What is Liberal Arts? Is it Worth it? 


Whenever I tell someone the name of my degree, they act like they know what it is. Many think it is to do with art. Some may have a vague idea. But it is becoming ever more popular in Universities, and this guide may help you understand exactly what it involves! This is more specific to Kings College London, as liberal arts courses do vary from University to University.

Liberal arts most often lets you choose across the humanities as well as in some cases the social sciences and science. So you can study things like modern language, music, English, anthropology, history, women’s studies, psychology, politics, and geography. 

At KCL first year students all have to take a modern language module. Whatever your skill level, you will be able to develop your language, with the choice of carrying it on in second and third year. 

Core liberal arts modules: These help you establish a core understanding of studying at University, looking at topics through an interdisciplinary lens. General ideas and concepts are studied, as well practicing as key skills such as writing and constructing an argument. Core liberal arts modules are also an important way to get to know your year group of students.

The degree is unique to whoever decides to take it on. By constructing your own module arrangements, you are able to create a broad specialisation, especially in second and third year where 50% of modules are in your major. The first year allows you to get to grips with a range of subject areas with few specifications of what you can and can’t take, allowing you to get an understanding for what you enjoy. The interdisciplinary approach to learning is key since it breeds a range of transferable intellectual and practical skills with the added ability to apply knowledge to real world settings. 

Your degree transcript will outline your major, for example for me, BA Hons Liberal arts with a major in Geography and minor in history. If you take a certain amount of credits, for KCL it is 75, across the three years, you have then also minored in that subject area. 

There are some negatives, but for me they are negligent, but perhaps something to bear in mind.  Often you are often in different subjects to your friends, and thus, you may not feel you belong fully to a community of students in the different subjects. With this said, you do have your core liberal arts students who you see in the core modules anyway! You may feel like the workload would be increased, but this is not actually the case. We take the exact same number of credits as other students, and if you manage your time, the workload is not at all bad!  It is possible to feel you may not be getting the full amount out of a subject as you a limited by credits. A way to overcome this is to pick modules across the discipline that all have a similar underlying theme, as this will help bring them all together. 

Positives: For me I definitely feel like I gave an advantage over single honour students. In History, I can bring in geographical viewpoints that other students wouldn’t have, which I believe gives your work an edge. Liberal arts allows you to not be confined by a single subject, but instead spread across multiple disciplines and really increase your academic insight. The degree is also very employable as it offers an array of skills and job sectors that are suitable.