’ worker


The subject that traditionally, everyone laughs at

Summary: Lots of colouring in

Usefulness rating: 0/10

Possible career: Crash-test dummy

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