A guide to studying Audiology at university - including what to expect, reasons to consider the subject area, application tips and a careers overview.
What is Audiology?
Audiology is the study of hearing, which is a specialist profession within medicine and health. The ear, or more precisely, the inner ear, is also involved in maintaining balance, therefore in medical terms, audiology is the branch of medical science dedicated to the study of hearing, balance and their associated disorders. Watch this section on the video from 01:04 to 01:40
Why consider studying Audiology at university?
Audiology is a rapidly developing field. Hearing loss is a chronic medical condition, approximately 16% of the population have a significant hearing impairment, indicating that work in this field is an important area of medical practice, both within the National Health Service and independent sector and for health research.
Clinical audiologists work with a team of professionals from different disciplines to assess, diagnose and treat or manage patients with hearing or balance problems. Whilst audiology is a specialist area in itself, there are also further areas of specialisms including paediatrics, adult hearing assessment and rehabilitation, special needs groups, vestibular and balance assessment and rehabilitation, research and development and education.
Audiologists are involved in the whole patient journey - from assessment to through to rehabilitation and beyond, making this an extremely rewarding career. Recent research has also shown that improving an individual’s hearing can help prevent more serious health conditions and consequences such as dementia, falls and hospital admissions, further adding to the benefits that can be made to people’s lives.
Audiology is a profession suited to students with interests in:
- Biological and physical sciences – as an understanding of the audiology anatomy and physiology will be vital.
- Technology – hearing aid technology is rapidly advancing, for example, digital aids now have bluetooth technology and compatibility with ‘smart’ devices.
- Psychology – as communication and counselling skills are crucial to support people with hearing impairment themselves or carers of people with hearing difficulties.Watch this section on the video from 01:40 to 04:44
What to expect if you study Audiology at university?
Audiology usually sits within a school of medicine, typically taught within research rich, medical or science focused environments. The curriculum is taught by audiologists as well as scientists and clinicians from different specialities and research areas. Patients and carers are a key part of teaching and are involved throughout the course.
Audiology courses integrate science, technology, psychology and clinical learning. Typically, in the early years of training, students will build up their knowledge of anatomy and physiology, audiological assessments and disorders, professionalism and patient centred care. Students will be taught how to assess and take a history from patients; many courses have clinical placements in the first year, enabling students to start putting the knowledge and skills gained into practice. Learning technology, such as on-line realistic patient simulations are used to help access and develop understanding of key information both on and off campus.
In the later stages of audiology degree courses, students spend more time on clinical placements developing and integrating theoretical and clinical knowledge while also extending technical, research and clinical skills.
Each Audiology programme is different with variations in the curriculum, but all lead to the same outcomes as required by accrediting and approval bodies to ensure that audiology graduates are competent to practice. Watch this section on the video from 04:44 to 06:38
Application tips for Audiology courses at university
Audiology is a highly specialist area and it is important that prospective audiology students understand what it is and what is involved. As well as testing patients, analysing test results and programming digital hearing devices, Audiologists spend a lot of time talking with and counselling patients.
Prospective students should consider where they would like to study, there are different types of Audiology courses, and each course has slightly different academic requirements and structure. Students should review university websites and sign up for open days and webinars to help with their decisions.
Audiology course admission tutors use student’s academic record, UCAS application form, personal statement and references to select students for interview. Interviews are usually multiple mini-interview (MMI) format, either face to face or virtually and involve the candidate being asked a series of questions by different interviewers. Typically, the interviewers ask behavioural and situational questions and discuss the student’s motivation and understanding of the profession and may include role play – acting out a situation with a role player. Watch this section on the video from 06:38 to 10:08
Why consider a career in Audiology?
Undergraduate Audiology is the start of a lifelong career of helping people and learning. Audiologists often work with patients throughout their whole patient journey, helping babies and children to hear - supporting their language and educational development, and giving people back the ability to communicate with family and friends and interact with their environment. Audiology is a hugely rewarding career, the range of roles is very varied and is continually stimulating.
Employment prospects are excellent as Audiologists will always be needed. Audiology graduates can work in the NHS or as a hearing aid dispenser in the independent sector.
Some audiologists have both clinical and educational roles, supporting trainee audiologists on placement. With appropriate further training and development, audiologists can reach consultant level within the NHS. Audiologists also work in universities where jobs are primarily concerned with teaching and research.
Audiology is a profession that is suited to people with an interest in science, technology, psychology, medicine and health and want to make a difference to people’s lives. Watch this section on the video from 10:08 to 11:47
With thanks to the webinar speakerDr Ruth Brooke, Associate Professor in Audiology at the University of Leeds
Jon Cheek, Founder and Director, UniTasterDays.com