Follow your heart and Study What You Love

12 Nov 2012 10:32:39.427

The University of Nottingham is encouraging prospective students to follow their heart as well as their head. The Study What You Love campaign focuses on the importance of enjoying your subject – whatever that may be.

The campaign’s ambassador is philosopher Professor Stephen Mumford, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University, who believes it is of vital importance that students love their subject – and that was certainly the case for him.

Prof Mumford said: “It was love of the subject that led me to study philosophy. I doubt I could have done well at university without that. Although I didn’t understand exactly what philosophy was, I had a sense that it was interesting and important. The world seemed full of fundamental mysteries and it was only in philosophy that there was hope of solving them.

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“I graduated from Huddersfield Polytechnic in 1989, looking still fresh-faced and like a prototype for a certain JK Rowling character. My ambition to become a professional philosopher seemed far-fetched so I kept it secret for a long time. I am very pleased it became a reality.”

No obvious career path

Just because a subject doesn’t have an obvious career attached to it – like philosophy – does not mean that it is not ‘worth’ studying. That’s because Nottingham’s courses shape students into effective communicators, confident presenters, skilled analysts and innovative problem solvers.

Prof Mumford said: “I use the analytic, rational skills of philosophy in so much else, not just my research and teaching. Good thinkers are needed in all professions and the skills are useful in every task. This is why employers realise philosophy students are among the most skilled and independent thinkers.

“I think the idea of Study What You Love sends the right signal. Passion for a subject area is the best way in which to excel. In so doing, you will acquire all sorts of skills that can take you forward even in a career you didn’t anticipate.”

A recent survey by the Daily Telegraph placed philosophy graduates as eighth in a list of the top ten best employment rates by subject. Showing that studying what you love can also be a lucrative career move.

Professor Mumford was the first academic from the University to write about the importance of studying a subject you feel passionate about on the Study What You Love blog. There’s also a post from Tim Smith, from law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, who believes “the subject a graduate has studied isn’t important at all, we are much more interested in the skills that a candidate can display”.

Student opinion

Sarah Perkins, a third year Dietetics student at the University’s Sutton Bonington Campus, fully endorses Study What You Love. She said: “It means when work is really hard you have something that gets you through; an aim for all the work and a passion for all you learn. It makes working easier because you're actually interested and it means that you meet people with the same passions as you.

“Particularly being on a vocational course you have to want to work with people and you have to care about people, you have to love this as you can't just get by with academia and getting good marks. Studying what you love will mean you enjoy it and this will feed into everything else you do, how you feel and where you go next.”

Shane Chard, a second year English and American Studies student, believes that the key to boosting your employability is extracurricular activities – in addition to a subject that you love. And there is no shortage of options at Nottingham with over 250 societies and sports clubs to choose from.

Shane said: “As I’m doing a degree in English and American studies, many people are curious about how I will turn this into a career. I always answer: my degree will equip me with an abundance of transferable skills, but what I will use to stand out from the crowd are the extracurricular activities on offer at Nottingham. Currently, I’m writing a blog for the University website and working on an article to be featured in the University’s student magazine. Both of these challenge me to improve my writing and research skills while doing something I enjoy.”


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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is also the most popular university in the UK by 2012 application numbers, and ‘the world’s greenest university’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More informationis available from Professor Stephen Mumford, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, The University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 5847 or via

Fraser Wilson - Communications Officer

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 6691 Location: University Park

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