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What to do if you want to change courses at university?


Student Life



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You’ve moved into your accommodation, met your flatmates and gotten to know a new city over the course of a fun Fresher’s Week. Now it’s time to hit the books and get studying. The only problem is, you’re not enjoying your course as much as you thought you would. Maybe you don’t feel committed to studying the subject for 3+ years, or perhaps you want to follow a different career path, one that you need a degree in a different subject to accomplish?

If you’ve decided your uni course isn’t right for you and want to switch to another, then the process isn’t impossible, but it’s worth doing your research to make things go as smoothly as they can. Here, we’ll look at some of your options for changing courses at university, as well as some things you should consider if you decide to make the switch.


What you should know before changing courses

Once you’ve decided that changing courses is right for you, there are a few practical things to consider before making the switch:

  • Ask yourself why you want to change and be honest with yourself; there’s no guarantee that moving to another course will be a better fit. If you make the same mistake then there’s a lot of time and money to be wasted. It may be the case that university isn’t for you, which is perfectly OK, but switching to another course isn’t something that’s going to remedy this.
  • If it’s just one or two modules that aren’t to your liking, then it’s important not to let this cloud your judgment of the overall course. You may be able to switch these modules with different ones if it’s early on in the term. If not, then accentuate the positives of the modules you are enjoying before deciding you want to switch to a different course outright.
  • Some students change courses to get a place on a more competitive course (i.e. one with grade requirements higher than they initially required). Unfortunately, this rarely works; universities are well aware of these attempts and usually reject such applications straight away.
  • If you don’t meet the basic entry requirements for the course you’d like to change to, then the course is unlikely to accept you.


changing course at university

  • There’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to transfer to the course in the year you want, especially if you’ve submitted your application after the deadline. This tends to happen with competitive courses at high-ranking universities which are already short on space or have been over-subscribed.
  • Be sure to double-check with Student Finance. Changing course can affect your entitlements, especially if you have an extra year of study. Contact the Student Finance company to check whether your situation and amount you’re owed would change in any way.



How to change your university course

If you’ve realised that the course isn’t for you within the first week or so of term, then the process is more straightforward, provided you get your application in before the deadline –usually the second or third week of term. Applications submitted after this may encounter greater difficulties.


  1. Make sure the course is right for you

In researching other courses, be as thorough as you can. Read through module descriptions, look at what other graduates have gone on to do after their studies, and the entry requirements. You may need certain grades of A-levels in specific subjects; it’ll help your case if you do, though there may be some leeway for certain courses and institutions.


  1. Speak to your personal tutor

At the earliest opportunity, talk to your personal course tutor about why you want to switch. They’ll then be able to initiate the transfer through your university’s support services, who can advise you on how to change course, direct you to the right departments, and tell you who you need to talk to.


  1. Prepare a statement

If it’s a course in a different department you’re moving to, or you’re transitioning from a single to a joint honours course, you might be asked to write a personal statement or attend a formal interview to fully assess that you’re committed to the new course.


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The admissions team may be aware that as you’ve dropped out of your current course, you may drop out again – something which could affect their graduate statistics. You’ll have to convince them of your interest and dedication towards the new course, as well as how that may tie-in with your interests and career path.

Otherwise, you’ll have to fill in a form from your student support centre or online, asking which course you’d like to apply to and why. After completing the form, your current department and the department you’re looking to move to will consider your application. If you’re successful, you’ll receive an email notifying you.

Remember – just because you’ve decided your current course isn’t right for you, it’s important not to let standards slip as a result. You might not think your work will matter, but keep attending lectures and handing in your work on time. If you start slacking, then it will give a bad impression to the people who ultimately decide whether you can transfer, and will also cause you further problems if you can’t transfer and have to stay on your current course.


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