Thursday, 11 August 2011

Courses no one wants to take

A Swedish newspaper yesterday had a piece about courses at Stockholm University that nobody applied to. While there were 6,000 applicants to law and business management, there were 173 courses or programmes that didn't have a single application. While this is the bitter truth of academic life, I wonder how narrow a specialisation can go before it becomes ridiculous. It is a shame that nobody wants to study classic languages, but there are very few career opportunities with such a degree, and no one can afford these days to study a subject for fun. Here is a selection of indemanded courses:

Master programme in Religious studies
Master programme in comparative literature with focus on Ancient Greek
Postcolonial theory
Theatre history
Norwegian language and culture
Czech fiction and non-fiction
Culture and politics in Slavonic countries
Portuguese sociolinguistics
Arabic with focus on Islamic studies
International and comparative education
Psychology of sports
Swedish natural geography
Evolution of dinosaurs
Teaching English in secondary school


Mr Pond said...

Interesting. It does seem that several of those might be sub-disciplines rather than disciplines. The Master of Religious Studies (MRS?) usually indicates a watered down Divinity degree anyway, one degree path of several, so that doesn't necessarily mean people didn't enroll in the theological school. Although I wouldn't have thought of Stockholm as a place to study Czech literature (which may be ill-informed, but I think is a good indication of popular perception, at least).

I'm intrigued that no one took TESL, though; that degree has potential for any number of job opportunities, as there are TESL programmes and people to take them in more than a few countries. Unless TESS is considered more restricting than the broader TESL degree?

Now I'll be smugly pleased that Scottish Studies and Children's Literature didn't make the list, and will refrain from considering whether it's even offered...

Mats Staffansson said...

Masha, thank you first of all for a very well-written and interesting blogg. I don´t read it on a daily basis but when I do I always find you have something interesting to say (or rather write)!

A bit sad with all those courses no one applies for. Reminds me about my youth in the city of Västerås in Sweden (it must have been 1968)I was the only 16-year old pupil in the town (with 100.000 inhabitants in those days) who expressed an interest in learning classical Greek in high school (i.e. grade 10-12 in the Swedish system). So no Greek for me. I had to do with only Latin (there were some 7 pupils more for Latin that year and they managed to organize one class for us with a highly excentric old teacher, but that´s a completely different story..)

Do you have a link, by the way, to the article in the Swedish newspaper about university courses where not a single person applied? It would be interesting to have a look at!

All the best from Mats Staffansson

Catherine Butler said...

I was expecting to see a list of amusingly wacky courses such as "Mayan napkin-folding", but a lot of those seem utterly mainstream. For example, in their different ways half the programmes I see on telly dealing with either Nutrition or Arabic (with an Islamic focus) - they're hardly irrelevant to the modern world.

Even Ancient Greek - well, as you say, not many people need it for their job, but then they never did. People with degrees in Classics have gone on to do all kinds of things. It all seems very sad.

Maria Nikolajeva said...

There is no course in Scottish Studies at SU, but children's lit is its specialty and is offered from undergrad all the way up to PhD. That's what I taught before I moved to Cambridge.

Mr Pond said...

Maria, thanks. I supposed I should have figured that out on my own. But all the more reason to feel smug, I guess.

Catherine--although if you go back a hundred years (and further), wasn't it true that one mark of the Well Educated Gentleman was a command of Latin and Greek and Classical Literature? So in that sense it would have been required to get a certain level of job, and a certain degree of societal standing. In that sense it does seem indicative that the change is what society values. As you say, it is very sad.

Although I have to wonder if, say, students taking Greek enrolled in Classics or equivalent, instead of Comparative Lit?

marlyat2 said...

Did you notice the bit of riot-news about a street where every shop was sacked except one? Guess which one. Yes, the bookstore!