Photo: Dinuraj K / Flickr

Battle of the subjects: which faculty wins?

Almost two thirds of students think Arts is the easiest faculty at Warwick, according to a Boar survey of 156 students. Warwick’s Arts faculty includes Film, English, Classics and History.

Almost half of the students polled thought Film and Television Studies was the easiest subject overall.

On the flip side, subjects from the Medical and Science faculties, including Chemistry, Engineering and Mathematics were voted the hardest.

Charlotte Newbury, a third-year English and Creative Writing student, responded: “The results show a tendency to subscribe to a stereotype of arts students being ‘lazy’, which is outdated and invalidates the hard work done by those students.”

Is History really the hardest Arts subject…?

Roughly a third of students rated History as the hardest Arts subject, with Modern Languages and Culture a close second place.

However, Film and Television Studies has higher entry requirements than other Arts subjects, like History of Art.

English Literature and History at the University of Warwick were recently voted 22nd best in the UK in their respective subjects by the QS World Rankings – the top ranked departments at the university.

The English department in particular has been hailed as the best for research into the subject by the Research Excellence Framework.

Despite high rankings and high entry requirements, numerous comments were made on the apparent level of ease of Arts subjects; one student even stated: “Arts are a joke”.

In response to this, Gerard Jones, an English Literature finalist, said: “Subject snobbery occurs all the time at university.

“Fewer contact hours does not equal less work – believe me when I say 5,000 word essays are no walk in the park.”

6 in 10 believe Psychology is the easiest Science

None of the Science students polled rated their faculty poorly. Approximately half of those polled rated the faculty 4/5, with a further third of Science students giving the faculty full marks.

Arts and Social Sciences were ranked lower on average by students studying those subjects.

Mathematics is the most difficult Science subject at Warwick according to 44% of students polled. The Science subject in second place was Physics, at 18% of votes, and Chemistry in third.

However, Psychology was rated as the easiest Science subject by far, at 60%, followed by Life Sciences at just under 20%.

Second-year Psychology student Aisha Zahid commented: “It’s easy to knock subjects you don’t take but dubbing any as ‘easy’ is unfair.

“Psychology itself incorporates a lot more than people realise, including quite a bit of neuroscience, statistics, philosophy and history. So yes, there’s quite a lot of facts, figures and theories we have to cram into our heads.”

Social Sciences rated as “average to good”

The majority of students view Economics (33.3%), Law (32.7%) and Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) (22.4%) as the hardest subjects in Social Sciences. Both Economics and PPE require A*AA in entry requirements, supporting their place as more difficult subjects.

Meanwhile, Sociology (57.1%) is viewed as the easiest, followed by subjects offered at Warwick Business School (19.2%) and Philosophy (15.4%).

As with Arts subjects, Social Sciences at Warwick are generally regarded highly on a global scale: even subjects ranked poorly by Warwick students are among the top 50 in their field in the QS 2016 Rankings.

Business and Management Studies is 25th in the world for its subject, and Sociology – overwhelmingly voted as the easiest Social Science – is 33rd.

Gemma Turner, a Sociology finalist, responded to the ranking, commenting: “I think it’s very hard to make judgements on courses when you’re not studying it. I’m not saying it isn’t the easiest, but I think a lot of people make judgements when there is a big jump in difficulty at any subject at university!”

Almost 90% of students happy with degree choice 

A massive 87.8% of those polled said they were happy with their degree, but 5.8% felt unhappy with their chosen subject, and 6.4% were unsure.

If students could change subjects, many would choose Social Sciences and Arts over Science and the Medical School subjects . The top three most popular alternatives for students were History, PPE and Law.

One student left an anonymous comment on the survey identifying technology as a factor in some subjects’ reputation over others: “There’s such a disparity between Faculties. Some departments are organised and amazing, others not so much. No idea why some things like Lecture Capture aren’t standardised across the University.”

Another student noted: “Arts subjects are easier to get a 2.1 in than sciences, but [are] harder to get a first in.”

A Freedom of Information request by the Boar earlier this year revealed that 95% of Arts students at Warwick get a 2:1 or higher in their degree, compared with 80% in Sciences.

I response to the survey, a student commented: “They’re all awesome in their own way. Don’t let people’s assumptions of your subject and it’s worth get in the way!”

If you have any thoughts on this, get involved and tweet us @BoarNews using #SubjectSurvey!


Infographic by Lily Pickard


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