The Most Unusual University Modules Around the World and Why They Matter | Top Universities

The Most Unusual University Modules Around the World and Why They Matter

By Chloe Lane

Updated April 20, 2021 Updated April 20, 2021

Have you ever wondered if you could study cannibalism at university? What about organized crime and corruption? Now you can. 

Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University is one of the few universities offering modules in the Cannibalism and Civilization, Organized Crime and Corruption, the Anthropology of Space, Nomads, and the Sociology of Covid-19

Gavin Slade, an Associate Professor of Sociology from Nazarbayev University’s Sociology and Anthropology Department, said: “These courses give students incredible perspective on the long duration of human history, human practices, and forms of societies that have existed throughout history.”

He added: “Students want to study unusual topics, so these courses get good feedback overall.” 

Are you interested in studying an unusual module? Here are just a few of the strangest modules offered by universities around the world:

Durham University: Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion

Harry potter

Studying Harry Potter at a UK university which looks practically identical to Hogwarts is the dream for many students. Luckily, you can now make this dream a reality. 

The Education department at Durham University offers a module in Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion. Wands at the ready: this module explores the social, cultural and educational context of Harry Potter and investigates why it became so popular.

The module also considers the relevance of the much-loved books to the modern-day education system and explores the links between Harry Potter and citizenship education.

It will also consider the ways the written word can be interpreted into different mediums and understand the influence fiction has on educational policy.

Kansas State University: Cereal Science


In a course entitled Bakery Science and Management, you will study the science and technology behind baked goods, developing skills in chemistry, mathematics and microbiology.

In the cereal science module, you might be disappointed to learn that you won’t simply be eating numerous bowls of cereal. Instead, you’ll be exploring the characteristics of cereals, legumes, their components and their processing to food. Slightly less exciting but much more useful when it comes to apply for competitive jobs in the food industry.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD): Comic Book Publishing

Comic book publishing

Comic Book Publishing is a module featured in MCAD’s course, Comic Art, which teaches students about the production and promotion of a comic book in print or in digital publishing. 

The module covers technical demonstrations in scanning, prepress procedures, printing and marketing collateral – ideal if you’re looking for a career in publishing.

London Metropolitan University: Forgetting of Air


Part of the School of Art, Architecture and Design, the master’s level module, Forgetting of Air, looks at the medium of air and how it is understood by the body and the mind in different contexts. 

The course aims to help students read into the cultural construction of the senses and the effect this has on the way we view architecture; understand the relevance of a critical, philosophical problem in the development of aesthetics in architecture and understand how the built environment is perceived.

Nazarbayev University: Paleontology


The ichthyosaur fossil at Nazarbayev University

Paleontology – the study of prehistoric life based on fossils -- might not sound like the strangest module out there, but an unusual situation arose in the module recently when Nazarbayev University was asked to rescue an ichthyosaur fossil, found in a Jurassic formation of the Uralsk region in Kazakhstan.

Laurent Richard, Associate Professor from Nazarbayev University’s School of Mining and Geosciences, said: “The fossil of the ichthyosaur, an extinct marine reptile, is 90 per cent complete, including the head, fins, ribs, and vertebrae.”

He added: “The fossil will be reassembled by the undergraduate Geology students and displayed in the school.”

Involving undergraduate students in this conservation effort “will develop a sense of responsibility among the students” said Richard, “as they are participating in a conservation effort to keep the geological patrimony of Kazakhstan within the country.”

Cornell University: Winemaking Theory and Practice


Part of their Viticulture and Enology course, Cornell University offers a course in winemaking theory and practice which helps students understand the non-fermentation aspects of wine production.

Although this might not be a class you look forward to taking after a heavy night out, this course is useful if you’re looking to become a viticulturist (an expert in the scientific study of grapes and their production for wine and food) or an enologist (an expert in the science of wine). 


So, why are unusual courses so popular amongst students? Slade explained how the unusualness of these modules can help students stand out to future employers. 

He said: “Students taking these courses demonstrate their curiosity, their ability to think outside of the box, see issues from multiple perspectives, and show the breadth of their learning on their degree program.”

This article was originally published in November 2020 . It was last updated in April 2021

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