What to expect in 2021: 5 hardest degrees in the UK
Be prepared for long hours in the lab if you decide Biological Sciences, one of the hardest degrees is for you. Source: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP

Getting a degree can be a great personal accomplishment, and it can help when competing with other recent graduates in the job market. International students abroad are faced with even greater challenges than getting a successful degree outcome — these recent grads are potentially competing for jobs in unfamiliar territory with some of the hardest degrees.

From Social Studies to Biological Sciences, below we take a look at some of the hardest degrees in the UK for 2021, and why they’re on the top of the list. Spoiler alert: Law is one of apparently one of the hardest degrees to complete — maybe that explains why law graduates never seem to get tired of reminding others what they studied. 


Law is a heavy workload, and it deserves to be number one on the list of hardest degrees. In law schools, teaching is based on the case study methods, which means real legal cases are discussed in class. From this you learn how to match case particulars, rulings and pre-existing laws exams. 

Law can be very fast-paced, if you miss out on one thing, you might fail the end-of-semester exam. Source: Oli Scarff/AFP

There is a lot of studying and understanding of complex law cases and it comes with loads of new terminology you’ve (probably) not used much before. You need a lot of focus, as the flow and structure of a law degree is fast-paced. The brain can only handle so much!

However, the upside of getting a law degree in the UK is it’s internationally recognised and it opens up an infinite amount of job opportunities to choose from — besides the obvious being a lawyer. Oh, and depending on the type of law you decide to pursue, the average wages of a lawyer in the UK might just be worth all your blood, sweat, and tears. 

Social Studies

Unlike rocket science, another on our list of hardest degrees, social studies is a much broader scope of subjects that includes history, political science, psychology, economics, sociology and geography. 

Research-heavy, laden with formulas and theories, there are an endless amount of topics to pursue. While only 14% of international students decide to pursue a social studies degree, they shouldn’t feel intimidated. Among some of the most employable degrees, 74% of social studies graduates go on to work right after uni, in areas that include public administration, defence, and education.


While education is essential, getting a degree in education can be quite the challenge! There are infinite pathways, and areas of study and interest. Many education majors often pair up their degree with another area of study and this means planning, studying, researching and organising two different courses therefore part of the list of hardest degrees. 

Education is a very broad degree, you need to have double majors to ensure a good career with an Education degree. Source: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Oh, and then there’s something that might dissuade even the most studious among us: Time. If your education degree takes you to teaching, your punctuality must be on point. Classes, reports, school-related activities. For some, it can be a make or break for a successful career. It will be worth all the work you put in — future educators can work to change education systems and inspire their students to achieve their dreams. 

Biological Sciences

Biological sciences — like social studies —  covers a very, very broad range of subjects. This can be good, if you know exactly what you want to study, or it can be frustrating, when you’re still unsure. Pursuing a biological sciences degree will stoke your curiosity, putting you with an eager bunch of cohorts, all trying to understand how the world around us works.

Still unsure if biological sciences is for you? Well, we’re not going to sugar-coat it for you: It’s hours of lab time and involves endless researching making it one of the hardest degrees. Heaven for some, quite tedious for others.  


If you’re expecting to be fluent in a new language by the time you graduate, you can get that out of your mind right now! Even after four years of intensely studying a language, you might not be as fluent as you’d expect. As a child, our minds soak up new and unfamiliar words; as adults, it gets harder. You’ll need to practice, practice, practice — and also probably live abroad for some time.  

Languages should be a lifetime passion, as it takes years to learn to be completely fluent. It’s therefore one of the hardest degrees to study. Source: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

There’s also the chance of limited job options after graduation. Understanding a language, literature and people is a tall order, but it provides you with a lifelong skill. Languages, being one of the hardest degrees, can also open doors for you internationally, where they are seeking bilingual individuals to work in companies.