Career and course exploration

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Career and course exploration

What is ‘career and course exploration’?

Career and course exploration means exploring and finding out more about the career or subject area you are interested in. You might have decided upon the types of courses you are interested in, be considering a few different subject areas, or you maybe you haven’t given it much thought yet. No matter which stage you are at, this kind of research will be really beneficial for you! Some universities will also expect this for certain subjects.

Career and course exploration resources - we've also created a subject-specific career and course exploration list here

The following FREE resources have content relating to a huge range of subject areas and careers:

  • The Sutton Trust works with universities all over the UK to offer Summer Schools. These are a great opportunity to learn more about your subject area, and what it is like studying and socialising at uni. 
  • Future Learn provides short online courses on a huge range of topics. Top tip: there is no need to pay for the certificate of completion. Simply note down the name of the course and it is enough to mention this in your application. Similarly, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) (not all courses are free, but many are!).
  • Gresham College Lecture Series for taster lectures on a wide range of subjects.
  • JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books and primary sources. You’ll read lots of these types of texts while studying at university. Try reading a few articles related to your subject area, but don’t worry if you don’t understand everything just yet!
  • HE+, created by Cambridge University students and academics, gives a quick guide for what it is like to study the subject at university level as well as guided activities, questions to think about and suggestions for further reading.
  • BBC Sounds, including Podcasts and Radio 4 ‘In Our Time’. Also, TEDx has over 3,400 short talks.

University and college websites are also a great way to find out what courses actually involve. Check out our blog on ‘Choosing courses at university or college’ for resources and helpful tips.  

You may also be interested in taking a Young Applicants in School (YASS) course as one of your S6 subjects. YASS gives S6 students the opportunity to study a range of university level courses alongside their other subjects.

How career exploration helps...

  • Try before you buy – by doing this type of research, you’ll see if you actually like the subject area (disclaimer: you might realise through this process that the career or subject area isn’t for you. That is totally ok, and will help you to think about where your interests do lie)
  • Universities and colleges are keen to see this type of research in your application! It will show you are motivated, passionate and interested, and helps to make your application stand out.
  • You can develop skills and knowledge that will help you when starting your course.

Top tip: Make notes as you go! For example:

  • What insights are you gaining into the subject / career?
  • What are the skills and qualities required?
  • Are there any topics which particularly grab your attention?
  • Your research might also give you some ideas on future career paths.

You can reflect on all of this in your application! We've created a useful reflection sheet to help you with this.