Birmingham City University recently got a lot of rather tongue in cheek press for launching a new Social Media MA degree. Although the press seems fair at first glance, I mean don’t we all know Facebook fluently by now? Take a second to think about the effect that humble Facebook has upon our lives, the extra advertising we are exposed to, the club nights we’ve discovered and the way in which it has changed our medium of communication. In this respect is social media not worth studying?
The number of ‘bizarre’ masters degrees seems to be increasing, with Aberdeen offering a course in Modern Thought which, offhand, seems ridiculous but after just a few minutes of research becomes obviously more and more
viable to modern living. Professor Christopher Fynsk who teaches the course describes it as studying "key intellectual movements of modernity in the context of our time". Jargon aside, is it any less important that we understand the thinkers of our time as opposed to grasping the intricate mindset of Italy’s renaissance painters?
It can still be increasingly difficult to justify some of these very modern courses. Brunel University, for example, runs a 12 month MA in Cult Film & Television with a module entitled ‘Shocking
Cinema of the Seventies’ and case studies that include Dr Who and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Even so, is it not vital that somebody understands the significance of these in the same way that folk stories and romantic poetry are now.
The rise in these increasingly relevant courses is becoming more apparent as even Oxbridge have planted both feet on the bandwagon, offering courses in subjects such as Film Aesthetics and Women’s Studies which, ironically, lasts nine months.
Weird names aside, these courses can be very relevant, exactly why it’s essential to name lectures appropriately as this writer discovered when I found a course at Aberystwyth University in ‘Practicing Human Geography’. A few seconds on Wikipedia informed me that "Human geography is the study of human use and understanding of the world and the processes which have affected it." Something which, again, seems undeniably important and much less ridiculous than it first appears.
So next time you snort at somebody doing a course in
‘Packaging Science’ or ‘Animal Husbandry’ why not take a second and ask yourself how much you really know about the subject in question?