“Your talent is a seed; cultivate it, and in no time, you will harvest successMatshona Dhliwayo, Zimbabwean philosopher

The listings of programs offered at universities and colleges are full of weird and wonderful titles that make you stand out from the crowd and also make entertaining conversation pieces in the pub. We have scoured the world of higher education in search of the best courses, the ones you probably haven’t heard of. Here are 5 of the most wonderful, and unusual, subjects you can study in college.

Computer Game Design & Development

If you want to continue your studies abroad in a less well-known subject, then you can take a bachelor’s degree in game design. Yes, I know this may sound like a dream for many of us – but it really is possible – and you may even find courses specifically called video game design! With so many young Africans enjoying gaming on their phones or on home devices; this could be the Study Abroad option for you. Still, a relatively new field of study, the amount of training and focus varies depending on the institution. A game designer usually works with the art director, level designers, game developers, marketing director, translators, and writers. The job can be quite varied and involves elements of coding, graphic design, animation, and, of course, creative storylines!  Centennial College in Toronto offers a 3-year degree in Game Development. Alternatively, you can also find a Bachelor of Video Game Design at a few schools focussed on computer science, design, or art. If you can imagine – there are even some schools specializing in the digital and games industry. Game on!!  

Brewing and Distilling

Going to bars is a popular and entertaining pastime in Africa, as in most parts of the world. So why not enroll in the Masters in Brewing and Distilling course at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh? This is actually a fairly popular degree and career path in the U.K. So you will have to compete by taking an interest in the science and the brewing process (rather than just drinking alcoholic beverages).  Despite what many may think, the graduate employment rate is very high. There are very many famous inventions and brands that have come from this course – “ice beer” was invented here, for example, and the world-famous brand Bewdog was started by two students who met on this course. May you be the next Bature Brewery (Nigeria) or Bateleur Brewery (Kenya), and take on the dominant South African brands? Africans are beginning to enjoy craft beer as much as Europeans and North Americans do, so there are many opportunities in Western and Eastern Africa in this growth industry. Imagine doing your homework brewing homemade beer while your roommate chews up 20 pages of modern history…and then you can get a well-paid job at the end of it – what a professional experience!  

  Viticulture and Oenology

By studying the wine department of Santa Rosa Junior College, you learn the science of grape growing and winemaking, and it is said to prepare you for the industry wine production. Santa Rosa Junior College is located in an area in California world-famous for the quality of its vines. If the alcoholic beverage industry interests you, but you know that you prefer the perhaps ‘more sophisticated’ wine sector over beers and spirits – then this could be the ideal program for you. Graduates choose to become vineyard managers, winegrowers, sommeliers, and many interesting professions in this discipline. They can even pursue a master’s and a doctorate in this subject (“…just call me ‘Dr. Wine’). Everyone knows about the quality of the South African vines and the industry there is quite well developed – with lots of jobs. But, did you know that Algeria and Morocco have been famous winemaking regions for many hundreds of years? Right back to the time of the Romans. And, if you are interested in the industry, then you may also know that  Ethiopia, Namibia, and now Madagascar are all also becoming internationally famous for their excellent produce. There are ‘growing’ opportunities all over Africa in this industry.


Want to fill your house with plants? Humans have had a pretty interesting relationship with plants for a long time. At the University of Kent, you can learn all of this as part of an Ethnobotany MSc. It explores how human society understands and responds to plants, how we use them, what we do to modify them, and much more. Plantastic.com offers a one-year master’s degree aimed at those interested in a career in the field of environment and botany, or who wish to conduct doctoral research.

     Ethical hacking

The words “ethical” and “hacking” make for an unlikely combination. But, at Abertay University in Dundee, you’ll find everything you need to know about hacking and cybersecurity in their Ethical Hacking course. If you’ve never worked in IT and online security, this degree will be new to you, but anyone who has done it will know all about it and how much money these people make. Ethical hackers are employed by banks, insurance companies, online shopping companies; and basically any other big business that has computer data to protect (so, that is all of them). They are employed to try and break their systems, find ways that they can be exploited, and find ways that data can be stolen. Imagine being paid to break things! As your career develops you may also find that your services become very in demand by government agencies, law enforcement, and the legal profession. There are many young hackers who understand that they can make a lot more money using their skills for companies, rather than working against them. This is a young person’s industry, with many owners of large international businesses being under the age of 30. Ethical Hacking, and cybersecurity in general, have very high graduate employment rates of 95%, according to the latest information from Discover University. While unusual degrees are certainly a niche, you never know where they will lead you. And, you might have a better chance of getting the job if you prove that you are an expert in your chosen field. Africa has a young population and as time passes, these sectors will all become more important. So, why not get there “first” and think about university studies in one of these streams or even other unusual subject areas?

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