We all have wishes and dreams, but not many of us have a clear vision of what we are going to do in the future or what we are going to study at university. It gets easier to decide our study and career paths as we grow a little older and have a better idea of where our interest lies. But knowing what we will be studying in university while we are still at school, is next to impossible.

we are still at school, is next to impossible.

So we have compiled a list of unique, interesting and some downright weird courses and degrees that are taught in different universities and colleges around the world. These strange college courses show the emerging needs around the world and offer unique opportunities for graduates. Some of these courses can be the right match for people with unusual skills and interests, while for others it will open doors of opportunities that they didn’t even know about.

So while there are hundreds of such courses and degrees, we are only looking at some of them here and hoping that you will do your own research to find out more unique degrees and diplomas that you can opt for.

Ethical hacking

“Hacking! But what is ethical about hacking?” you may ask. Well, in simple words, hacking a computer system with good intentions is called ethical hacking.

When there are hackers who break into a computer system to steal data and cause some harm, there have to be some people who can stop them from doing that. So for this, there are ethical hackers who detect and fix security loopholes to stop the unethical ones from causing damage.

Dakota State University, Madison, South Dakota, US, offers ‘Dakota State Ethical Hacking Graduate Certificate’, designed for IT professionals with at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science. This nine-credit certificate programme equips tech workers with cutting-edge security skills, such as cyber security, testing for weaknesses, managing hacking incidents and more.

Bagpipe performance

At the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US, students can earn a degree in Bagpiping from the Performing Arts School.

Carnegie Mellon’s School of Music has been offering Bagpipe Performance majors for over 75 years, where students continue playing in a pipe band throughout their undergraduate years. It is one of only two schools in US to offer a four-year degree in the art of Bagpipe Performance.

The National Piping Centre, Glasgow, is the only one in UK that offers Bachelor of Music degree where playing bagpipe throughout the course is required.

Taxidermy

Taxidermy is the skill of preserving animals in a lifelike state, or stuffing them. And there are a number of colleges and institutes that teach students the practical knowledge and skills required in this.

The British Academy of Taxidermy, London, offers the UK’s largest selection of taxidermy classes and, in their own words, has been “teaching the world to get stuffed since 2009.” Their certificate course offers skinning and finishing techniques that make the students eligible to run their own taxidermy business and guide training.

Assiniboine Community

College, in Manitoba, Canada, is another place where you can learn this if you don’t mind being around dead animals.

Puppetry

The University of Connecticut’s MA/MFA in Puppetry, in US, is one of the world’s best for those who what to be puppeteers with a professional degree.

Puppetry is one of the most intensively multidisciplinary arts, a fine art and entertainment medium which incorporates so many different things — art and design, material science and engineering, acting and movement, and even robotics and computing.

In this course, students get a thorough grounding in the history, theory and contexts of puppetry, the hands-on know-how to design, build and operate all kinds of puppets.

Wasting Time on the Internet

Yes, you read it right. This is a course.

Undergraduate students in the University of Pennsylvania can opt for an English course titled, “Wasting Time on the Internet”, which requires them to dedicate three hours a week to be wasted on the web doing nothing. And imagine getting credit for this!

The course attempts to bring about an intellectual interface with the concepts of boredom and time-wasting, to see if what people generally read on internet through Tweets, Facebook posts and casual comments can be a source of meaningful literary content.

The Joy of Garbage

This is just too weird! The Joy of Garbage is a course at Santa Clara University where students are asked to investigate garbage as if they were archaeologists digging into a hidden treasure.

The professor who teaches the course claims she actually teaches students cold, hard science using trash and waste as the central focus. The main idea is to show that societies deal with their waste the same way they take care of their environment.

Well ... maybe the course is not all garbage after all!

Turfgrass Science

Penn University’s Department of Plant Science, which itself is contained in the College of Agricultural Sciences, offers a full undergraduate degree programme in Turfgrass Science.

During the course, students study biology, chemistry and meteorology, among other subjects, that will help you learn everything about cultivation, protection against the elements and pest management. It offers career opportunities that may include maintenance of the golf course, sod design and athletic facility maintenance.

Harry Potter

There is good news for Harry Potter fans, there are a number of colleges and universities around the globe that are offering various courses related to Harry Potter that explores the many aspects of this popular series.

‘To Hogwarts, Harry: An Intensive Study of Harry Potter Through the British Isles Harry-Potter’, is a course at Central Michigan University. This spring semester course offers students the chance to jet to England to follow in Harry’s footsteps, to see the Scottish glen where Hagrid’s Hut stood, to shop at the Leadenhall Market that gave inspiration to Diagon Alley, to cross the threshold of Oxford’s Christ Church, which inspired the Great Hall at Hogwarts.

This two-week course is for honours English students only to give them an immersive cultural experience.

The University of Western Ontario offers a course titled ‘The Many Faces of Harry Potter’ where students read all the books again and delving deeply into a range of topics.

The Ohio State University teaches a course titled ‘Fantasy Literature: Harry Potter’, where the focus is on the story of the wizard world and teaches muggles about the literary techniques and cultural roots of the novels. Students have to read all seven books, as well as articles about the series and other materials about the fantasy genre.

Then at the Education Studies programme at the University of Durham, students get to analyse how the boy who beat You Know Who suffered from all sorts of prejudice and bullying, and how that relates to similar issues in the world today.

The Beatles, Popular Music and Society

For all Beatles fans, this is the opportunity to be officially considered a ‘master’ of Beatles. Liverpool Hope University offers students the unique chance to obtain a master’s degree in The Beatles, Popular Music and Society. The unique course is for students interested in musicology, politics, gender studies, concepts of authenticity, aesthetics, bowl cuts and more.

Beyoncé
Beyoncé

Politicising Beyoncé

This is a featured programme at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, US, where the pop singer’s lyrics and videos are used as a lens through which the dynamics of gender, race, power and popular culture are viewed.

The course claims to use “Beyoncé’s work as a jumping-off point for consideration of the historical and political constructs impacting the lives and experiences of black women in today’s society.”

The Simpsons and Philosophy

I bet you thought that all the weird courses and degrees have been done with in this article. No, there is more to come.

University of California, Berkeley, US, offers a two-unit course ‘The Simpsons and Philosophy’, which explores the way the long-running TV show uses satire to make us question the normal assumptions we have about ourselves and the world.

Kanye West and Jay Z
Kanye West and Jay Z

Kanye West and Jay Z

Yes, what you are reading is true. University of Missouri, US, offers a course on the two rap stars as part of their African Diaspora Studies degree.

Students opting for this course get to learn how these two influenced hip hop culture, how they differ from others and even investigates their power in relation to the idea of the American Dream.

David Beckham Studies

For students of Sport, Media and Culture at the University of Staffordshire, UK, one of their modules is David Beckham Studies, about one of England’s best footballers.

The course seeks to examine “the rise of football from its folk origins in the 17th century to the central place it occupies in British culture.”

Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus

The Vampire in Literature and Cinema

This course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is not as creepy as it sounds. According to Professor Tomislav Longinovic, who teaches this. He claims that the idea is to “destroy negative cultural perceptions of Eastern Europe by analysing folklore, literature and film from the region, and particularly the image of the vampire in them.”

Columbia College Chicago and University of Baltimore also have courses named ‘Zombies in Popular Media’ which examines the presence of the “walking dead” in popular culture. Yes, these courses are creepier than the first one and not for the faint-hearted. So think before you enrol!

David Beckham
David Beckham

The Sociology of Miley Cyrus

If all these singers are having a course taught focused on them, can Miley Cyrus be left out?

Skidmore College, New York, offers the course The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender and Media, with the pop star used as “a lens into cultural conflict, exploring race, class, gender and the core issues of intersectionality theory.”

She seems to be an interesting subject for this sociology course because of the influence this former child star has had on society. Unlike many other child stars who didn’t make it big once they grew up, Cyrus has evolved both in terms of her music and persona.

The Science of Superheroes

If physics has never been easy for you, try learning it through this course at the University of California, Irvine, US.

It is actually an innovative way to make a tough subject more engaging and accessible. Students learn about real principles of physics through the entirely fictitious superpowers of their favourite superheroes, such as Spider-Man, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman.

Published in Dawn, Young World, November 16th, 2019