The Student Room Group
Student at University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh

Outside subject(s) in 1st and 2nd year *post here with questions*

Hi,

So in a similar sort of style to the thread relating to accommodation, I decided that it might be a good idea to make a thread where all of the questions relating to choosing outside courses can go. People are asking the same thing again and again, and there is some really good advice and help being given by the current students, so if we keep it all together then its easier for everyone concerned.

I have to choose an outside subject?

In general, yes. Unless you're studying something "special" such as medicine, education, vet sci etc you will have to take subjects other than the ones you've applied for in the first two years. This is because the Scottish education system is really flexible and allows you to change your degree at any point in years one and two.

In theory you can take any course which is offered by the university, but there are obviously timetable and numbers restrictions meaning some courses are only really open to students who applied for them in the first place via UCAS (eg: English Lit) but even here there are usually a couple of places available and these spaces are filled by a lottery style of allocation at the end of freshers week.

How many credits?

Each subject is generally worth 40 credits over the academic year and students have to take 120 credits per year. This means if you've applied for single honours (eg: MA French) you need to take an additional 80 credits each year, which usually works out as 2 subjects. If you've applied for joint honours (eg: MA French and English Lit) you have already used 80 credits and need to take another 40, so 1 course.

A small minority of courses require students to take more than the usual 40 credits to progress to second year. For MA History, for example, 80 history credits are required so it is the equivalent of two full year slots rather than the usual one per subject. However, there are 15 possible courses to chose from to make up the 80 credits so there is still a lot of choice.

There is an option to take more than 120 credits each year, but this is fairly unusual and decided on a case by case basis. If you are interested in taking more then you have to speak to your Director of Studies (DoS) when you meet in freshers week.

How can I find out what courses are mandatory for my degree?

First, you need to go here and find out the degree regulations for your course. At the top, it should say 'degree regulations and programmes of study 2011-2012'. If it does not say 11-12, use this link instead and then click on 'browse DPTs' which is in the list on the right hand side of the screen. It will take you to the same place as the original link.

If you're doing joint honours, your school will generally be the first subject in your course name (eg: MA Geography and Politics is in the School of GeoSciences).

So taking Geog and Politics as an example, you see that there are 80 credits which are mandatory. 2 x 20 credits for Geog and 2 x 20 credits for Politics. Then there will be 40 credits spare for something else.

How can I find out which courses I can take to make up the credits?

Now you know how many spare credits you've got, you can go and look at the timetable here. Although this is the 11-12 timetable, it i fairly similar each academic year so it can be used as a pretty accurate rough guide. Usually, the lecture room allocations stay the same too as they will either be in the school's own buildings or for courses with a large student intake, in one of the big lecture theatres and there are only so many available.

First of all, find the courses which are listed as mandatory on the DRPS. Then select additional courses using the instuctions here:

How to use timetab

Pick a college, so say HSS, and then it shows you all of the subjects available for that college in the subject box. Basically if you search by college, then you get all the courses, if by school, then you get all of the courses in that school (so, SPS for example) or by subject so then you'd just get the courses in History.

* Make sure you've got it set to level 1 (it does this by default) then full year courses.
* If the course is called English Lit 1A it means it is a first year course in semester one.
* If it is called English Lit 1B it is a first year course in semster two.
* If it just says 1 then it lasts the entire year.
* In languages, if it says 1A this is for beginners and if it says 1B this is for people who have Higher or A levels in it already.

Then they all come up in the small box to the bottom left of the screen. To add one to your timetable, just select it. There may be a pop up window giving you information about 1st meetings, order of selection if it is over subscribed etc and then perhaps pre requisites. You don't really need to pay attention to them now if it is just information about first meetings, although you may want to read the over subscription allocation or other information depending on your situation. Don't worry if you do not understand what it means - ask in this thread and we'll help you, or ask your Director of Studies when you arrive in Edinburgh.

You will know if there is a timetable clash because it will tell you that it isn't a possible combination. However, be aware that some courses (mainly science) input all of their possible tutorial/lab slots into time tab but you may only be obliged to attend one of these sessions rather than all of them. You can find more information on whether this applies to you by looking on the information for current undergraduate students on your school's website (eg: www.ppls.ed.ac.uk is the website for the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences)

To create your timetable, go to the top right hand corner of the screen where it says 'output' with 'print name: anonymous'. You don't need to change anything here, just click 'open in a new window' and it will create a timetable for each semester.

How do I sign up for the extra subjects?

This is done in freshers week when you meet your DoS. There will be a full meeting of your entire school where you'll be told who your DoS is along with other important information such as purchasing of books or tutorial sign up sheets. Here, you will be asked to make an appointment with your DoS. Then when you go to your appointment you'll be asked which additional subjects you'd like to do. This is where you decide and discuss options, you do not have to do anything before then. If there are other arrangements in place for your course, this will be communicated to you before you arrive in Edinburgh.

Is course X good or bad?

Look on the course reviewer here which is a list of all of the current courses offered for first years, with reviews from students over the last few years. Bear in mind some subjects might have drastically changed the content since the review was written. Some subjects are more complete than others.
(edited 12 years ago)

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Reply 1
That's a great post.

I'll be starting with MolBio (second year). Would you recommend sticking to the subject area or exploring different ones? Are there any other restrictions as to what outside subject one can choose (besides timetable clashes of course)?
Student at University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
Violettes
That's a great post.

I'll be starting with MolBio (second year). Would you recommend sticking to the subject area or exploring different ones? Are there any other restrictions as to what outside subject one can choose (besides timetable clashes of course)?


Most biology students seem to be sticking with six biology courses on second year, as there's such a range of options withing biological sciences itself. You'll have to take at leas 60 credits worth of biology courses (three), but I'd say it's worthwhile taking more to give you breadth of knowledge around the subject and more options for later years etc. Something like a language probably wouldn't be a problem as an outside course, and some courses from the School of Geosciences are usually offered as outside courses for bio students because ecology is taught by both schools so there naturally some overlapping. Your DoS (Director of Studies) is more than likely to tell you to take six bio courses. And as your doing direct entry, it probably also puts some limitations to your choices.

Also, on a totally unrelated note: anyone ever come across unusual subject combinations? I knew a guy who took Ancient Greek History as an outside course on his first year. His degree subject was Civil Engineering.
Just to be clear, since i am doing physical education this doesnt apply to me because it already counts for 120 credits?
Reply 4
Andy_libertine
Just to be clear, since i am doing physical education this doesnt apply to me because it already counts for 120 credits?


correct, you're part of the "special" degree people so don't take anything else :smile:
Reply 5
elisabethbridge
Most biology students seem to be sticking with six biology courses on second year, as there's such a range of options withing biological sciences itself. You'll have to take at leas 60 credits worth of biology courses (three), but I'd say it's worthwhile taking more to give you breadth of knowledge around the subject and more options for later years etc. Something like a language probably wouldn't be a problem as an outside course, and some courses from the School of Geosciences are usually offered as outside courses for bio students because ecology is taught by both schools so there naturally some overlapping. Your DoS (Director of Studies) is more than likely to tell you to take six bio courses. And as your doing direct entry, it probably also puts some limitations to your choices.

Also, on a totally unrelated note: anyone ever come across unusual subject combinations? I knew a guy who took Ancient Greek History as an outside course on his first year. His degree subject was Civil Engineering.



Always wanted to have a cool combo like your friend's, but oh well. Thanks :-)
Reply 6
I'm doing Politics (if I meet my offer :tongue:), and I was wondering something: If I take law courses in my first 2 years, could I then change to a law degree at the start of my third year?

I read something about this, but it seems a little bit too good to be true.
Reply 7
maskerade
I'm doing Politics (if I meet my offer :tongue:), and I was wondering something: If I take law courses in my first 2 years, could I then change to a law degree at the start of my third year?

I read something about this, but it seems a little bit too good to be true.


In theory yes but I don't think you'd manage to get a place on all of the Law courses, and you can only transfer your degree to a subject if you have taken all of the mandatory courses by the end of 2nd year. There are 6 Law courses which have to be taken in first year, plus your 2 politics ones and I highly doubt there would be spaces for anyone who wasn't already signed up for the Law course via UCAS to sign up for all of them because the degree is so so so popular in the first place. I guess you could always speak to your DOS at the start of term and see what they say, but I wouldn't have thought this was possible simply because of the sheer initial popularity of the course via UCAS applications.

Lots of people take criminology or international law as their outside courses though with no problems.
Reply 8
oxymoronic
In theory yes but I don't think you'd manage to get a place on all of the Law courses, and you can only transfer your degree to a subject if you have taken all of the mandatory courses by the end of 2nd year. There are 6 Law courses which have to be taken in first year, plus your 2 politics ones and I highly doubt there would be spaces for anyone who wasn't already signed up for the Law course via UCAS to sign up for all of them because the degree is so so so popular in the first place. I guess you could always speak to your DOS at the start of term and see what they say, but I wouldn't have thought this was possible simply because of the sheer initial popularity of the course via UCAS applications.

Lots of people take criminology or international law as their outside courses though with no problems.


Just to expand slightly - as far as I know, if maskerade is studying Law and Politics then until the end of second year you can revert to a 'pure' LLB Law course. If however Maskerade is studying for an MA in Politics with electives in Law then conversion at the end of second year will probably not be possible. It would also depend on the Law subjects you elect to study. Law is part of HSS as a college but has a seperate Law School within this. But to be sure best check with your DOS/SRA etc.

Maskerade - What are your motivations for studying Law courses? If you intend to practise Law in England then it will take the same time to convert with a Scots LLB in Law or MA in politics.

Edit: Introduction to the EU is also taken by many non Law students. See here for details of courses: http://www.law.ed.ac.uk/
Reply 9
I am planning to study Biochemistry, but I would also like to take Astronomy. Can I take both of the subjects? :biggrin:
Reply 10
Aquarian
I am planning to study Biochemistry, but I would also like to take Astronomy. Can I take both of the subjects? :biggrin:


Yeah, if you follow the instructions I've written, you will see that timetab shows a clash between Environmental and Communitry Biology and the Astronomy course in semester 2, but as ECB is a choice module (you get a choice of 5 and you pick 2) as long as you didn't choose this one and selected 2 others you could also take astronomy.

http://www.drps.ed.ac.uk/08-09/dpts/SCE_FINAL/001.html
Reply 11
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! :frown: :frown: :frown:

I've just been on the TimeTab thingy and English Language and German clash! :frown: :frown: :frown:

Does this mean I absolutely won't be able to do English Language?! I've been really excited about doing that. :frown:
Is the LLB by itself 'special' or do I need to take other subjects?
kjc_us
Does this mean I absolutely won't be able to do English Language?! I've been really excited about doing that. :frown:

It's timetab for last year so there's the minimalist of chances that it'll change for next year - but that's very unlikely.

Or you could take it when you're in second year.

AhaShakeHeartbreak
Is the LLB by itself 'special' or do I need to take other subjects?

See here. You get 40 credits for outside in your first year and then it's law all the way. But there are Law modules that you can pick to fill the credits if you want to.
Any suggestions for what i should take along with a business studies and accountancy degree?

cheers :smile:
Reply 15
AhaShakeHeartbreak
Is the LLB by itself 'special' or do I need to take other subjects?


As artorscience? mentioned, 40 credits outside courses in year one. Law students studying 'pure' Law LLB tend to opt for Civil Law (Roman Law), Criminology or International Law. If you do opt for something outwith the Law School, like Philosophy for instance, be wary of timetable clashes, which your Director of Studies should be able to advise on.

If you do apply for joint Hons however (i.e. Law plus a language) you can revert to the pure LLB (Law only) up until the end of second year.

Some of the Law courses at Hons (years three and four) also stray into non-Law territory - Gender and Justice (Feminism or gender studies), Civil Law (History), Constitutional Law (Politics) or Jurisprudence (Philosophy) etc, but much of this is explained in the course synopsis given in the Honours prospectus at the end of second year - as Hons study is less fact of Law and more opinion based, (or academic reasoning as opposed to the practice of Law) for many subjects.

Just so you know that the four year degree won't always be Law X is represented by precedent Y, only to be later overturned by precedent Z. Much of what you study will involve elements of History or Politics etc, as Law doesn't exist in a vacuum.

Good luck.
Reply 16
don't do anything to do with politics, their courses are rubbish in 1st and 2nd year. do anthropology, its immensely popular as an outside for a reason.

course reviewer on the eusa.ed.ac.uk union website is a great resource.

oh yeah, don't trust timetab, sometimes it goes weird (i think the reg feed it crack), just go on drps.ed.ac.uk , find the courses you plan to take and write down the lecture times. i know it's a bit primitive but it's better than timetab!
Wow Lukeyboy, you sure know how to offer helpful and constructive advice. Now go away please.
Reply 18
i'm just having fun! lighten up!

if you'd taken politics you'd know what i meant!

and the course reviewers IS a fantastic resource, though slightly under used at the moment. why don't you head over and fill some in headlessian?
lukeyboy
i'm just having fun! lighten up!

if you'd taken politics you'd know what i meant!

and the course reviewers IS a fantastic resource, though slightly under used at the moment. why don't you head over and fill some in headlessian?


Thats the second time you've insulted politics and now im worried because im doing the MA International Relations.

Whats wrong with politics at Edinburgh? :confused:

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