So you’ve got the facts about a USyd Arts degree but looking for some opinion on what it’s really like?
Meet Brooklyn, a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) graduate at the University of Sydney!
We picked her brain to find out what people really think about studying a Bachelor of Arts at USyd.
Let’s dive in!
Why should you study an Arts degree at USYD?
An Arts degree is also incredibly flexible, you’re able to try lots of different units to really figure out what you like. You also have the option of further study after you do an Arts degree to specialise even further.
On top of that, USyd is one of the most prestigious universities in Australia to study an Arts degree, ranking 3rd nationally and 22nd internationally!
Top 3 Pros of an Arts degree
#1: There’s No Right or Wrong Answer
One of the best things about an Arts degree at USyd is how open your lecturers and tutors are to a vast array of opinions and perspectives. “There’s rarely a right or wrong answer in the classroom, as long as you can back up your argument with evidence,” said Brooklyn.
This builds your skills in critical thought and analysis, as well as encourages independent learning. The goal of an Arts degree is not to spoon feed you information but rather encourage you to form your own thoughts, arguments and opinions.
#2: You Do What You Love Every Day
“Studying an Arts degree means you study your passion every day,” said Brooklyn.
With such a wide range of majors and electives from Linguistics, English and Sociology to Ancient Greek, Gender Studies and Film Studies, you’re bound to find a major that you love to study.
#3: The Passionate Staff
The lecturers and tutors are incredibly kind towards students and are passionate about their subjects. At uni you can come across some staff who can make you feel intimidated by introducing the unit with “half the class will fail this subject” (especially in science degrees), but this couldn’t be further from the truth in an Arts degree at USyd.
“The staff genuinely want you to enjoy the learning experience and this becomes quite apparent once you sit in on an engaging lecture or stimulating tutorial. They really care about you and want to help you as much as humanly possible — they will give up so much of their time to do that,” said Brooklyn.
Top 3 Cons of an Arts degree
#1: No Job Direction
“The worst thing about a USyd Arts degree is that there is little to no job direction,” said Brooklyn. There are no required internship units for Arts and there is no assistance in helping you progress into a career.
“You finish the degree and that’s basically it — job prospects and direction aren’t really integrated into the classes. It’s not focused on career progression like other degrees at uni such as the Business faculty,” she added.
#2: Complex and Long Readings
One of the worst (but most important) aspects of a USyd Arts degree are the readings. They can be quite dense readings which you might have to read over a few times before you even grasp the basics of what it’s trying to say!
“Many of these theories and concepts were written a hundred or so years ago so trying to understand them can be difficult. They can also be quite long in length, anywhere from an entire book to 30-50 odd pages of scholarly readings. Your best bet is to start your readings early and be armed with a highlighter!”
#3: Difficulty Making Friends
As there are no core units in an Arts degree, there’s no cohort that you really ‘grow up’ with.
“You’ll find that most subjects are almost like electives and one person you may get along with in one unit, you’ll never see again,” she said. This can make it difficult to make friendships unless you invest time in making friends outside of the classroom.
“I mainly regret not joining more societies related to the humanities — I probably would have made a lot more friends that way. So, moral of the story, find your niche and join a society where you can make friends because they’ll share the same interests as you!”
What do you wish you had known before starting the degree?
#1: Always Do Your Readings
“I wish I knew how many readings there were going to be! I wish that before my first semester I’d done some of the readings because I always started them late so I was a bit behind throughout the semester.”
So, don’t wait and get a move on with your readings! It’s also where you’re going to learn about key concepts and theory in-depth that you’ll have to write about later!
#2: Join a Society or Pick up an Extra-Curricular Activity
In terms of making friends in an Arts degree, Brooklyn says not to expect it to happen too easily. “You should be proactive about it!”
“Try joining some sort of extra-curricular activity or society that you have an interest in or make time outside of the classroom to grab a coffee with someone,” she recommends.
What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities?
#1: Breadth of Majors
The breadth of the things you can study with USyd Arts is particularly impressive. You can study any of the 50+ majors available (and that’s just within the Arts faculty)! You can also choose majors from a ‘shared pool’, which just means you can sometimes select majors from other faculties such as Science or Business.
“They have a very strong Classics department so there are a lot of things you can study in Latin, Greek and English Literature. I took history in my early years and I did a unit called something along the lines of Greek and Roman mythology which was one of the most fun subjects I’ve ever done,” said Brooklyn.
#2: Large Library
Believe it or not, USyd has 12 libraries, that’s right, 12! Some include the main library, Fisher library, as well as Law library, Sci-Tech library, the Conservatorium library and more! There are books that are centuries old and incredibly valuable in the Rare Books Section, such as an annotated first edition of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton. Their online database also hosts thousands of e-resources, so you don’t even have to go into the library!
Brooklyn added, “Their library is really strong — I couldn’t have studied Old Norse at another university. Old Norse was my Honours focus and USyd had a lot of old books which I couldn’t have accessed at other universities.”
#3: Global Reputation
As we mentioned earlier, USyd Arts is particularly prestigious as a result of the incredible faculty which includes lecturers that are at the forefront of their respective research areas. It’s no surprise it ranks 3rd in Australia and 22nd in the world, beating out King’s College London, University of Pennsylvania, and even Brown!
“There’s also a really passionate department which is interested in their subjects. I would tell anybody who wants to do Arts to go to USyd — it’s definitely the best university to study Arts. There are so many interesting subjects on offer,” recommends Brooklyn.
What inspired you to choose this degree?
Brooklyn started off in a double degree of Arts and Education, “I didn’t choose an Arts degree actually, I chose an Education degree because I thought becoming an English teacher was what I was going to do with my life.”
“I started doing my subjects and found that my Arts components of my Education degree were so interesting and I thought, ‘Why am I wasting my time doing the Education units when I could just do the Arts units?’ I enjoyed the content of Arts units so much that my focus for postgrad became in academia in the Arts as a possible career, rather than high school teaching,” and the rest was history!
What are the possible career paths?
Most people regard academia as the main career path for an Arts graduate, which is true, but there are many other career paths! There are definitely jobs in academia as a lecturer, tutor or researcher but they tend to be quite competitive and sometimes short term, so they aren’t too stable.
Depending on your major you could be anything from a sociologist, work in publishing, journalism or the media, become an anthropologist, be a museum or gallery curator, translator, social policy advisor, historian, film director, sound engineer or psychologist!
Momoko Metham is currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Art of Smart Education, having previously held roles as a Digital Content Coordinator in 2018 and an Academic Tutor and Mentor since 2017. She is currently in her final year of a Media and Communications degree at the University of Sydney with a double major in Marketing and Spanish and Latin American Studies. Momoko’s writing has been published in Archer Magazine, Dynamic Business and Honi Soit and she was the General Editor of the ARNA Literary Journal in 2019.