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Royal Navy Vs University


War Hero
My understanding is along the lines of what shipsnthat has said. I am under the impression that a History degree is highly thought of (amongst potential employers) due to the analytical skills developed during the degree study. I would think that an 'historical' background at degree level would have similar worth to a 'political' one for one-stars, but hasten to add that is as yet a somewhat unqualified comment.

Ask me again in six years :lol: .


Lantern Swinger
But surely the OP's question, which seems to have got forgotton about, is whether he should go to Uni in the first place - not what the merits of a History degree are, which is what this thread has turned into!

OP to be honest I think I would do your AIB but still apply to Uni - if you pass the AIB and you get a Uni place then I guess your original question stands; you can always not go to Uni but you can't if you've not a applied for a place.

What does your parents think?


War Hero
cadetsmum said:
But surely the OP's question, which seems to have got forgotton about, is whether he should go to Uni in the first place - not what the merits of a History degree are, which is what this thread has turned into!

OP to be honest I think I would do your AIB but still apply to Uni - if you pass the AIB and you get a Uni place then I guess your original question stands; you can always not go to Uni but you can't if you've not a applied for a place.

What does your parents think?

Good thinking Batman..................To the Uni via the AiB robin :p


How about applying to a Uni with a URNU? That way you could get your degree, but also experience a tiny snippet of watered-down Navy life & you get payed. Plus there's alot of inter unit sports and stuff so you could add something extra to your Officer application when the time comes.



Thought id throw my 2 pence in......

I graduated last summer with a degree in ancient History, and am currently awaiting an AIB date (im told september) for Logs.

Discarding the argument about the relative worth of Degree "X" over "Y", and where you attain said degree, the important thing for you to do is to have a really good sit down and weigh up the pros and cons of both YOUR options. All of this depends on you....

If you enjoy History that much then studying it at Universtiy would be an incredibly worthwhile experience. Personally, my three years at University were invaluable in the way i changed views about myself and more importantly the world around me. Being an Undergrad doesnt have to mean heavy drinking, stupiduty and (occasional) nudity. Its a time for higher learning in every sense of the word. Iv changed significantly for the better from the manchild i was at 18.

This is not to say that joining the RN at 18 wouldnt have precisely the same effect, but remember that it is a full time job and a lifestyle. Personally working in a high pressure environment in a position of authority- no matter how junior- at 18/19 wouldnt have been worthwhile for me.

There will be financial issues to take note of also, my student debt is sizeable but not uncontrollable.

I know gents who had Bursaries from the RN to help with fees through Uni. Would this be an option?? While some have subsequently joined and been given control of an aircraft, others had changes of heart and didnt join at all.

Try and distinguish the difference between the end result of the degree classification and the job possibilities afterwards, and the actual act of studying and scholarship. Which of these two things do you want? And remember it is possible to have both.....

I know this is a re-hash of what many have already said, but chances are you already have an inkling of which way you wish to go anyway, youre just looking for someone to help.

I apologise for sounding preachy, and wish you all the best in your decision
Any degree from a respectable academic institution certifies that you have shown the ability to find, collate and absorb information, analyse it and produce effective conclusions and recommendations involving some aspects of decision-making and problem-solving. It also demonstrates that, at least to some extent, you have been able to live independently.

The benefits of entering the RN as an officer with a degree are considerable in terms of advanced seniority, increased earnings and potentially accelerated promotion. The benefits of leaving the RN with a degree are also considerable in terms of your CV having a widely understood base to supplement your 'transferable skills' and experience, especially those of a Warfare Officer. The latter are sometimes tricky to equate to a civilian working environment (e.g. 'managing weapons systems' can easily be misinterpreted as handling a rifle). If a prospective employer has ten candidates for a job including one without a degree, which ones do you think are more likely to be short-listed?

Whatever you do, go for a degree at some stage. I was 48 by the time I acquired mine because only then was I in a billet that allowed me to attend night school and residentials for three years, all at my own expense. Had my circumstances been different, I'd have done it before joining the RN or at least much earlier in my career.


Lantern Swinger
Tomahawk, great choice of A levels (same as I did). History is a great degree (I did that, too).

University is a great experience, and something that you will never regret doing, whether you join up or not (people change, as do their ambitions). And in this day and age a degree is not an optional extra. The thought processes and analytical skills you learn at uni will stand you in good stead in the RN.

I really can't overstate it enough.

Top tip- find a uni with an URNU and go there. That way you get to wear blue and go to sea whilst a student.


I myself have just finished A-levels and decided, after many weeks of indesicion, to go straight into the navy at 18. I agree totally with P2000 when he states ''And in this day and age a degree is not an optional extra.'', and will be getting a degree through the Open University as I fully except that when the time comes to leave the Navy for whatever reason, a degree is really necessary for other jobs that i may wish to do. However, I felt that Uni would only benefit me so much at this point, that said this is not because I am not academic, far from it, but in reality I wanted to start my career sooner rather then later, having got a reserved place before I did my A-levels I did not want to give it up just to do something that I can do once I'm in the navy! However, as nearly everyone else has said there are pros and cons to both sides and you have to do whats right for you.

Oh and contreversially I know the head boy of my school went to Oxford, did a degree in both history and politics and after a year and a half still cant find a job!


I wish I had of had the opportunity to go to university for three years at the age of 18. I joined the RN at the age of 17 instead.

Despite the much publicised criticisms of 'modern' degrees, having one is now almost essential for many different career paths.

Moreover, if degrees today are too easy or 'watered down' what does that say about the job candidate who doesn't have one of these 'easy' qualifications.

Don't rely on having the time whilst serving to complete a degree. The normal OU route takes around 6 years (I was lucky and managed it in 4.5).

It's a personal decision but I would go to university first and then join the RN.

Novocastrian - BA(Hons) History First Class Honours (Open)


Lantern Swinger
Thanks for all the advice. I'm looking at the Cadetship route but I understand that's very hard to get on to. I've got a second interview at the careers office at the end of Aug so I'm going to see what they say then. I probably will do the AIB anyway but at the minute I'm exploring the various options.


Tomahawk said:
Thanks shipsnthat, thats really good advice and I will take that onboard :)

To all those people saying why take history instead of politics:
1. I enjoy History
2. History is a subject I am passionate about and would enjoy doing at Uni.
3. A degree is not needed to be a Warfare Officer, therefore how much better is Politics compared to History
when becoming one.

Cadetsmum, I decided to drop politics before I got my results as it is my least useful subject and the one I enjoy the least. (I do enjoy it but not as much as the other ones.)

1 & 2. are the same point..
3. Therefore..why waste your time going for a degree anyway? Join up and see if you can't do it later.


johansen said:
The only good reason to study History at uni is for all of the free time you will have. You will have say 6 hours of lectures per week (if you attend).

True, but a History student is expected to do a lot of individual studying. You can only learn so much through lectures/seminars. The average History undergrad is expected to put around 15-20 hours of work, out of class. Not all plain sailing. Good fun nonetheless. :)

If you do choose to go to uni and go forward with your AIB, you will no doubt be avised to join an URNU, if your chosen university has one, that is.

The reason that the Royal Navy is keen for Warfare Officers to join pre-20 is because the crunch time for OOW jobs, where much more time is spent at sea away from home, collides with the age that graduate candidates (those who joined aged 24-25) are beginning to think about a family life. They are finding that the balance wins in the favour of family and are therefore losing a fair few warfare officers.

To combat this, throughout initial training, non-graduates gain a Foundation Degree in Naval Studies, from Plymouth University, the points from this can then be carried over to the Open University to a full honours degree (albeit within agreed subjects). The PWO Course is now accredited to Masters Level with a small amount of additional work. This is the route that I am currently undertaking/intend to undertake, for me I feel it was the right decision, and instead of going to university for the sake of getting a degree and then joining the Royal Navy, I have got myself where I wanted to be 4 years early.

It does have its disadvantages, I am effectively tied to the Royal Navy for longer than my return of service, as I will have to wait much longer, and work a bit harder to complete an Honours degree. However in my experience so far I believe that I have made the right decision. If you have a degree beforehand you may well find that in your Initial Training/being an OOW (as you certainly will be for some time in the early stages of your career) and the Royal Navy are not for you, with a degree you would be in a position to leave at the end of your RoS, and find a new career.

It is very much an individual's choice, I do not believe that a degree necessarily creates a better candidate, nor is a younger candidate a better candidate. If you are going for Warfare I would not count on getting a cadetship, they are extremely hard fought over.
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