Coursework Based Degree Courses

Once you’ve made it to uni, it’s refreshing to find how the majority of courses allow you to shape your own degree through module choices. Depending on which course you’re doing, you may only have a couple of optional modules, or it could be entirely based on your choices.

But how do you go about making these choices? Do you go for modules with the most exciting content? With a reasonable number of contact hours with lecturers? Or maybe on the way they’re assessed?

There’s a lot of opinion among students showing preference towards exam-based or coursework-based modules. So here are our latest pros and cons to see if exams may be the route for you…


  • In the examination environment, many people find that they work well under the pressure. With only a couple of hours to complete the paper, you have no choice but to focus and get on with it. On the other hand, if you’ve opted for coursework there’s less of a time pressure and many can find it hard to knuckle-down.
  • Exams are reliant on storing a lot of knowledge in your brain. If you’ve got a great memory then you can probably use it in your favour when you need to put pen to paper. Reeling out fact after fact could set you above the rest.

As you have much less time to proof and perfect your work in an exam, there’s less pressure to produce a flawless piece of work compared to a coursework essay where you’ve had three weeks to perfect your paper.


  • Exams aren’t for everyone. One of the biggest criticisms of using exams as a form of assessment is that the pressure can crumble even the most capable of candidates. Exams are quite an intense experience, and not everyone can cope with pre-exam pressure, time constraints, and not to mention that annoying pen-clicker who gets on everyone’s nerves.
  • If your memory isn’t your strong point, exams can be a stressful experience. Coursework gives students the opportunity to take their time and use other resources to aid their work.
  • You’ve revised for weeks… your room is covered in post-it notes… but what happens if on the day you completely misread the question?!

Which ever modules you choose, at Newcastle University we provide award winning support for our students, from academic tutors to pastoral care from the Student Support teams.

Got a question? just ask us

In business? No, outside of degree level apprenticeships - because that's not the point of degrees planning to enter that field. Businesses can teach almost anyone how to do the job. An academic degree course lets them select those they need to spend the least time and money doing so, not because they have prior knowledge, but because their academic background is an indication that they can learn new material quickly and apply it to unfamiliar problems.

If you want to work in business but don't want to do a formal academic degree course - then don't do such a degree. Just look for relevant positions and apprenticeships, and work your way up from there. A degree is nothing more than a tickbox exercise in the business world and if you're moving internally can be overlooked as a "requirement" not infrequently. All you do is potentially weaken you position (by doing a course which is necessarily exam based, and doing poorly in exams), as well as cheapen the relative value of a degree anyway - more people need to be working and moving into these positions that don't require a degree, not the other way around. There are only a handful of areas you can't go into without a degree formally in the business world, such as investment banking (although I believe there are a few schemes that allow you to work into that even with just excellent A-levels, so...) but I assure IBanking roles want to see you do a primarily, if not wholly, academic degree from an academically rigorous institution more than any kind of applied experience or coursework.

In other fields though, certainly - most visual arts and many performing arts courses are primarily based on studio/production work, although inevitably there will be some history and theory modules which will be exam based. They may also include business or management related modules as options, although these will probably be at least 50% exam based.

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