Attending higher education is now more popular and accessible than ever. Universities offer world-class teaching, state-of-the-art resources, and a chance to better yourself socially and academically. From Medicine at Oxford to Contemporary Circus and Physical Theatre at Bath Spa uni, there is no end to the vast array of courses offered at university. But which are the most likely to tickle your fancy? Well to help you out, we have compiled a list of the most popular degrees in the UK.


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Source: Kettering University

As of 2016/17, over 121,000 thousand international students attended a Business and Administrative course. This makes up the largest group of foreign students in the UK.

Having a Business degree can open a lot of doors with it being an internationally recognised programme. It could even take you down the rock and roll route! Mick Jagger holds a Business degree from the famous London School of Economics.

Here are the most popular degrees in Business:

  • Business Administration
  • Finance and Management
  • International Business
  • Banking and Finance
  • International Management
  • Business Analytics

Natural Sciences

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Despite representing only 4.1% of the scientific teams GLOBALLY, 2016 saw British academics having the highest percentage of citations in scientific papers at 15.2%!

It seems that Britain really does rear the best scientists!

Among the Natural Sciences, Biology is the most popular with 23,295 international students seeking a degree in biology-related courses in 2016/17.

Of these programmes, the most popular are:

  • Biology
  • Marine Biology
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Chemistry
  • Physics & Astronomy
  • Earth Science

Engineering and Technology

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Following on, Engineering and Technology programmes in the UK focus on research and equipping students with skills and knowledge required in this career sector. In fact, UK Engineering and Technology courses are the best in the world for preparing students with these skills.

It is no surprise to discover that the UK is becoming a world leader in IT education and for university degrees in Software Engineering and Computer Sciences.

Furtherly, major engineering companies are located in the UK and hold partnerships with UK universities to secure you the best work experience and graduate jobs.

In 2016/17, over 52,000 international students undertook an Engineering degree.

The most popular courses are:

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Aeronautics
  • Bioengineering
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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Source: genesis biologics

Next up, it seems Medicine is one of the most popular degrees in the UK but also one of the most competitive.

The reason for this is due to the plethora of opportunities and experiences students gain from engaging with a Medicine degree. The door is open to jobs such as a surgeon, psychiatrist, GP, and cardiologist. The future prospects of a Medicine degree are endless!

Therefore it is no wonder that a whopping 10,500 international students attended a course related to Medicine or Dentistry in 2016/17. A further 21,500 enrolled on a Medicine-related course.

The most popular Medicine degrees are:

  • Surgery
  • Dentistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Veterinary Surgery
  • Nursing
  • Psychotherapy
  • Biomedicine
  • Pharmacy
  • Medical Biotechnology

Law degree

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Likewise, Law is an extremely well-respected degree, with it having a long and rich tradition in UK universities. This possibly explains its popularity with 23,090 international students in 216/17.

Law is another competitive degree programme to apply to, with these being the most popular:

  • Bachelor of Law
  • Criminology and Law
  • Master of Laws
  • Civil Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Criminal Justice

Social Sciences

social science degrees

Did you know that in 2016/17,  over 42,000 international students attended a Social Science course?

This high number of enrolments will be due to the high quality of academic staff and educational services offered at UK universities in Social Science departments.

Therefore, while STEM courses may be held in high regard for employers, the Social Sciences can give students world knowledge like no other degree programme.

The most popular courses are:

  • Psychology
  • Political Science
  • History
  • Linguistics
  • Anthropology

Sports Science

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Source: Brock University

The popularity in Sports Science courses is steadily increasing. Educated professionals and practitioners are in demand for athletes seeking to improve sports performance. Additionally, experts are needed for sportspersons who are looking after their health.

The UK offers many sports science-related courses, with the most popular being:

  • Sports and Exercise Sciences
  • Sports Science and Physiology
  • Sport & Exercise Nutrition

Media and Communication

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Interest in Media and Communication subject fields is also on the rise due to the increase of media and the importance of media in the 21st century. Jobs in this field are increasing and can be challenging and highly paid.

In fact, the UK houses many globally respected and valued film and TV companies. It provides a hub for media and communications students from all over the world.

Here are the most popular UK degrees in Media and Communication:

  • Journalism
  • Film & TV Studies
  • Screenwriting
  • Digital Media

The Arts

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Source: Pinterest

Following on, creative subjects such as Art and Fashion are growing in popularity. In fact, there were over 30,000 international students undertaking a degree in creative arts and design at UK universities in 2016/17.

Furthermore, UK universities offer world-renowned facilities and services for those wishing to study an art degree.

These are the popular Art degrees in UK universities:

  • Fine Art Painting
  • Graphic Design
  • Fashion Design

Hospitality and Tourism

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Source: thestudentpocketguide

Lastly, Hospitality and Tourism may not be as popular as traditional degrees. However, it still attracts many international students.

Therefore, having a degree in this sector from a UK university can rocket you to managerial roles in the sector.

The most popular degrees in Hospitality and Tourism are:

  • International Hospitality and Tourism Management
  • Hospitality and Tourism Marketing

Now you know what to study, you need to know where to study. So, whether you are looking for an internationally diverse student population, the best party uni, or if you’d like to go to a Russell Group, we’ve got all the info you need. 

*Information from

Last Updated on December 20, 2023