Guest Expressed: “5 of the Most Weird and Wonderful Subjects Ever Taught”

Today Jonathan will tell us about some bizarre subject that you could actually study. Enter Jonathan:

There’s always pressure from government and industry for students to be taught real-world skills, in order to prepare them for a lifetime of work. But let’s face it, if you’re just studying English or Chemistry, that’s not going to stand out on your CV when it comes to making a potential employer sit up and take notice. Here are five real-life examples of courses that have dared to be different.

1. Harry Potter Studies

Sadly, no, you didn’t get to study this subject at Hogwarts Castle itself. Still, historic Durham University wasn’t a bad alternative, and some of its buildings at least look as though they might once have been home to mysterious magical mischief. In fact, the course covered serious topics, such as bullying and prejudice. Saving the world from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would be a laudable aim for wizards and Muggles alike, but this course contained rather more sociology than herbology.

2. Jedi Mind Control

As Yoda would doubtless have put it, truly out of this world was this subject. It was a psychology course – naturally – and it was offered at one time or another by a surprising number of educational institutions, not all of them in a galaxy far, far away. However, the Force may not have been quite so strong with this one, as in 2010 George Lucas sued the Jedi Mind Control Company for trademark infringement. They probably found his lack of faith disturbing.

3. Maple Syrup – The Real Thing

Have you ever sat at the breakfast table and pondered on the fascinating background of your morning meal? No, probably you haven’t. But if you happened to have been seized with an insatiable curiosity about the history of maple syrup, then New York’s Alfred University offered to tell you all you’d ever wanted to know, but were unable to ask while wolfing down those delicious pancakes. It sounds as though it was a pretty sweet deal.

4. Street Arts

 The University of Winchester will show you the ropes when it comes to making a name for yourself on the street – and no, not like that. It sets its sights a little higher than the busker outside the post office with the out-of-tune accordion, and considers such lofty topics as “Visualising the Street” and “Transcultural Context”. The current course is run in partnership with the Winchester Hat Fair, so if you’ve hung on to your accessories after taking the Harry Potter course, you’ll have a head start.

5. Ghostbusters

Well, all right: the official name of this degree, at Coventry University, was “Psychology of Exceptional Human Experiences” – but who’d have signed up for that? On the course, you could have spent two years learning how to deal with poltergeists (some free advice: duck) and the secrets of telepathy. What potential students really needed to know, though, was whether you had the chance to get behind the wheel of Ecto-1, the customised Cadillac that was such a star of the original film.

Jonathan is a freelance writer who went on variety of courses which weren’t so off the wall. These include nursing courses and a graduate teacher programme

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