Recently, Cambridge University publically announced that they are looking for someone with the necessary qualifications (including a high 2.1 degree in a discipline such as Physics or Chemistry, and with experience in experimental investigations) to undertake a PhD in Chocolate. The course would entail investigating how chocolate is able to remain solid in warm climates when its melting point is so close to the human body’s, and the university is so eager for someone to carry out the study that they are willing to pay the lucky candidate. The finer details may take some of the excitement out of it, but a degree in Chocolate is incredibly unique nonetheless, and it is on that note that I have compiled together a list of the ten quirkiest degrees available to students in universities across the UK and America:

  1. Puppetry: Those of you interested in drama may not have explored this aspect of the theatre, but the art of Puppetry actually seems to be a popular course internationally. Offered at the University of London, as well as a few universities across the USA, Puppetry explores everything from making puppets to the various ways in which puppets can be used in performance. The three year course may not be for everyone, but if you’re interested in taking your love for The Muppets further, this may be something to look into.
  2. Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ on T.V Shows: If you like watching shows like Judge Judy, Jeremy Kyle or Jerry Springer this may be perfect for you. Taught at the University of California, the course examines the way in which on-screen audiences make judgements about the people on the shows, through an analysis of their reactions in relation to societal and moral conceptions and constructions of right and wrong. Ideal for those who have an interest in psychology, sociology and, of course, daytime television.
  3. Queer Musicology: Taught at UCLA from the 1990s, this course is based around the idea that music sounds different based on the sexual preference of the composer, artist and/or the listener.  Constructed largely on the work of Philip Brett and his book ‘Queering the Pitch: the Gay and Lesbian Musicology’, students can expect to study music in an entirely different way, and out of the range of musicology courses UCLA has to offer, this one is certainly unique.
  4. Brewing and Distilling: Taught at the Heroit-Watt University in Edinburgh, this degree seems almost tailor-made for students. If you’re passionate about beer and ale then this may be something to look into. Exploring everything from the malting process to distilling industries, this course offers the most in-depth education possible in everything to do with brewing and distilling beer.


    If Ale is your thing, then why not learn to Brew at Uni?

  5. Maple Syrup: For those with a sweet tooth, Alfred University in New York offers a course dedicated entirely to maple syrup; ‘Maple Syrup – the Real Thing’. Based on a mixture of practical work (testing various recipes) and theory (exploring how the method of making maple syrup has not changed very much from the methods used by the Native Americans), this degree is definitely one of the most specialist available.
  6. The Simpsons and Philosophy: If you’re obsessed with The Simpsons and want to take your love for the show further then this degree may be perfect for you. Taught at the University of California at Berkeley, students can expect to explore the show as they never have before, by scrutinising every aspect of it, from the construction of Springfield as a community to what Marge’s hairstyle says about women in society, through the eyes of philosophers such as Plato and Nietzsche.
  7. The Phallus: It’s difficult to name a demographic for this degree, but if you’re intrigued by a certain aspect of the male anatomy then this may be for you. The Occidental College has constructed a course which explores a range of historical interpretations and attitudes towards the phallus, as well as analysing it in relation to stereotypical opinions involving race, gender, ethnicity and sexuality.
  8. Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame:  Run by a professor at the University of South Carolina who, by his own admission, has been to see Gaga live 30 times, this course is filled with anything and everything to do with one of the most successful and controversial musicians of the decade. Exploring her rise to fame and the various reasons surrounding her success, as well as all of the criticism, this degree is definitely one for those with a passion for the twenty-eight year old.
  9. Philosophy and Star Trek: Georgetown University offers a unique course that is every sci-fi fan’s dream – Philosophy and Star Trek is the perfect blend of an ancient discipline and a well-loved show. Not only will students have the opportunity to explore multiple philosophical theories, but the key part of the class is analysing how these theories fit into the television series, with a particular focus on time travel.
  10. Underwater Basket Weaving: Another popular degree offered at a range of universities across America such as the University of California, but definitely one of the stranger ones available. Those who choose to undertake studying this course will become experts in the art of crafting these baskets by letting them soak in water, but recently the term ‘underwater basket weaving’ has come to refer to a worthless degree, so I think it’s safe to say it’s for more of a refined taste.


About the author

Avni Bhagwan

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Third year History student from London with an unhealthy obsession with penguins :)