Science versus Arts – which degree is harder?

1 December 2013

People get competitive about the difficulty of their degrees. The accepted line at Oxford is that Science is harder than Arts, and everything is harder than PPE – three years of sleeping until 1pm and waffling about Mill’s Utilitarianism, and you still get to tell employers that you have a degree in economics.

It’s probably true about the PPEists, but the Arts vs. Science stuff is a myth. Scientists’ claim to the tougher time is based on the fact that they have more contact hours. More contact hours, we are often told, make a more serious degree: it was reported as a scandal in May when Bahram Bekhradnia, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said the average British undergraduate gets less than 14 hours a week with academic staff.

I have three-and-a-half contact hours a week. Two of these are just ‘advisable’, and are sacrificed to essay crises with some regularity. My neighbour, an engineering student, estimates that he has 20, all of which are compulsory and some of which involve getting up before 9am. Cut and dry, then – Historians have it easier.

I beg to differ. If the engineer next door ‘does no work’, he still goes to lectures and labs – he does those 20 hours by default. If I do no work, I genuinely do no work. I could skive my lectures, read no books and fail to write my essay – all I’d have on is an hour-long tutorial which, given my lack of preparation, I might as well miss too.

Claim your gift

Us Arts students have to decide to work. We have to get ourselves up, preferably in the morning. We have to choose to do today what we could do at 2am tomorrow. We have to turn down a pub trip in favour of an evening alone with our books. Hungover and exhausted, who wouldn’t rather sit watching acid drip into alkaline for a couple of hours, rather than trawling through Asser’s Life of King Alfred.

On the rare occasion that they bump into an Arts student (almost certainly a rower) as they head off for those 9am starts, the Scientist will make a ‘jokey’ remark about how much harder they have to work. The guilt-racked Historian or English student will play along: “Yeah, but at least you’ll get a job at the end!”. Science is more employable than Arts: myth number two.

Scientists, we are told, are better prepared for the workplace. They are logical thinkers. They know things that are of practical use. They have meticulous attention to detail. They know how to use a calculator.

When working for Morgan Stanley (god forbid), my friend’s knowledge of isomeric bond formation won’t prove any more useful than my understanding of the tenth-century Benedictine Reform. Any deficiencies in the calculator department, us Artists more than make up for with our ability to structure our own time, break down big tasks and think creatively. Show me a Chemist who can pretend to be an expert on anything after 10 hours reading and 4 hours sleep.

And employers recognise this, too. No more than half of the top twelve degree subjects for getting a job are science-based, and ‘historical and philosophical studies’ comes in at number nine on the list – above Architecture. Seven of the subjects are vocational, and two out of the remaining five are Arts. Last year, 85.4 per cent of ‘historical and philosophical studies’ graduates were in work or further study within six months of finishing their degrees. The year before, it was 90 per cent.

Science is great, but an Arts degree is neither the slackers’ option nor a route to unemployment.

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Show comments
  • Malcolm Smith

    The hard sciences are particularly tough Though it’s still 360 credits in a 3 years degree what ever you take, I can say doing maths and physics I had 30 modules including 4 hour labs with a lot of 10 credit module that use to be 20 I had labs and a total of 28 exams some lasting 4 hours I found it considerably harder than working a 40 hour job though if you continue to self study while doing that job it balances out. I learnt to write programs in multiple computer languages after graduating as I prefer coding to teaching so comparing the work and there modules can tell computer sciences is easier though a good and very interesting subject to take. Part of a 20 credit lab module Involved writing programs in scilab first language is always the hardest and that’s not an easy one to start with especially for effectively for part of 1 lectures 1/2 of a 20 credit first year lab module. Humanity’s are often wishy washy some brilliant people may study them but they are much easier and there students have more free time but that does let them do more around their degree jobs applications or extra modules so they can make up for the difficulty difference if they want.

  • James Kayle

    I find your blog quite entertaining and informative! Although I am student of post graduate courses for pharmacy graduates but most of my friends are from engineering as I have also done diploma in engineering. Yeah I know its sounds wearied but what can I say I liked both engineering& medicine at that time. Keep posting like this.

  • dougscott

    Well, based on that which I have read recently, a Science degree, majoring in Climate Studies, would require less than 4 contact hours per week

  • glurk

    From my experience its true that Arts students have to be self starters. We were lucky to catch sight of a lecturer after the 1st year when I did Fine Arts. We blundered through to the third or fourth years, relying on the scribbled notes from lecturers on our essays or incomprehensible ‘Assessments’ to gauge progress until someone with an entirely subjective view of what Fine Art should be told us how we were to be graded at degree level. Great for the lecturers…..

  • disqus_9I6C4azbIA

    the author is correct a science degree will get you nowhere in the UK.

  • thisissuchavaluabledebate

    You know what the worst thing about Oxford is? The “Oxford Offer Holders 2013” Facebook page.


    Because it’s full of snarky arguments like this! This is the pettiest, most pathetic, most ludicrous pageant of willy-waving.

    I’m sure Tim Berners-Lee would be delighted to know that the Internet has created such a mutually respectful, open-minded and cerebral forum for discussion of vital issues.

    P.S. If anyone clung to an opinion as inflexibly and aggressively as this in an Oxford tutorial, they would be broken into very tiny pieces and scattered to the four winds within approximately 5 minutes.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Those in the sciences are not noted for their limp wristed introspection; it probably has a lot to do with the ruthlessness with which we get rid of anything which doesn’t work. Our creativity enables us to take 430 tonnes of assorted scrap metal, fill it with 500 people and propel it thorough the air at 500 mph, millions of times a year without significant loss. Have any of you “creative” types ever given birth to anything as magnificent as a Spitfire, a thing of aching beauty and of death; you see we do art, drama and history as well. You depend on us for everything you do, even the medium we are now using, the sciences created: you cannot switch on a light, turn on a tap or go to the lavatory without our leave.

    The inconvenient truth is the world is driven by creative science, engineering and technology. The development of the transistor by Bardeen/Brattain, at AT&T Bell Labs in 1947 and the mass production of microprocessors, wrought changes in society that dwarfed any of those achieved by political philosophy or the humanities. The invention the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 has ensured a barely controlled dialogue between millions and has changed the world forever.

    The ignorance of science by the humanities is palpable. Having no mathematics, the worlds of classical mechanics, quantum mechanics and relativity and the questions thrown up by these, are closed books. They do not even understand how the simplest of everyday devices work.

    Fifty years ago C P Snow wrote on the fact that Science and the Humanities regarded each other with mutual incomprehension; and it has got much, much worse. A re-reading of Snow’s “The Two Cultures” shows that nothing has changed since then. “If the scientists have the future in their bones,” he claimed, “then the traditional culture responds by wishing the future did not exist.” F R Leavis’s poisonous response, exemplified this attitude and it triumphed; we abandoned the future to make money in the City. We abandoned space technology, of which we were second in the world after the USA, and after that abandoned just about everything else of integrity.

    So when you “creative types” decorate your next tea cosy; remember we created the scissors as well.

  • Conservative Cactus

    “When working for Morgan Stanley (god forbid)”

    ‘(God forbid)’, you heathen.

  • HY

    “BAs, please take one”
    One of the more amusing pieces of graffiti written above toilet roll holder in trap1, student union bogs, 1970s.

    plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

  • DeanMiah

    The comments on this article is priceless…. lol

  • jboswell

    My two cents…
    As somebody who has studied both science (Maths/Physics) and Arts (English Lit.), I have to say that they both present their own difficulties. It would be hard to deny that you can get along in an Arts degree with much less effort. On the other hand, I personally found that getting higher than average marks in Arts was considerably more difficult. After a while, no matter how much effort one put in, it came down to individual talent. In studying science, effort tended to pay off more readily, whereas in Arts, a law of diminishing returns kicked in.
    At the end of the day, you can’t teach somebody to write a first rate essay about German Romanticism any more than you can teach someone to write a best selling novel. That is not to say that individual creativity is not a requirement for good science, it is, but it kicks in at a higher level. For this reason I would like to see Arts courses become more exclusive, though I probably won’t be mentioning this to anyone in my faculty for fear of being lynched.

  • chris_xxxx

    Was the Industrial Revolution and hence Britain’s wealth, based on engineers or arts graduates?

    Every day, you wake up and enjoy your modern way of life due to science and engineering. Not due to people who studied an arts degree.

    I have no beef with arts graduates, but in no way are they comparable to someone who has studied the sciences for three years.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Nor to people who studied a science degree. What’s all this stuff about degrees?

    • Paul G

      Ah – but at the time of the Industrial Revolution, most of the engineers you speak of were also well schooled in philosophy, history and literature, and possessed a detailed knowledge of fine arts. Sorting out whether it was arts or sciences, in their modern separate senses, which informed the minds of the fathers of the Industrial Revolution is a far more complex matter than you might at first suspect.

      • terence patrick hewett

        The sciences and engineering still have a strong tendency to polymathy. My late maths tutor was such a good pianist that he could have become a world rated virtuoso: he was a mean sculptor as well. Modesty forfends but as a professional engineer I am also well schooled in philosophy, history, literature, and the fine arts. I paint in oils, watercolours and egg-tempera: philosophy is of course an important part of the sciences. But I have yet to find a humanities graduate that evinces any interest in third-order differential equations.

  • Alfred

    I am sure the mouthbreathing old men who make up the Speccie’s core readership love imagining Carola trotting around the lax field in her gymslip.

    • Fergus Pickering

      I hope every red-blooded male likes pretty girls in gymslips.

      • Alfred

        Possibly. But should they have to put up with reading the drivel they put out in the Spectator?

        • Fergus Pickering

          You don’t have to put up with it. Who is making you read it. I haven’t. I just went straight to the comments. I do the same with anything by Isabel Hardman.

      • HY

        Gawd, I hope you’ve not started having those ‘Phoebe Flood’ episodes again, Fergus.

  • Eddie

    All of which goes to show how rubbish the teaching at Oxford is…
    The question you could, perhaps should, have asked it: Are non-arts students thick because they have to be spoonfed so much in lessons and can’t work or think independently?

    • Tom Tom

      Oxford does have one of the largest Chemistry faculties in the UK. It
      has major Engineering faculties and is well-equipped with Physics labs.
      Tim Berners-Lee got his First in Physics at The Queen’s College before
      moving to CERN and developing HTML. Oxford is well-regarded in Science
      even if the hoi-polloi have zero idea

      • Eddie

        Yes, and as I stated many people go to Oxford and want to go there because of its reputation – the upper middle classes especially. The name Oxford is a brand that is known internationally.

        However, I have always found Oxford students and graduates to be arrogant, unwillingly to accept others are as good as they are, and having a sense of entitlement that is not deserved considering their lack of real achievement.

        Berners-Lee did NOT do what he did BECAUSE he went to Oxford. You scientists have a really poor understanding of cause and effect (no doubt due to that great Oxford scientific training…). He was a computer nerd because his parents were programmers way back before most people even owned a telly, and his family had money too, and he was born at the right time.

        Sorry, but in terms of science, there are far better places than Oxford which relies mostly on its reputation, and boy does it never shut up about the notable people who have studied there (another false argument, because all upper class people sent their young there for centuries, so of course kings and prime ministers etc would be alumni of Oxford!)

        • Tom Tom

          Sour grapes taste awful

          • Eddie

            Well, you should know. I have no sour grapes at all in my larder – just clear-sighted morsels of truth.
            Me, I would never have wanted to go to Oxford. I worked there for 4 summers later on, and remember thinking that the whole place reminded me of a mental home – the teachers at Oxford are awful and living in a time warp that obsessed about the class system (they even have ‘scouts’ to make their beds every day and wipe their vivas…) YUK! Thanks but no thanks!

    • Elmboughs

      Edgar Codd, who invented the modern database (and therefore, indirectly, this website and comment section), did his first degree at Oxford. Clearly doing a maths and chemistry degree prevented him from thinking originally.

      • Eddie

        You fail to realise that the only reason Oxford can boast so many PMs, scientists etc is because the upper classes all used to send their spawn there – and very thick many of them were too.
        Your argument is false because they is no evidence of causation – it is not the Oxford education or teaching (which is often dire) that caused people like Codd to achieve. Oxford takes the credit for its students achievement when it really shouldn’t – their achievements are not because of the weird waffly tutorials of Oxford dons.
        People put way too much store on what people do for 3 years when they are 19. I know middle aged men whose greatest achievement (to them) was going to Oxford. How very sad.

        • Tom Tom

          Your last line is true but the best A-Level grades used to head for Oxford and Cambridge – like everything else it is now debased. 40% PPE students at Oxford today are foreigners

          • HJ777

            That’s not entirely true. When I was applying to university, one of my teachers wanted me to go to his old college in Cambridge so took me along for a visit to meet tutors and students. The student who showed me around had got in with very poor ‘A’ levels but explained that his school had an historical connection with the college and so made a certain number of places available to students from that school every year. I was (as someone from an ordinary comp), shocked.

            I don’t think that that sort of thing goes on any more but it certainly did in the not-so-distant past.

            • Eddie

              Yep, and add to that the ‘political correctness’ admissions – a black girl can get in with Cs.
              At my school, the head boy got an offer of 2 Ds and an E…

          • Eddie

            I agree that everything is dumbed down and debased. All my qualifications have been devalued. When I did A levels in 86, 15% did A levels and 30 failed; now most do them and almost no-one fails (98.4% pass rate).
            Similarly with degrees – now 15% are 1sts and 70%+ get 1st or 2.1s. 20 years ago most people got 2.2s for much better work.
            I did know some people with straight As who chose to go to the top 10 redbrick uni I went to though and would never have wanted to strike the affective pose of Oxbridge.
            The older I get the more I find the obsession with degrees and classes of degrees to be utterly pathetic. Yet, so many find these things important, not least academics, the most pompous of professionals. (Just what is the collective noun for academics? An aloofness? An arrogance? A beard?)

  • Tom Tom

    Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Engineering degrees are harder than Arts degrees with Chemistry being rated one of the hardest. There is no real debate. Arts degrees are cheaper as they require only a room and moving lips, no equipment and no labs.

    If you want really vacuous degrees try Sociology, English, or MA Human Rights at Birkbeck College to see the full pomposity of vacuity

    • Elmboughs

      Generally agreed, but they do test different skills. I know someone who did a degree in fashion journalism. Mickey mouse degree? Possibly, but it was basically an advanced-level course in blagging and networking, and it’s help her carve out a very nice career in an unrelated field. I wish my biosciences degree had taught me to do things that come quite naturally to her!

      • Eddie

        Yes, but is our education just to be seen as a training college, a preparation for the work place, and its success measured in how much graduates earn?
        Sorry, but I believe in the true value of education – its purpose is NOT to train you to be a good drone office worker (though many think it is); its purpose is to teach us HOW TO ASK BETTER QUESTIONS.
        It should also give a broad cultural education (which many now lack), and, if you have the benefit of a good school education as I do, to give you a broad range of knowledge in all fields – arts, sciences, languages. Most people lack that classical education these days though, including most teachers I used to work with.

        • Malcolm Smith

          It is seen that way but students, parents and taxpayers are all paying for it and we all have bills to pay.

    • Paul G

      I’m not convinced that that’s much of an argument closer. The comparison between difficulty and cost is equivalent to comparing apples and pears: they aren’t the same and don’t feature on the same scale, so the comparison is next to meaningless. It may be true that chemistry is harder (I don’t know – most chemistry students I knew at university spent most of their time in the pub complaining about how they’d had to do a two hour lab whereas many of the arts students would still be still reading while at the pub or engaging in lively debate about their most recent lecture) but simply saying that something is harder because it is more expensive is not a very rigorous approach to take.

      • Tom Tom

        It is a very clear reason why Universities prefer to generate REVENUE from Arts students over Science. University is a money-making business designed to harvest yield from students to defray running costs as in the USA.

    • Eddie

      No real debate? Idiot. See, that shows your lack of a good classical education which would have taught you the importance of THINKING deeply, questioning and debate.

      In fact, maths and physics are really for easy for those with the right brains (often ignorant, cold, autistic brains). I also thought it was a cheat that you could be 3 A levels by being good at maths – Maths, Applied Maths and Physics, AAA, Simples!

      I do agree that with many arts subjects (history, sociology, meeja) anyone of reasonable intelligence (which is not all students these days when 50% of people go to uni) can study and pass them – ‘have a go’ as it were. With science, you need a more specific foundation from school days.

      In my opinion, the hardest subjects are languages – and just how many scientists can string together a sentence in a foreign language?

      FYI 80% of those studying science at UK universities at masters level are foreign – so our British way of teaching science is very wrong and is failing.

      • Tom Tom

        US PhD students in Engineering are usually Korean or Chinese. You can hire an MIT PhD cheaply for financial modelling on Wall Street which reflects societal values….just as in the UK. The Money is in Finance and that is why 77% ALL £1m bankers are in London and just 6% in Germany

  • Colonel Mustard

    The Borg are coming. Every ‘event’ is now plagued by phone cameras. Might as well wire the bloody things permanently onto their heads and programme them all to vote Laborg at the same time. This is the future folks, a Techno East Germany surveilled by an Idiocracy who think that because they can they should and populated by a strange hysteria.

  • Alex Yeates

    One thing I have learnt whilst at University is that there are few things more irritating and unwelcome than someone commenting on your degree’s worth when they know little to nothing about it. The main difference between Arts and Sciences is that one consists of empirical truths and another of opinion. The difficulty of each are not reflected by one another but rather by the people studying them. If you spent as much time just getting on with your work and with other people instead of moaning and trying to show off what you have been reading for the week, you might start to feel less insecure with what you are doing. Who knows, you might even learn something.

    • Elmboughs

      Exactly-the problem with arts graduates is that they’re so damn good at articulately arguing fundamentally stupid things, because a) they don’t know better and b) they’ve been taught being contrarian helps them to stand out. That’s why a great manager has both skills: enough science to do the right thing, and enough arts to justify doing it.

  • edlancey

    Not only are most Arts and Humanities degrees drivel, for the past 40 years the lecturers are mainly cultural marxists offering some pathetic “deconstruction” of the subjects rather than any empirical or inductive reasoning.

    • Chingfordassociates .

      I’d say I’d partly agree with you. The problem is that people choose a degree based on experience of the subject at A Level. Take A Level English Literature for example, all good stuff: Shakespeare, Dickens et al and engagement with ‘old school’ literary criticism (A.C Bradley etc.) English undergraduates arrive at university expecting more of the same but at a higher level.

      However, once at University the subject morphs into cultural studies, gender studies, psychoanalysis, Marxist theory, post-modernism: stuff which has been discredited or simply isn’t worth knowing in the first place.

      Arts degrees need not be drivel, but the content of courses needs to be looked at and the pseudo knowledge and expertise of a lot of the lecturers needs to be challenged (the stuff that would fail Karl Popper’s falsifiability test being a good starting point at which to begin the challenge.)

    • Fergus Pickering

      The lecturers are mainly cultural marxists? Both my daughters did degrees. Neither of them met a single cultural marxist? Neither did I forty plus years ago. Marxism, like Bunbury, is quite exploded. and has been since the war.

    • Unomosh

      “lecturers are mainly cultural marxists”

      This is total nonsense. Critical Theory and Postmodernism exist in Humanities and Social Sciences but certainly don’t dominate them. You obviously haven’t actually studies these subjects. Social Sciences are dominated by Positivism, which strives to be scientific and value neutral. And no particular view has a dominating position in Humanities (referring here to historiography and literary theory).

      Also worth noting, the British right seem to have adopted the nutty nomenclature of the American right – there is no such thing as a ‘cultural marxist’.

      • edlancey

        Social Sciences are bollocks from soup to nuts – every single one of them.

  • Adam Marples

    Wow, that is a crucial skill you have there. I work with engineers and none of us know how to structure our time. We’re completely helpless in the real world, unlike you. As for being able to fake being an expert in something… that might be useful for you but it isn’t very helpful for anyone else.

    • Alex Yeates

      “Show me a Chemist who can pretend to be an expert on anything after 10 hours reading and 4 hours sleep.”

      Carola shoots herself in the foot here indicating that by the end of her degree she would have no real expertise other than in bullshit. A chemist wont have to pretend to be an expert because they will be one.

  • La Fold

    As someone who studied engineering I have absolute no sympathy. Imagine having to sturcture all that free time… its almost as if you are a big girl now. Probably go to the toilet by yourself and everything.

  • rtj1211

    There is no question that it is easier to get a 2:2 in an arts degree than a sciences degree. You simply don’t have to do so much work.

    Doing science, medicine or engineering at Oxford or Cambridge is like 3 years of unpaid employment. It’s a 5 day week, with Wednesday afternoon replaced by Saturday morning.

    if you want to get a first at either, though, it’s not very easy.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    All those bars on campus selling cut-rate alcoholic beverage; I mean what`s that all about? No wonder those under-grads find it difficult to get up in the morning.

  • Two Bob

    The science of art or the art of science? Far more interesting.

  • saint-loup

    ‘Us Arts students’? ‘Us Artists’? One thing an Oxford arts graduate should know is the difference between subject and object, nominative and accusative.

    • JohnCK

      Be careful. I got was excoriated by pc people when I mentioned the grammatical errors in the last article by a 9 year old in the Speccie.

      • Twenty Rothmans

        So was me.

    • Tom Tom

      She is an Undergraduate and presumably from some inner city fee paying girls school

  • greggf

    Apart from working in the public sector what jobs can Arts graduates get?

  • Blazenka Hudson-trograncic

    PPE, too much politics, the wrong philosophy and economics with no maths, what a joke.

    • Tom Tom

      Econometrics is present in PPE simply no Austrian School, no Wicksell,
      no Mises, no Boehm-Bawerk, no Minsky……most options are in Politics
      because of the ’68ers

    • Lee Moore

      I did PPE, roughly a hundred and forty years ago, and it was the perfect degree for me. I did about four hours work a week and got a solid 2nd. I went to three lectures in three years, all in the first week before I discovered it was voluntary. I can’t say any of the Politics bit stayed with me longer than the average curry. From Economics i remember the crossed lines of supply and demand curves. Price goes up, people buy less. Made sense then, makes sense now. And, from observation of my peers, that one bit of retained knowledge puts me in the top 1% of economically literate folk in the country. As for philosophy, I recall next to nothing about Mill and Hume and so on. But I do remember the very elementary bits of the formal logic course, and I would say that that alone has seen me through my career. I learned how to spot when an argument didn’t follow, inoculating me from bullshitters ever after, and enabling me to explode them when it was to my advantage to do so. And it taught me how to bullshit properly myself.

      Hoorah for PPE, I say. OK, I could have done the full degree in a fairly hard working weekend (which is basically what I did, but spread out over three years) but it was fun.

  • HJ777

    The problem with this article is that it is written by someone with very little life experience and none of post graduation employment.

    When I was a student (studying Applied Physics and Electronics) we had no fewer than 20 hours of lectures per week and 12 hours of lab work. Carola Binney fails to realise that you can’t just sit there when doing lab work. We often had a lecture after an afternoon’s lab work, having already had 3 or 4 hour-long lectures in the morning. We had just Wednesday afternoons off. And the lectures were full-on dense physics (quantum mechanics, etc.), maths, circuit analysis, etc. My overwhelming memory was one of exhaustion. What’s more, there was plenty of coursework and lab reports to add to the lectures. You couldn’t just sit through lectures – we were going to be examined on the subjects later.

    One of my memories was of often walking back to college after a morning’s lectures for lunch (we couldn’t get there until over halfway through lunch), to find that we had to queue behind arts students who had just got out of bed. We had time just to eat, nip back to our rooms to drop off our books before heading back up tot he Science site. The history student in the next room to mine actually went skiing for a week during term time (I’m only missing 3 lectures, he said when I expressed my astonishment).

    I think Carola Binney will also find that due to the short terms at Oxford, Engineering students have to come back during the holidays for more lectures and lab work.

    As for rowers being arts students – I don’t know where Carola Binney gets that idea from. I rowed in college (wasn’t much good in those days, quite decent now, 30 years later) and most of the university eight were science or engineering students. Tom James was an engineering student. George Nash is an engineering student. Sophie Hosking’s degree is in chemistry and physics. I could go on.

    And as for prospects – surveys clearly show that people with science degrees earn more than people with arts degrees.

    • grammarschoolman

      ‘The problem with this article is that it is written by someone with very little life experience and none of post graduation employment.’

      Erm, it’s a blog about being a student, so that’s rather the point of it.

      • HJ777

        Then why does it try to tell us about graduate employment, of which the writer has precisely no knowledge or experience?

        It is also wrong to imply that scientists and engineers only go to lectures because they are compulsory, whereas arts students go because they are self-motivated. This is, in general, factually incorrect. I didn’t have any compulsory lectures, yet I missed only two in three years (including my very first lecture because I couldn’t find the lecture theatre).

        It is entirely reasonable to point out that a student blog is wrong because the author has not the experience to judge the reality.

        • grammarschoolman

          ‘It is also wrong to imply that scientists and engineers only go to lectures because they are compulsory, whereas arts students go because they are self-motivated. This is, in general, factually incorrect. I didn’t have any compulsory lectures, yet I missed only two in three years (including my very first lecture because I couldn’t find the lecture theatre).’

          Which exactly bears out her point – you were self-motivated, so you went, while others were not and didn’t. It doesn’t seem to have done much for your reading skills.

          • HJ777

            It seems that it is you who suffer from poor reading (or perhaps comprehension) skills.

            Here is what she wrote:

            “If the engineer next door ‘does no work’, he still goes to lectures and labs – he does those 20 hours by default. If I do no work, I genuinely do no work. I could skive my lectures, read no books and fail to write my essay – all I’d have on is an hour-long tutorial which, given my lack of preparation, I might as well miss too.

            Us Arts students have to decide to work.”

            Clear implication – Engineering students do the work because they have to, Arts students because they are motivated to do so.

            Her point was not just that some students are self-motivated and some are not, it was that Science/Engineering students don’t require self-motivation in the same way as arts students do.

            The fact that I was self-motivated and some others were not (not an accusation I could level at anyone I remember on my course) does not bear out any point about engineering/science students vs arts students. It just says that some students are more motivated than others, regardless of course. Who knew?

            • Tom Tom

              I am, You are, He is, Us are, You are, They are………New English Grammar ?

          • Tom Tom

            Rubbish. Science is a series of building blocks and lectures are integral components. In Arts lectures are basically for half-wits who write copious notes rather than reading into the subject. I skipped lectures after the first year as they were a waste of valuable time, they were only ever worth while to check out attractive women…….and then the interest fades

            • grammarschoolman

              Lectures are where you learn from the preeminent experts in your subject, whatever it is. End of story.

  • Joe Bloggs

    I see The Spectator is hiring columnists from the cradle. Who is she related to at The Spectator?

    Was this an open recruitment process? Was the position even advertised openly?

    • Tom Tom

      I doubt they are paying her….but she probably gets entertained

      • HY

        Re: unpaid interns – I believe that the cash hungry HMRC will very shortly be on Fraser’s case!

  • David Drane

    Excellent question and anwsered superbly. Apart from the many areas studied at Degree level classified as the arts (business, media, humanities etc), pure art degrees, performing arts etc are as integral to our economy and society as the sciences, but this thought has been lost by the like of M.Gove Rt.Hon MP in his shake up of education. Film, theatre, cruise entertainment may well be chill time activities for many in a vibrant economy, however they are jobs for those in those industries and an integral part of the economy in terms of inward tourism, trade of film and TV shows around the world etc.

    • RobertC

      If the Department of Energy (and Climate Change!) could have a few with SOME Science GCSE’s, O’levels and A’levels would be even better, we Scientists would tolerate the absence of Science and Engineering experience in so many critical and technical areas of our Government a little more.
      Not much, but still, a little more!

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