Comparing Arts Degrees at Universities in NSW

When choosing one Arts degree over another, your choice of where to study will often come down to what subjects you prefer.

Most Arts degrees in at universities in Sydney do not have a core subject structure – University of Western Sydney, Notre Dame and Charles Sturt University are the exceptions – which means each student is free to design their own degree based around the subjects they want to study. All universities follow a similar teaching and assessment structure of offering lectures in combination with tutorials, which means that students balance their time between the two during their degree.
 

How an Arts degree works


Majors and Minors
An Arts degree consists of major and minor subjects. A major is a subject that you are studying more often and in greater depth than other subjects, throughout the course of your degree. For example, a student may be studying 3 History subjects and 1 Philosophy subject per semester, which means that History is their major, and Philosophy is their minor. Students are able to major in up to 2 subjects throughout the course of their degree. They can have numerous minors, depending on how many subjects they can fit into their degree!

Picking your Subjects
It is important to note that students may only study a certain number of junior units. Junior units usually refer to units studied in first year, which means senior units usually refer to units studied in second and third year. This means that students cannot keep studying a new discipline each semester, but should begin working out what their majors and minors will be by at least second year. Plan ahead to avoid disappointments and the possibility of having to do more subjects in order to graduate.

Lectures
It is a feature of most Arts subjects that lectures are usually huge, anonymous occasions where you’ll sit next to someone in one week at a lecture, and won’t see them again all semester. For this reason it can be difficult for new Arts students to get their head around the concept of making friends in this seemingly anonymous degree. Lectures are usually 1, or sometimes 2 hours long, where a lecturer or professor will speak about the week’s topic, and students can take notes.

Tutorials
Arts subject tutorials are smaller group sessions with a tutor and around 15 other students, based around discussions of the lecture content. Students will usually have to have completed some work for the tutorial, whether it be to read the set readings, or complete some exercises. Some tutors may set a tutorial task which counts towards your final mark, like having to present the week’s readings, or start a discussion. Attendance at tutorials will quite often be recorded, and can sometimes account for up to 10% of your mark. There is usually a certain amount of leniency, however, so you can miss a tute or two.


Here are some examples of key differences between the Arts degrees at the different universities around NSW.

  

Some statistics...

Although world university rankings should be taken with a grain of salt, the University of Sydney consistently ranks above other universities around Sydney for the quality of its Arts Faculty. The New QS World University rankings put it above all universities in Sydney, and nearly all universities in Australia, for the quality and quantity of its research, the ratio of staff to students, and how it is perceived on the international academic stage.

 

  Marks and Number of Subjects

 

ATAR of
B. Arts

Core Units

No. of
subject choices

Sydney Uni       

80.05

No

45

UNSW

78.00

No                   

33

Macquarie

75.00

No

49

UTS

N/A: B. Arts not offered  

N/A

N/A: 5 sub-majors for Communications degrees                                   

UWS

70.00 (all campuses)

Yes

37

Notre Dame

N/A: students apply directly to Notre Dame

Yes

16

CSU

65.00

Yes

19



Staff and Student Numbers

 

Staff      

Students     

Sydney Uni

218

7,246

UNSW

272

6,194

Macquarie

210

5,697

UTS

230

9,500

UWS

220

 5,000

Notre Dame

35

300

CSU

300

10,000



Number of Languages and Class Hours

 

Number of language
subjects choices in a
B. Arts

Approx. number
of lecture and
tutorial hours per
week of the B. Arts

Sydney Uni

19

12

UNSW

9

12

Macquarie

10

12

UTS

6 for
Communications
degrees

12 for
Communications
degrees

UWS

5

12

Notre Dame

-

12

CSU

-

12



Exchange Programs and QS World University Rankings

 

Exchange program
available?

New QS World
University Rankings
2011/12: Arts and
Humanities

New QS World
University Rankings
2011/12: English

Sydney Uni

Yes

23 17

UNSW

Yes

61

51-100

Macquarie

Yes

134

40

UTS

Yes

298

-

UWS

Yes

-

-

Notre Dame

Yes

-

-

CSU

Yes

-

-

 

 

New QS World
University Rankings
2011: Modern Languages

New QS World
University Rankings
2011: History

New QS World
University Rankings
2011: Philosophy

 Sydney Uni

13 13 20

 UNSW

40

-

28

 Macquarie

50-100

-

50-100

 UTS

-

-

-

UWS

-

-

-

Notre Dame

-

-

-

CSU

-

-

-

 

 

New QS World
University Rankings 2011:
Geography and Area
Studies 

New QS World
University Rankings 2011:
Linguistics 

Sydney Uni

21

17

UNSW

51-100

51-100

Macquarie

151-200

30

UTS

-

-

UWS

-

-

Notre Dame

-

-

CSU

-

-


 

University of Sydney

The Arts Faculty at the University of Sydney has its own Fine Arts Library, as well as a professionally equipped Radio and Television studio, media production laboratories, the Australian Literature Resources Centre, and the Rex Cramphorn Studio, which is used for performance artists. It also offers the widest range of language studies in Australia, with students able to choose to learn Arabic, Aramaic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew (Classical and Modern), Hindi/Urdu, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Pali, Sanskrit, Spanish, Syriac and Yiddish. Altogether, students can choose to study subjects from 45 disciplines. They are listed below.

Subject choices available at Sydney University: American Studies; Ancient History; Anthropology; Arab World, Islam and the Middle East; Arabic Language and Literature; Archaeology; Art History and Theory; Asian Studies; Australian Literature; Biblical Studies; Biochemistry; Bioinformatics; Biological Sciences; Celtic Studies; Chemistry; Chinese Studies; Classical Studies; Computer Science; Cultural Studies; Digital Cultures; Economics; Education; English; Environmental Studies; European Studies; Film Studies; French Studies; Gender Studies; Geography; Geology and Geophysics; Germanic Studies; Government and International Relations; Greek (Ancient); Hebrew (Classical); Hebrew (Modern); Heritage Studies; History; History and Philosophy of Science; Indigenous Australian Studies; Indonesian Studies; Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management; Information Systems; International and Comparative Literary Studies; Italian Studies; Japanese Studies; Jewish Civilisation, Thought and Culture; Korean Studies; Latin; Linguistics; Management; Mathematics; Medieval Studies; Microbiology; Modern Greek Studies; Music; Performance Studies; Philosophy; Physics; Plant Science; Political Economy; Psychology; Sanskrit; Social Policy; Sociology; Spanish and Latin American Studies; Statistics and; Studies in Religion.


UNSW

UNSW provides numerous computer labs, music performance labs, language labs and dance practice studios for Arts students, where they can learn how to use and work with good equipment. In terms of languages, students at UNSW can study the following: Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Greek, Italian and Spanish. Altogether, there are 33 disciplines from which students can choose. They are listed below.

Subject choices available at UNSW: Aboriginal Studies Americas Studies; Archaeology; Art History and Theory; Arts and Social Sciences; Asian Studies; Australian Studies; Chinese Studies; Criminology; Development Studies; Economics; English; Environmental Studies; European Studies; Film Studies; French Studies; Geography; German Studies; Hispanic Studies; History; History and Philosophy of Science; Human Resource Management; Indonesian Studies; International Business; International Relations; Japanese Studies; Korean Studies; Linguistics; Media, Culture and Technology; Music and Music Education; Philosophy; Politics; Psychology; Sociology and Anthropology; Theatre and Performance Studies; and Women’s and Gender Studies.

 

Macquarie University

At Macquarie University, three of its core research areas – in which they strongly pursue a research culture – are in the Arts Faculty. These include: Ancient Cultures; Social, Political and Cultural Change and; Social Inclusion. Macquarie offers 10 languages. These are: Chinese, Croatian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Modern Greek, Polish, Russian and Spanish. The subject choices available at Macquarie University are listed below.

Subject choices available at Macquarie University: Ancient History – Egypt and Near East; Ancient History – Greece, Rome and Late Antiquity; Anthropology; Applied Econometrics; Business Demographics; Chinese Studies; Commercial Law; Contemporary Music; Creative Arts; Croatian Studies; Cultural Studies; Dance; Decision Science; Development Studies and Culture Change; Early Childhood; Economics; Education; English; Environmental Management; French Studies; Gender Studies; Geography; German Studies; Human Geography; Human Resources; Indigenous Studies; Information Systems; International Business; International Communications; Italian Studies; Japanese Studies; Linguistics; Marketing; Mathematics; Media, Culture and Communication; Modern Greek Studies; Modern History; Museum Studies; Philosophy; Polish Studies; Politics and International Relations; Psychological Science; Public Sector Management; Russian Studies; Sociology; Software Technology; Spanish and Latin American Studies; Statistics; and Writing.

 

UTS

UTS is alone in not offering a straight Bachelor of Arts. Instead, it provides more specific Communications degrees, which are Information and Media, Journalism, Media Arts and Production, Public Communication, Social Inquiry, Writing, and Cultural Studies. Unlike other Bachelor of Arts degrees, where there are no core units, each of these different degrees has different core units which students must complete. There are, however, sub-majors from every Communication student can choose. They are listed below. Students of Communication degrees are also able to choose from 6 languages, to study as an elective subject. These 6 choices are: Chinese; French; German; Italian; Japanese; and Spanish.

Sub-major choices available at UTS: Aboriginal Studies; Bodies, Genders, Rights; Environmental Studies; Media Studies; Reading Australia; Screen Studies; and Transnational Studies.

 

University of Western Sydney

The University of Western Sydney offers a Bachelor of Arts at three campuses: Penrith, Bankstown and Parramatta. It is the only Bachelor of Arts that requires students to undertake core units. This means that students are required to study the following subjects: Australia and the World; Contemporary Society; Texts and Traditions; Analytical Reading and Writing; Behaviour and Environment; Linguistics; Bilingualism and Biculturalism and; Media and Visual Culture. At UWS, there are 5 language subjects available for students to study: Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. All subjects are listed below.

Subject choices available at UWS: Advertising; Journalism; Media Arts Production; Social Ecology; Child and Community; Criminology and Criminal Justice; Geography and Urban Studies; Peace and Development Studies; Sociology; Heritage and Tourism; Education Studies; Religion, Anthropology and Philosophy; Media and Visual Cultures; Arabic; Chinese; Japanese; Italian; Spanish; Global Studies; Asian Studies and International Relations; History and Political Thought; Cultural and Social Analysis; English, Text and Writing; Islamic Studies; Linguistics; Public Relations; Psychology; Indigenous Australia Studies; Families, Communities, Leadership; Early Child Pedagogies; Illustration; Interactive Media and; Photomedia.

 

Notre Dame

Students at Notre Dame have the benefit of being taught in small classes, which is almost unheard of in other Arts faculties. The core subjects offered by Notre Dame are core subjects that all students study, regardless of their chosen discipline. These focus on Philosophy and Ethics, and form an integrated knowledge that will be beneficial to any Arts subject studied. Students also undertake compulsory internships, which are a great way for students to gain experience in their chosen field before they graduate.

Subject choices available at Notre Dame: Behavioural Science; Communications; English Literature; History; Politics; Sociology; and Theatre Studies.

 

Charles Sturt University

The Bachelor of Arts is offered at the Bathurst and Wagga Wagga campuses. Both campuses are well-equipped with computer labs, Arts libraries and media labs. Students are able to study widely outside of the Arts Faculty, and although there are a limited number of majors students can study, there are a great deal more minors from which to choose. The core subjects students must study are Reasoning; and Values and Communication. Both provide a great foundation to any number of Arts subjects.

Subject choices available at CSU: Arts History; English; History; Philosophy; Psychology; and Sociology.