Have you heard the one about the degree in comedy? Weird and wonderful courses on offer

The race is on.

Fancy yourself as the next Peter Kay? Get yourself signed up for a BA in Comedy at Bath Spa University
Fancy yourself as the next Peter Kay? Get yourself signed up for a BA in Comedy at Bath Spa University

Clearing, the annual last-minute scramble for university places, is well underway. And in the wake of the chaos, controversy and confusion that followed the release of A-level results last week, it looks like university admissions tutors will be busier than ever as they decide who goes on which course.

But if you thought that university education was just about traditional academic subjects, such as maths, science, or the classics, you are in for a bit of a surprise. As the higher education sector has grown exponentially over the past 30 years, it has also seen the introduction of a plethora of weird, wacky and wonderful courses.

Some of these are simply vocational courses, which would have been provided by employers in the past. A generation ago, who would have envisaged universities offering degrees in nursing, policing, or hotel management? Others, such as the ones in sport or computer games, look to be about giving people the opportunity to turn their hobbies into a career path. Either way, you name it, and there is probably a university course in it somewhere.

For example, a quick glance through this year's clearing options shows that Northampton University offers the rather curious combination of Popular Music with Criminology, perhaps the ideal course for somebody who wants to produce a criminal record.

There is actually quite a selection of quirky music degrees available in clearing this year, the stand-out probably being the BA course Lyrics, Rap and MC at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Birmingham, validated by Middlesex University.

Ice-T ­– BA in rap music?

"This bespoke study option has been created for those wishing to pursue a career as a lyricist, MC or rapper," says the course guide, which does make you wonder how Ice-T managed without going to college. Maybe it should also be combined with criminology for a BA (Hons) Gangsta Rap?

The Sinology course at University of Wales, Trinity St David, does not teach people how to take part in nefarious activities, but is actually about Chinese culture.

If you've got 64-80 Ucas points, you are eligible for a Cert HE course in Substance Misuse, although before you get too excited, it is about studying the effects of such activities rather than actually taking part.

If you like to play a round, Cornwall College's BSc in Tournament Golf invites students to 'take their game to the next level', providing they have got the required 80 points. University Centre Myerscough, meanwhile, is running a two-year foundation course in cricket and coaching – owzat for something a bit different? The same college also runs a course in Basketball Coaching and Performance.

Football fans are spoiled for choice. Solent University in Southampton is offering a BA in Football Studies, while Wolverhampton University is offering a BSc in Football Coaching and Performance – although any would-be Nuno Espirito Santos may be disappointed that it is actually taught in Walsall, rather than in the shadow of Molineux.

Just 48 points will get you on Writtle University's course in Cycling Studies, although it does make you wonder what was wrong with the old Cycling Proficiency Test – which didn't require A-levels, or thousands of pounds worth of debt. Still, at least you will leave college with skills that last you a lifetime. It is, as they say, like riding a bike.

Writtle College offers a course in cycling

If you like a good bop, there are more courses in dance than you can shake a stick at, but the BA in Diverse Dance Styles at Roehampton does stand out from the crowd, as does the Dance (accelerated degree) at the University of Suffolk ­– does this mean you have to dance very fast, like when you put the video on fast forwards?

For those who dream of being the next Paul Hollywood, University College Birmingham offers a BSc in Bakery and Patisserie, although some may prefer to opt for a sandwich course.

Nottingham Trent University has a couple of courses in Knitwear Design. Some may be sceptical about whether that is really a university subject, or whether it will really help you find a job in in the industry, but if nothing else you should have a nice smart pullover for the job interview. If your taste in dressing up is a little more adventurous, you may be interested in the BA Costume Construction course at the University of South Wales.

If you are interested in learning about why your dog never does as its told, the FdSc course in Companion Animal Behaviour at Oxford-based Activate Learning Centre may be of interest, although you wonder how the late Barbara Woodhouse would have got on with such a course.

There is now a foundation course in pet behaviour, although it is hard to imagine Barbara Woodhouse being impressed

Students traditionally have a reputation for enjoying a drink or two, and many of them will no doubt raise a glass to Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh which offers a BSc in Brewing and Distilling. If wine is more your tipple, Plumpton College in Lewes, Sussex, is the place to be. It is offering not one, but three courses: a foundation courses in Wine Production and Wine Business, and a BA in International Wine Business. The degree course also offers students the opportunity to visit vineyards across Europe, which sure beats a stuffy old lecture hall.

And if you're one of those cynics who regards all these unusual degrees subjects as a bit of a joke, then why not put those skills to good use at Bath Spa University, which is offering a BA in Comedy? Or if you would rather produce a comic than actually be one, Glyndwr University in Wrexham offers both a BA in Comics, and a Master of Design course for those who want to take it that little bit further.

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