Arts and Sciences (BASc) programmes
Since the early conception of academic disciplines in classic civilizations, through the establishment of higher education organised into subjects in the late middle ages, and up to the present day, knowledge is compartmentalised and split off into specific disciplines. At the tender age of fourteen we choose our GCSE subjects, which then determine which A-levels we are able to take, and ultimately which degree we will study at University. And yes, this is how almost every student in the UK moves through academia, narrowing down their focus in each stage of education. And maybe this is the right way to do it. Maybe people are meant to specialise in one discipline, to gain a deep and focused knowledge of a field and progress into an expert, of let’s say, law, engineering, or fine art.
However, some students do not feel they are meant to be one of those people. Some students are often told they are ‘spreading themselves too thin’ because they are passionate about a range of subjects, and attain equally good grades across a range of disciplines, that are chosen not to progress to a specific degree, but to reflect the student’s talents and passions. And for these students, why should their varied and exciting educational journey to be cut short by the narrow degree options of most universities?
However, this idea is now made possible by the BASc Arts and Sciences programme at UCL. It is an interdisciplinary degree that allows students to mix and combine disciplines to create academic synergies, that produce a BASc Honours graduate with qualifications in both arts and sciences. Students can choose a major and minor pathway (one arts pathway, one science), with four options: Cultures, Societies, Health and Environment, and Sciences and Engineering, and on top of this, they can then study a language, either from scratch or continuing with languages they have previously studied. Within these pathways, undergraduates can then hand pick modules from any department in the University, creating a completely personalised degree programme that produces a student who can face problems with a multi-faceted and strong knowledge base across a range of fields. The first cohort of BASc students graduate in 2015, and are expected to be some of the most employable graduates in the market due to their language skills and broad problem-solving knowledge that can be applied to many situations. If this is true, maybe we should start looking at our approach to learning in the UK, and start thinking about interdisciplinary courses not as a niche for one of the country’s leading universities, but as a fundamental part of education.
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