The UK’s most popular uni courses


The applications have closed and the waiting game is ON. If you’ve applied for university through UCAS, chances are you’re sitting nervously waiting to see if your chosen institutions want to make an offer – and if you’ve applied for certain courses, the pressure’s going to be even higher.

Last year, a staggering 718,480 people applied through UCAS for college and university places in the UK, making 2015 a record year for applications – that’s nearly the populations of Edinburgh and Dundee combined. Of those applicants, an impressive 532,265 gained places on some of the country’s 37,000 undergraduate university courses.

Some of the most-applied-to universities were the University of St Andrews, the University of Cambridge and the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London.

Each year when applications close and results day is dawning, UCAS release the figures of applicants for each degree. Of those nearly 40,000 courses, there are clear front runners when it comes to popularity. Here are the UK’s top 10 courses based on the number of applications each receives.

Business studies

Including business management and admin studies, business studies courses are undoubtedly the most popular in the UK with over 280,000 applicants each year for the past two years. Although a business degree might sound quite boring to some, they have some of the highest graduate employment rates in the UK which could explain why they’re so in demand.


The number of people applying for a place on a nursing degree has been on a steady rise since 2009 when it was announced that all new nurses must have a degree starting from 2013. Just after this came into play in 2014, there was a huge 238,000 applications submitted through UCAS for nursing degrees.

Creative Arts and Design

Creative arts and design courses cover a wide range of subjects from fashion design to fine art to animation. This banner of degrees pulls in around 200,000 applications each year and is one of the most searched subjects on The Telegraph’s University Course Finder tool.

Social studies

Just like creative arts courses, social studies encompass more than one subject with the most popular being psychology, criminology and social work. Although this selection of subjects remains one of the most in demand in the UK, the number of people interested in how society and people work has been falling in the past few years.


The reality of studying law might not match up to what you see on Suits, but like business studies, law degrees have one of the highest graduate employment rates in the UK, making it a tough but attractive choice to over 103,000 people who applied through UCAS in 2014.


The UK is home to three of the top 10 engineering universities in the world making it no surprise that it’s one of country’s favourites. The number of applicants for engineering courses has been steadily rising over the past few years along with the rise of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduate job oppertunites.

Computer science

Job opportunities when you have a degree in computer science range from things that sound quite boring like a systems developer to the much more exciting games programmer. Over 100 universities in the UK teach this course so it’s no wonder the number of applicants is so high, reaching over 97,000 in 2014.


Education degrees continually appear in top 10 lists for the UK’s most popular courses. The ninth most applied for subject in 2015 through UCAS encompasses everything from early education to teaching degrees and comes with good prospects – although gaining permanent work as a teacher in Scotland can be challenging.

Physical sciences

When you see the word ‘physical’ you might think that this degree involves sport but physical sciences is the study of subjects like physics, chemistry, astronomy and geology. The number of applicants applying to these courses has risen over the past few years making the number of applicants in 2014 over 100,000.


Around 40,000 students study history each year at universities across the UK. The study of the world’s past was the eighth most applied for course of 2015 through UCAS with jobs when you graduate ranging from a secondary school teacher, if you’re willing to do a teaching post-grad, to an archaeologist. Apparently old stuff is cooler than you thought!

Although these are the most in demand courses in the UK, it’s worth noting that law, business studies, creative arts and design, engineering and computer sciences also have some of the highest drop-out rates of courses offered in the UK.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *