Home' The Good Universities Guide : The Good Universities Guide 2017 Contents HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES 127
Humanities and social sciences
What majors can I study?
The following are just some of the majors you can study in this
What you’re in for
If you’re interested in pondering over the timeless life questions
and really getting your head buzzing, then it’s hard to go past the
humanities and social sciences. This is one of the largest fields of
study, so there’s a lot to take in. It’s also one of the most
complicated, with many courses and specialisations within
courses, as well as different kinds of careers and further study
Other related fields that may be of interest include business and
management, communications, creative arts, economics,
education and training, languages, law, psychology and social
Courses and specialisations
There are some specialisations in this field that offer clear career
paths (such as counselling and library studies), while others are a
little more ‘open ended’. In some fields, it can take a while for
graduates to reap the rewards of a generalist qualification in this
field. That said, this is only the scene immediately after
graduation. Years down the track, some graduates are finding
their way into positions where communication, critical thinking,
research and problem-solving skills are highly prized.
Aside from the sometimes negative employment outcomes,
courses in this field are among the most appreciated and best-
taught courses in universities. They offer a thoroughly pleasant
way of studying, with usually only 12 or so ‘contact’ hours a week.
As you would expect, courses vary greatly in their ideologies and
teaching approaches. Disciplines like politics and philosophy are
among the oldest of all Western forms of learning — and with
long histories come an equally long list of schools of thought.
If you want to combine your passion for the humanities and social
sciences with something more applied to boost your career
prospects, there are many double degrees available — you can
couple humanities with law, education, engineering or business,
just to name a few. Many humanities graduates complete a
postgraduate qualification to get that vocational edge.
Where to study
If you’re thinking about choosing a course in this field, you need
to consider the following:
Courses are available at just about every campus in the
country, but even those with the same name differ a great
deal from one campus to another in terms of their focus and
the specialisations offered. This can even be the case within
the same university, so browse carefully.
There is much choice within as well as between courses, so
you don’t stop making decisions on enrolment day.
Once enrolled, you will probably have a lot of spare time. It
can be easy to forget why you’re there.
The loss of contact with practical learning and responsibility
doesn’t work for some students.
This is also a field where it helps to complete an internship or
international exchange to broaden and apply your skills, which
will prove useful when it comes time to look for a job. Most
courses have modest cut-offs and plenty of room for mature age
and other special entrants.
To compare entry difficulty at different institutions, see the ‘How
tough is it to get in?’ tables in Section 4.
There are calls for universities to improve student engagement in
the Asia-Pacific region, with government initiatives such as the
New Colombo Plan (NCP) helping to boost participation and
interaction with neighbouring countries. The NCP provides
scholarships and mobility grants to enable students to study and
undertake internships in more than 30 host locations across the
Indo-Pacific region, including Cambodia, China, Fiji, India,
Indonesia, Japan and Singapore.
Amid some educators’ concerns that the more vocational
‘creative industries’ or communications fields will affect enrolment
numbers in the humanities and social sciences, measures are
being taken to emphasise the value of the generalist humanities
degrees. This has seen universities introduce internship
components, final-year capstone subjects to reinforce the
knowledge learned over the course of the degree, concurrent
language diplomas and breadth subjects.
FOR FURTHER HELP...
To compare the pros and cons of humanities and social
sciences with other fields of study, see the table on page 68
and institution profiles in Section 4.
For more on jobs and careers in this field, see The Good
Careers Guide website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au.
For ratings of postgraduate humanities and social sciences
courses, see The Good Universities Guide website at
GUG 2017.book Page 127 Friday, June 24, 2016 2:39 PM
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