A travel and tourism degree will tend to be quite vocational in its nature, and will focus on everything from management techniques to policy and strategy – everything you’ll need to enter a career in the sector after you’ve graduated, in other words.
What A-levels do you need?
The good news is that you won’t have to worry too much about specific subjects; the vast majority of travel and tourism courses don’t require any one subject (although, as you might guess, languages, geography and business all tend to go down well). The exact grades you’ll need will completely depend on the uni and the course you’re applying to – a
tourism management BSc at the University of Surrey will require ABB, for instance, whereas you’ll only need 240 UCAS points if you’re hoping to study on Middlesex University’s international tourism management BA.
What are your study options?
The content of your degree will differ depending on the university you end up choosing. For the most part, your course will consist of lectures, seminars and practical workshops that will help build your knowledge of the sector as a whole. Degrees will usually be three years in length and you’ll cover a wide range of subjects, from the management and advertising aspects of travel and tourism to the economic and financial impacts (as well as the constraints) of the sector. As your degree progresses you’ll have the chance to choose from different optional modules, which will allow you to narrow your focus to a particular area you’re interested in.
As your subject will be fairly career-focussed, plenty of unis will offer (and probably encourage you to do) a placement year. This will involve a year working in the travel and tourism sector, taking the knowledge you’ve acquired up to that point in your degree and applying it to a real-life setting. Placement years fall between the second and final years of your course, and are a great way of building experience for your CV (and some placements may even lead to a full-time job after you’ve graduated). If you’re interested in international travel and tourism, you may also have the option of doing your work placement abroad. This will not only give you an insight as to how travel and tourism works in different countries, but will also help you to acquire/refine your knowledge of other cultures and languages.
Why study Travel and Tourism?
If you’re looking for a career that incorporates travel, business and customer relations, then studying a travel and tourism course could be a good option. As we mentioned earlier, the travel and tourism industry is a massive one, and there are plenty of opportunities out there for grads with the right set of skills.
The other thing worth mentioning is that the travel and tourism sector can be a lot of fun to work in (just watch Fawlty Towers if you don’t believe us). Your course will most likely be very varied, and this diversity will hopefully be reflected in the career you eventually end up in…
After your degree
Your job options are (almost) endless. You might work for an airline or find a job on a cruise ship; you could go on to be involved in the running of a hotel or a theme park; you might work in event management, logistics or maybe marketing.
Your degree will also equip you with a range of transferable skills, which means your options won’t necessarily be limited to the tourism and travel sector. The communication and management skills you’ll have developed over the course of your degree will also make you well-suited to careers in the likes of PR and advertising, or even business and finance roles.Alternatively, you could stay on at uni and gain a postgraduate qualification. Doing a TEFL course will train you to teach English abroad, while certain Master’s or PGDip courses will give your CV an extra edge.
Q & A with a Tourism lecturer
Hayley Wright is a tourism lecturer and a keen traveller, who writes about her experiences on her website, tourismteacher.com .
Why should students study a degree in tourism?
Travel and tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world and provides a wealth of employment opportunities around the globe. From informal employment such as working as a local taxi driver or fisherman to seasonal jobs such as resort representative and cabin crew, to managerial roles in marketing or cabin service management onboard an aircraft, there is a lot of choice and variety in the industry. Travel and tourism also has very close links with the aviation and hospitality industries too.
The travel and tourism industry is a dynamic, ever evolving industry. The business of the sector is constantly changing, with company mergers and integration happening all the time and the continuous development of new technology impacting on the industry. Many jobs in travel and tourism are not 9-5 and coupled with the dynamic nature of the industry they are appealing to people in search of jobs that are away from a desk, those who seek variety and are keen to avoid routine.
Graduates may wish to work in the UK or overseas, and it is easy to move between different jobs within the industry, as many jobs require the same transferable skills that you will learn both through studying for a degree and through work experience. Having a degree can often help graduates to enter the industry at a higher level i.e. in a managerial role, and may progress in their career faster than those who do not have a degree.
What kind of skills will students learn on the course?
Travel and tourism degrees enable students to develop a number of core skills that are required when working in the industry. Degrees will normally involve a range of assessments, from written essays and reports, to exams, to practical tasks and presentations. Students are graded throughout the course on these skills, helping to develop them throughout the duration of their studies. Students will develop their academic writing and research skills, their teamwork and communications skills, presentation skills and IT skills amongst many more, all of which are essential skills required in the travel and tourism industry. In addition, many universities will offer students the opportunity to undertake work experience in a relevant role during their studies and will offer a number of extra curricula or enrichment activities that students may take part in, for example organising events or going on a residential visit to an overseas destination.
What key modules can students expect to cover in their first year?
Each university will differ slightly in the degree programmes that they offer, however typical modules that students will cover include tour operations, strategic management, marketing, tourism destinations, employability skills and finance. Many universities will provide students with optional modules of study which could include anything from subjects such as tourism in developing countries to travel entrepreneurs, to casino resort management!
What kind of careers do students typically go into after they graduate?
Graduates typically take on a variety of roles within the sector. Many aspire to become cabin crew or resort representatives, whereas others will choose to work for tour operators or in business travel. With the industry being so diverse, opportunities for graduates are abundant!