What’s it like studying Liberal Arts

Amy Nugent

Choosing my degree

I remember when I applied for Durham’s Liberal Arts degree, I was both extremely excited at the idea of getting the flexible programme I had dreamed of, and also nervous about balancing all my subjects. While all my peers were dedicating themselves to becoming scholars in only one subject, I was choosing three different ones to split my time over. I was at first uncertain – would my lectures clash? Would my different departments understand my commitments? Would I learn enough about each of my subjects to still enjoy them? And how on earth was I going to turn in all my assignments!

After investigating the vast selection of modules I was able to take across a range of departments, in my first year I settled on taking modules in English Literature as well as Management and Marketing (Business), along with a module in French with the Centre of Foreign Language Study (which offers modules in a range of levels of languages for students of any course to take)! Liberal Arts students can study between 2 and 4 different subjects, and I was very happy with my mix. As someone who has always enjoyed the variety, I was excited to start my course, happy that I could tailor it to my interests rather than having to study excessive amounts of compulsory modules. After inputting my modules into the timetable checker, I knew I was good to go.

A variety of modules

When I arrived at Durham, having researched my reading lists, and in the midst of hunting for second-hand textbooks, I was really looking forward to my combination, relieved that I could find a degree that let me explore my interests rather than funnelling me into one discipline. Though nobody in my corridor took Liberal Arts (and surprisingly, a few people didn’t even realise it was a course here!), many of them would be attending the same lectures and tutorials as me. I soon met plenty of other Liberal Arts students through induction events, even though everyone was taking advantage of their ability to choose, so nobody seemed to be studying exactly the same combination!

Due to the combination I had selected, my contact hours varied pretty much from week to week. All meticulously organised in my online timetable, I was never left wondering where I had to be and when, and I experienced a variety of lectures, workshops, language labs, tutorials and seminars. One of my favourite parts was meeting different people across my disciplines. It is really lovely to grow familiar with so many different faces because of how I study across departments, which has also helped me to make loads of new friends here.

In terms of workload, I have found myself to be as busy as any other student, but not overburdened. Due to the variety, my assignments come in many different formats, from presentations to essays to reports. For me, being able to switch up what I am studying in a day and the kinds of assignments I am working on helps me to prevent burnout or becoming bored with my subjects. Much like my friends who study only one subject, sometimes these deadlines are spaced out, and sometimes they hit in a row. You can read about how I manage my assignments in my blog ‘Completing Assignments – a day in the life of a Liberal Arts student’.

Books books books!

It’s very flexible

Another great thing about being a Liberal Arts student is flexibility. Durham offers so many great modules that might not be on your radar when applying to university. I have first-hand experience with this. After meeting another student in my second term and hearing them praise the Visual Arts and Film department, I was immediately curious. After researching the modules they offered and sending some emails to the department to explore some further details, I was excited to start something new for my second year. Now I take modules in English Literature, Management and Marketing (Business), and Visual Arts and Film. I have loved the change and found myself supported by my new department. I am so grateful that as a Liberal Arts student, I am able to be driven by my passions, and have access to so many different departments. I am very lucky to get so much choice!

I couldn’t recommend this degree enough! For anyone who wants breadth or variety in their studies, or for those who are passionate about more than one subject, I would highly recommend you check out this degree. Don’t be afraid to click through the different departments’ modules – you may be surprised at how many amazing things they have to offer!

Discover more

About the Liberal Arts department here

About Durham’s Liberal Arts degree

About the different modules, Durham University offers here

Create your own personalised prospectus here

Follow our students on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube

Amy Nugent


Hi, I’m Amy and here at Durham I study Liberal Arts at Grey College. In my spare time I can be found dancing like there’s nobody watching, getting stuck into my latest art project, or writing kooky stories in one of Durham's many beautiful spots.


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