Course director defends Birmingham horology degree after skit labels it among the most useless qualifications in the UK


An article listing ‘The Most Useless Uni Degrees in the UK’, published on Vice.com, sees associate editor Daisy Jones take aim at Birmingham City University’s Horology degree amongst others.

Jeremy Hobbins, Horology Course Director at the university, asked WatchPro for an opportunity to set the record straight, and we happily agreed.


She cites no real reason other than to suggest that watches are for only “really rich people or rappers”, and that anyone who understands how to fix clocks belongs firmly in the Victorian Era, Mr Hobbins writes.

Jeremy Hobbins - School of Jewellery | Birmingham City University
Jeremy Hobbins.

To her credit, Daisy does suggest in the tongue-in-cheek review that she wouldn’t be averse to dating a horologist however, as she finds the study of Horology “kind of hot actually”, and that a student of the subject might “know what to do with their hands”. I’m certainly not going to argue with her on the last two points, but I must argue against her assertion that the course is a useless degree.

I am grateful to Daisy Jones for drawing the nation’s attention to the only course of its kind in the world, but sadly she then shows her complete lack of understanding of what students gain from studying the course.

The BCU BA Horology course allows students to gain a degree level education whilst acquiring specialist skills that make them highly employable. The degree encourages academic exploration of the subject at the same time as the opportunity to gain specialist skills, and like all degrees allows students to gain the transferable skills necessary to gain graduate-level employment.

It’s a very specialist area admittedly, and so a small course by comparison to others. However, this year there’s been a bumper intake of new students with a 15% increase year-on-year for the last three years that would suggest that the degree is appealing to those seeking a rewarding career.

Despite the ravages of COVID-19, the students have returned to continue their studies with huge enthusiasm and excitement, and all have huge smiles behind their face masks.

Not surprising really, as graduates of the course have a range of career opportunities all of which can be high earning in a very secure industry, but they can also choose to use their degree to pursue other career paths having spent three years studying a subject that really interested them.

If Daisy is keen to catch up with a “hot “horologist, we have graduates looking after the British Museum collection, maintaining the Great Clock of Westminster, heading up Watch Servicing Departments for major brands, as well as working as specialist antique restorers at large and small retail organisations.

A large number of the prestigious watch brands have our graduates working for them, and all of these alumni would not be working for such organisations if our education was not of the standard they require. Most graduates of the course find employment either during or quickly after their studies have finished.

In addition to secure employment in a subject area they enjoy, the majority are well rewarded for their efforts, as most start with salaries noticeably higher than the typical graduate starting point. This higher income potential, coupled with the acquisition of specialist skills make the study of horology more than just appealing to Victorians and the rich, but as the global growth in mechanical timekeeping indicates, it is a subject that appeals to a huge demographic and not just to those that look to their phones for the time.

I warmly invite Daisy to retract her comments and come and visit us here at Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery, or better still sign up for our degree to fully understand that it is a subject worth getting a degree in, not least because we do indeed know what to do with our hands.

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  1. Quite very sad a notion from Daisy, she really should know better than her drivel! The UK is full of dead industries and to have an horological institute us an extremely fruitful reality… Does she wear a watch or know how to tell the time at all? She definitely doesn’t know what time it is!

  2. Quite very sad a notion from Daisy, she really should know better than her drivel! The UK is full of dead industries and to have an horological institute is an extremely fruitful reality… Does she wear a watch or know how to tell the time at all? She definitely doesn’t know what time it is!

  3. Why would it be less useful than any Art or literature based degree?

    I tend to think of degrees as being an indication of an interest and dedication to studying and learning more about something, rather than being purely the means to obtaining a job.

  4. Whilst the article written by Daisy Jones may be ‘tongue in cheek’ to some extent, it just emphasises her lack of both knowledge and understanding regarding all things horological.
    Great rebuttal by Mr Hobbins, and fair play to Watch Pro for allowing him his right to reply

  5. This is a highly specialised skill requiring skill, accuracy and a hand as steady as any surgeon.
    We are dealing with micro-mechanics which are not for the faint hearted as well as a dying trade.
    Watch lovers tend to love old vintage mechanical watches and need someone that knows what they are doing, to them having a trusted Horologist is like going to a trusted Doctor. I can think of many degrees that i would consider useless, however i am sure many people could prove to me their validity

  6. There are I’m sure some degrees which some would say are not worth the paper they’re printed on, this degree is both practical and specialist with Watchmakers always in demand. The horological industry has some of the most amazing engineer minded Watchmakers like Michel Parmigiani, Stephen Forsay, Roger Smith to name a few. Passionate, innovative and genius in there thinking, and craftsmanship.. Long may we all support both these and future Watchmakers that create and maintain items of such beauty and intricateness.

  7. Jeremy what a wonderful response. It saddens me that Daisy can’t see the potential of Horological education. I hope she takes you up on your offer to go to BCU and has a go herself!


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