Hospitality, leisure and tourism are vast subject areas that will give you the grounding to work in a variety of sectors. From managing your local sports centre or hotel, to planning around-the-world itineraries of cruise ships, a degree in any of these three subjects will give you the edge in this glamorous and popular industry.
Whichever strand of hospitality, leisure, and tourism you pursue, you’ll need a similar set of skills to stand out. Once you graduate, you’ll be fully equipped with commercial and business skills, customer service, rapid thinking, working in high-pressure environments, and superb communication skills. As a collection of attributes, they’ll make you an attractive candidate for almost any job in any sector.
Despite being a very popular subject, the entry requirements to study hospitality, leisure, and tourism are relatively low. There are no specific subjects required by most universities, although if you have studied a travel and tourism course then your application would certainly stand out. You should also consider business, geography, and languages.
As for your skills, you’ll want to show that you have the right personality and character to study hospitality, leisure, and tourism. You should demonstrate good communication, an open mind, the ability to problem solve, multi-task, and manage.
A levels – Entry requirements range from CDD to BBC, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for BBC.
Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBC to ABBBB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring BBBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for BBB.
Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.
- Apply by the January deadline
- Personal statement
- Attend an interview
- Show work experience
- Audition for a place
- Pass an entry test
- Submit a portfolio
While all three subjects are generally about making sure that customers have the best experience, they all concern slightly different areas. Hospitality is primarily about hotels, bars, and restaurants. Leisure is often about events, sports centres, and multi-purpose venues. Tourism is about domestic and international travel, including sightseeing and attractions.
Hospitality, leisure, and tourism will give you the skills you need to be in-demand all over the world. Whether you’re working for one of the big travel companies, or you’d like to join a restaurant chain or a hotel group, the skills acquired during your degree will make you an attractive candidate across the board. Many hospitality, leisure, and tourism graduates will eventually go on to become owner-managers of their own businesses.
You’ll pick up sector-specific skills like currency fluctuation, volume buying, and exhibition planning, that will stand you in good stead to make a name for yourself. But it’s the wider skills that make hospitality, leisure, and tourism such valuable degrees to have, including accounting, management, planning, strategy, and marketing. There are few other subjects which will give you so many transferable skills and still make you a specialist.
Some modules you may study are:
- Transport economics and policy
- The digital customer experience
- Sustainable tourism
- Exhibitions and events
- Special interest tourism
- Global planning and logistics
- Bed and room management
- Hospitality policies
Of course – tourism can be about the country, city or even village that you’re in. It can be focussed on the local area, or even if it about international tourism, it might be an organisational or administrative job that’s done from a local office. Generally, you won’t need to travel, though having a healthy interest helps.
If you’re looking to stay within the hospitality, leisure, and tourism sector, you’ll be in pole position for jobs including:
But your wider skills will also open doors including:
Careers in hospitality, leisure, and tourism are challenging, rewarding, and exciting. When your week might range from setting events up, to welcoming international travellers, to planning flights and accommodation on the other side of the world, you need to be able to cope with a lot of competing priorities. Your studies will prepare you for this, because studying hospitality, leisure and tourism will also be a busy but fun experience.
You’ll be spending a lot of time in the classroom, as you master the basics of how these unique businesses run. There are theories to learn, rules and regulations to master, and strategies to remember. But don’t expect it to all be book learning and uncomfortable chairs, you’ll almost certainly have the opportunity to put your academic knowledge into practice during an industry placement. Whether as a short-term project or a year out, make sure that you take the opportunity to get some real business experience on your CV, to stand out in what can be a very competitive job market.
Hospitality, leisure, and tourism undergraduates can expect the following tasks during their studies:
- writing reports and essays
- attending lectures and seminars
- hearing from industry speakers
- placements and industry experience
- project and team work.
Are you considering an accelerated degree? Click here to read more about the possibility of completing your undergraduate course in two years rather than three.
If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.
Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.
Higher apprenticeships (Level 4)
Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)
Discover more about apprenticeships in travel, leisure, sport and hospitality
Our guide has all the info you need to know about doing an apprenticeship in this industry. Find out what it's really like from current apprentices and decide if it's the right route for you.