9 Arts and Humanities Degrees to Consider

18 Oct, 2023 | English, University Preparation

What Are the Arts and Humanities?

The arts and humanities are a diverse range of subjects that explore human expression, culture, history and thought. 

Through literature, art, music and philosophy, they provide insights into the human experience – our shared past and societal complexities – to encourage a deep and meaningful engagement with the world around us. 

An Arts and Humanities student will interpret the past and analyse the present to envision a future of compassion and human connection, picking up valuable lifelong skills along the way!

What Will I Learn Studying for an Arts and Humanities Degree?

In an age of new scientific discoveries and technological advancements, the pursuit of an Arts and Humanities degree can seem like an unconventional choice. However, there remains a demand – arguably now more than ever – for the unique human skills that the arts and humanities foster.

Here are just a few of the things you’ll learn while studying for an Arts and Humanities degree:

I. Critical thinking and analytical skills

Lots of arts and humanities subjects analyse texts, historical events and philosophical ideas in great detail, encouraging students to think critically, evaluate complex information and form well-reasoned arguments. 

Challenges and obstacles arise in every career, so being able to think critically, solve problems and make informed decisions is highly valued across all industries and sectors.

II. Creativity and innovation

Unsurprisingly, Arts and Humanities degrees encourage creativity and innovation! By studying different cultural and historical viewpoints – in depth and breadth! – students learn to think beyond conventional boundaries to generate new ideas, solutions and interpretations.

Many arts and humanities disciplines also involve self-expression and personal creativity through music, literature and art. This focus on personal growth alongside professional development contributes to a well-rounded education.

III. Effective communication

Communication is an invaluable skill for almost every career. By analysing and discussing complex topics, Arts and Humanities students hone their written and verbal communication skills, learning to articulate their ideas clearly and persuasively.

Learning to communicate in a concise and nuanced way is important in professional and personal interactions, and graduates of the Arts and Humanities develop exceptional communication skills to take with them into all areas of life.

IV. Cultural awareness and a global perspective

In an increasingly connected world, the cultural awareness and global perspective of an Arts and Humanities degree is more relevant than ever. 

Students explore diverse cultures, historical contexts and societal issues, developing a deeper understanding of the human experience across different time periods and places. 

This level of awareness leaves graduates with strong collaborative skills and a sound understanding of the nuances involved in effective teamwork.

Arts and Humanities students in Oxford.


How Do I Choose an Arts and Humanities Degree?

Just like choosing your university, it’s important to research your degree and course to make sure you’re choosing a subject that aligns with your interests, passions and future goals.

Here are some things to consider when choosing an Arts and Humanities degree:

I. Identify your interests

A good starting point is to reflect on the current subjects that you’re passionate about. Do you enjoy reading, writing, creating art, or exploring philosophical ideas?

Which school subjects consistently capture your interest and curiosity? What extracurricular activities do you find yourself naturally drawn to? 

Explore the range of arts and humanities disciplines and see if any initially pique your interest!

II. Consider your career goals

While the arts and humanities offer versatile and transferable skills, it’s still a good idea to think about the potential career paths you may like to pursue in the future. If you want to be a journalist, you’ll likely find it to be a smoother transition from English Literature than Fine Art! 

If you’re not yet sure of your career goals, it can be helpful to research potential job opportunities related to a subject. One of the many advantages of an Arts and Humanities degree is the wide range of industries open to you upon graduation – education, publishing, research and arts administration to name just a few – so dig into what’s on offer!

III. Evaluate course content

Once you’ve identified your interests and potential career goals, you can begin your research! Spend some time reviewing the course descriptions of different degree programmes, and consider whether the topics resonate with your interests and goals.

If your favourite subject at school is English, you might decide to focus your research on:

  • English Literature if you enjoy writing essays on novels you’ve read
  • Creative Writing if you’re passionate about creating stories or writing poetry
  • Linguistics if you find yourself drawn to analysing the language that writers use
  • Performing Arts if dramas and plays capture your excitement

Sometimes picking just one subject can be difficult! Certain universities also offer the flexibility to combine two or three subjects into one degree. If you have multiple passions, then a joint honours is definitely worth considering.

Arts and Humanities Degrees to Consider

1. Literature and Language Studies

Literature and Language Studies include a rich and diverse selection of programmes – English Literature, Creative Writing, English Language – all encouraging a love for reading, language and critical analysis.

Literature degrees focus on the exploration of literature from different cultures and historical periods, often offering a variety of optional modules based on the research interests of the faculty. Language degrees delve into the study of languages to foster an understanding of identity, communication and cultural nuances. 

These degrees can open doors to careers in publishing, translation, teaching and media communication, providing the foundation for students aspiring to shape narratives and share ideas.

2. History and Archaeology

History is a detailed and far-reaching subject, consisting of much more than simply memorising dates and events! As the study of humanity’s past, it emphasises the importance of understanding historical events and preserving cultural heritage. 

The study of History and Archaeology complement each other nicely. Archaeology plays an important part in deciphering historical events. The two subjects together encourage students to critically analyse the past and interpret its impact on modern society. 

A degree in History or Archaeology lays the groundwork for a career in research, heritage management and museum curation, contributing to the preservation of our shared human story.

3. Philosophy and Ethics

Venturing into the realm of Philosophy and Ethics, students embark on a journey to explore the fundamental questions that have perplexed humanity for centuries. This field nurtures critical thinking, ethical reasoning and a deep understanding of the human experience. 

As society continues to grapple with complex moral dilemmas, Philosophy provides tools to navigate them thoughtfully. Philosophy features in a range of combined degrees, such as PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics), and these are a great option, offering interdisciplinary insights and connections between multiple subjects. 

The possible career paths – ethics consulting, academia, law, public policy – and the potential to shape the ethical framework of our society are vast!

4. Fine Arts and Visual Arts

Art has an unparalleled ability to convey emotions, ideas and stories that words can sometimes struggle to express. Fine Arts and Visual Arts celebrate the power of visual communication, encouraging creativity and aesthetic appreciation in contemporary society. 

Exploring various art forms, like painting, sculpture, photography and digital media, not only hones your artistic skills but also encourages new and exciting ways of interpreting the world around us. 

A Fine Arts or Visual Arts degree paves the way for career paths in art galleries, graphic design, illustration, and even art therapy, where your creativity becomes a medium for healing and helping others.

A handful of paintbrushes.

5. Performing Arts and Drama

The spotlight of a Performing Arts or Drama degree instils students with confidence, self-expression and exceptional teamwork skills. 

Whether the theatre stage is your home, or dance and music is your passion, a degree in Performing Arts and Drama promotes creativity and self-exploration! 

With potential career paths in acting, theatre production and  drama education, you’ll be a part of an industry that cultivates empathy, nurtures self-expression and bridges divides.

6. Music and Musicology

Music is a universal language, influencing emotions and cultures worldwide! 

The study of Music and Musicology delves into the history, theory and cultural impact of music, equipping students with a sound understanding of the subject. You’ll also develop a range of practical skills in performance, composition and music technology. 

Through studying music, you might aspire to be a musician, music educator, composer, or even a music researcher! 

Musical notation.

7. Media Studies and Communication

Media plays an important part in how we perceive the world, shaping our opinions, culture and social interactions. 

A degree in Media Studies and Communication empowers students to become critical thinkers through the analysis of different media forms. This could be traditional journalism, television, film or the evolving landscape of social media, helping you understand the power and responsibility that comes with publicly sharing information. 

Potential careers include journalism, advertising, public relations and digital media!

8. Cultural Studies and Anthropology

Cultural Studies and Anthropology encourages an appreciation and sensitivity toward different cultures, fostering a global perspective of human societies. 

Exploring anthropological research methods encourages students to understand the intricacies of human behaviour, cultural differences and the similarities between societies. 

Current career paths include anthropology research, cultural consulting and international development. These are all fantastic opportunities to bridge cultural gaps and promote cross-cultural understanding.

9. Linguistics and Applied Linguistics

A Linguistics or Applied Linguistics degree dives into the science of language and explores its significance in communication and cognition. Studying phonetics, syntax, semantics and language acquisition, this field explores how languages are structured, acquired, and used. 

Applied Linguistics takes this knowledge further and equips students with the knowledge and skills to enter a career in language teaching, speech pathology, translation or computational linguistics.

Each Arts and Humanities degree offers a unique way to explore human creativity, expression and understanding.

Remember, the pursuit of Arts and Humanities degrees isn’t just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about nurturing a mindset that values creativity, empathy and critical thinking. It’s about becoming an advocate for change, a preserver of culture, and a storyteller for humanity’s past, present and future!


By Emily Hindle

Emily is an undergraduate student at the University of Bristol reading English Literature, specialising in Modernist writers. In her free time, Emily enjoys running and hopes to complete her first half-marathon next year. She also loves photography and videography.

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