More bonkers degrees?

Are they bonkers? Or just very well targeted?

With apologies for repetition. But it is August. And in the context of A-level results day, we all need to reflect on the real value of some of the finest HE provision around. Previous posts have covered similar ground including a zombie course at the University of Baltimore and a course covering Lady Gaga. Also previously looked here at the launch of an MA in Beatles Studies and the offer of a degree in Northern Studies as well as offering a podcast on “bonkers or niche” degrees. Most recently there was, shockingly, an MA in horror and transgression at Derby.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has new update on some of these:

Pop quiz: What is the difference between a tangerine and a clementine? If you’re stumped, then you probably did not get a degree from Florida Southern College in citrus studies, an interdisciplinary major that introduces students to the ins and outs of producing and marketing—you guessed it—citrus fruits. Courses include CIT 3301: “Introduction to Citrus” and a for-credit internship in Florida’s citrus industry. If that experience doesn’t result in a full-time job, at least graduates know they’ll have a leg up in the produce aisle on all those chumps who majored in history.

It also highlights a number of other exciting degrees:

Carnegie Mellon U.

Major: Bagpipes – Notable courses: One-on-one bagpipe studio courses with Andrew Carlisle, a master piper

Bowdoin College

Major: Arctic studies – Notable courses: “Arctic Peoples,” “Arctic Explorations,” “Arctic Politics”

Harrisburg Area Community College

Major: Auctioneering – Notable courses: The program requires two semesters of “Procurement and Appraisal of Merchandise” as well as a semester of AUCT 106: “The Auction.”

Kansas State U.

Major: Bakery science – Notable courses: “Cereal Science,” “Fundamentals of Food Processing,” “Principles of Milling”

There are more…

Meanwhile, back in the UK, the Telegraph has published a list of “unusual university courses”. A remarkable list on two counts. First, few of the courses listed are that unusual (Aerospace Engineering is pretty big in quite a few universities) and secondly (as @TriBen pointed out to me, for which many thanks), it fails to cite Surf Science at Plymouth, which is usually a banker for such lists (there is a picture of a surfer though). The horse pic below relates to Equine Studies, of course.

It is August. And there is a need to fill some space before all those pictures of happy students on A level results day can be published.

First Liverpool Beatles graduate

Exciting graduation news

A previous posting noted the launch of an MA in Beatles Studies.

Rather than being one of those slightly bonkers courses this is a more serious proposition and it now has at least one graduate as this BBC report notes:

A Canadian singer has become the first person in the world to graduate with a Masters degree in The Beatles.

Former Miss Canada finalist Mary-Lu Zahalan-Kennedy signed up for the course at Liverpool Hope University when it launched in March 2009.

As well as examining the studio sound and composition of The Beatles’ back catalogue, the course looks at how the city of Liverpool helped to shape their music.

The significance of their music and how it helped to define identities, culture and society is also examined.

Mike Brocken, founder and leader of the Beatles MA course, said: “This programme is the only postgraduate degree programme in the world of its kind.

“Mary-Lu now joins an internationally recognised group of scholars of Popular Music Studies who are able to offer fresh and thought-provoking insights into the discipline of musicology.”

It is to be hoped that she wasn’t the only student on the course.

Magical mystery tour? A new MA in the Beatles

Guardian carries some news about a new course at Liverpool Hope: The long and winding road to an MA in Beatles songs.

Just the kind of stuff to get the IUSS Select Committee going:beatles

The masters degree in The Beatles, Popular Music and Society is being billed by Liverpool Hope University as the first such course in the UK and “probably the world”. Among the topics covered on the course, which comprises four 12-week modules and a dissertation, are the postwar music industry, subcultures, and the importance of authenticity and locality.

Mike Brocken, senior lecturer in popular music at the university, said it was time the band were put under an academic microscope. “There have been over 8,000 books about the Beatles but there has never been serious academic study and that is what we are going to address,” he said. “The Beatles influenced so much of society, not just with their music, but also with fashion, from their collar-less jackets to their psychedelic clothes.”

As well as investigating different ways of studying popular music, the MA will look at the studio sound and compositions of the Beatles and examine Liverpudlian life from the 1930s to see how events helped to shape the music emerging in the city.

It’s a decent enough pitch and given that you can get a Master’s in just about anything, there’s no reason not to do the Beatles. WhiIst I think he could be a bit more confident about its unique status in the world, it is a bit misleading to suggest there has been no serious academic study. Not all of the 8,000 books are trivia.