Liberal Arts: Frequently asked questions


Do I have to decide now whether to do the BA or MLibArts?

No. You can apply to either one, and transfer to the other later if you wish. The decision needs to be made at the end of the second year at the latest, because in the MLibArts degree you go abroad for your third year. To keep that option open you need to apply for your study abroad in November of the second year.

Don’t worry, you’ll get a reminder and lots of help.

How do 'pathways' work?

Informally, the pathway is also called your ‘major', ie the subject in which you will specialise, while also taking Liberal Arts core units and options in other subjects that interest you. One-quarter of your units are done in the pathway, and you graduate with a degree in Liberal Arts ‘with’ that pathway (eg History, or Theatre). Each subject has a coherent curriculum for Liberal Arts students, with some required units and plenty of optional choices.

In the last year of your degree you will do a dissertation that ideally will be on a topic that draws on material you have been studying both in your pathway and in other units. 

How much free choice will I have?

Quite a lot. In the first year you can have up to one-half of your modules as options. That said, you will need to get started on your probable pathway, which you confirm at year’s end. But there is still room to discover new things, possibly even a new pathway. Again, you’ll be given expert guidance to make sure you maximize your opportunities. In the second year you will have up to two, and in the final year up to three free choices—in addition to the choices you make from among the options in your pathway.

How does the year abroad work?

See our study abroad page.

How do I write my personal statement for UCAS?

It might seem difficult to write a statement both for the interdisciplinary Liberal Arts degree and for a single or joint degree (eg BA English), but the qualities we look for in students coming to the University of Bristol are the same in all cases.

Other applicants will be in the same situation as you, and our admissions team is fully alert to it, so you needn’t think you will be disadvantaged. The reasons you give for your interest in specific subjects will stand you in good stead for Liberal Arts. Conversely, a good Liberal Arts applicant will be attractive to admissions officers recruiting for single or joint honours degrees. If you read the admissions statement carefully, you will notice that one of the criteria for Liberal Arts is “interest in links between subjects and overarching themes of historical or contemporary relevance”. This is what the Liberal Arts degree is about; but it’s also a quality that any admissions officer would think commendable.

Who do I contact for further information?

If you have any questions about our Liberal Arts courses, get in touch with our admissions team via:

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