What is marketing?
Marketing is essential for any person or business that wants to be known. From Apple to Oxfam, the art of communicating with people is the secret to success for most brands in the world. Marketing is an extremely broad subject, combining creativity with analytical skills, to understand exactly what makes a customer tick, and how to reach them.
Whilst it’s not all about selling, marketing is fundamentally about promoting the value of something to somebody. It draws on psychology, sociology, marketing, and politics to anticipate what customers are going to need, and then get ahead of the game. A degree in marketing will give you a wide variety of skills, and set you up with a career for life.
Other career options for marketing graduates include events management, business development, sales, design, and retail. The amount of skills you’ll master during marketing will give you a foot in the door of most jobs that don’t require a high degree of specialism.
The good news for students is that marketing degrees have some of the most flexible entry requirements. As it’s such a varied subject, there are lots of routes in, so any combination of A levels with good grades should be enough to get you a conditional offer. If you’re applying for one of the more competitive universities, then subjects like English, media studies, and business will be best for your application.
Assessment of your application will be much more focused on soft skills. Talents like creativity and communication are highly valued in marketing agencies, along with flexibility, working under pressure, research, analytics, and thinking outside the box. Try to demonstrate these in your personal and professional experience.
- Apply by the January deadline
- Personal statement
- Submit a portfolio
- Audition for a place
- Attend an interview
- Pass an entry test
- work experience
What's the difference between sales and marketing?
Why study marketing at university?
Marketing is a business-focused subject, so you’ll be exposed to much more than just creativity. You’ll learn how to set budgets, find new customers, enter international markets, and decide on prices or profits. Marketing degrees will also call for strong presentation, debating, and communication skills – useful in any job. 96% of marketing graduates will find themselves employed or in further study soon after uni, earning an average of £20k in their first role.
Marketing isn’t going anywhere soon, either. With the rise of smartphones, streaming services, social media, and new technologies, the need for advertising has never been higher. As a graduate, you’ll know how to capture the attention of an audience and convince them to take an action. If you opt for a BA in marketing, you’ll focus on the creative and communication side. For a BSc, you’ll master big data and analytics.
Some modules you may study are:
- Market research
- Consumer behaviour
- Public relations
- Quantitative methods
- Digital marketing
- Marketing ethics
- Decision science
What can you do with a marketing degree?
A marketing degree can lead to hundreds of different careers, with the most common being:
- digital marketing
- social media
- public relations
A levels – Entry requirements range from CDD to BBB, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for BCC.
Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBBB to AABBB, 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 AA.
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.
What's it like to study marketing?
A marketing degree will introduce you to a variety of creative and analytical skills, along with lots of business topics. You might spend your morning learning calculations to set an annual budget, and your afternoon coming up with catchy slogans for a campaign. You need to be flexible and open-minded.
Studying marketing will demand less of your time than other degrees – around 11 hours per week – which will give you plenty of time for self-study and meeting your classmates for those group projects. A marketing degree also calls for a lot of contemporary industry knowledge, so conducting your own research and keeping up-to-date with live case studies will also take up some of your time.
You’ll also learn in a variety of ways, and environments. The traditional lectures and seminars will help you master theories, as will the essays and reports you write. But alongside this, there’ll be presentations, recordings, group work, case studies, and live projects.
Marketing is normally a three-year BA degree. This can be longer if your university offers placement years in business – something you should seriously consider, because the marketing graduate scene is very competitive. Some universities also offer a BSc option, which is generally more geared to the quantitative, analytical, and financial side of marketing.
In your first year, you can expect to master the fundamental topics of marketing, like branding, research, digital, public relations, and budgeting. Your second and third years will offer specialisms, which may include international marketing, services marketing, events, or management.
Studying a marketing degree will likely involve:
- writing reports and essays
- attending lectures and seminars
- hearing from business speakers
- placements and industry experience
- projects, presentations, and group 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.
Find out more about apprenticeships across the UK.
There are over 30 apprenticeships in the sales, marketing, and procurement sector available in England, with more in development.
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)
- Buying and merchandising assistant
- Commercial procurement and supply (formerly public sector commercial professional)
- Marketing executive
- Public relations and communications assistant
- Retail manager
- Sales executive
Degree apprenticeships (Levels 5 – 7)
- Assistant buyer/Assistant merchandiser
- Business to business sales professional (degree)
- Digital marketer integrated degree
- Marketing manager
- Retail leadership degree apprenticeship
Discover more about apprenticeships in marketing and sales
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.