top of page

Compelling course descriptions

Pages that turn prospects into applicants

Writing course descriptions that attract and convert prospective students is one of the biggest challenges facing HE marketing teams. The competition is fiercer than ever before. Generic waffle or cut-and-paste from previous years won’t cut it. And the sheer volume of courses to be described places huge demands on your writing team.

Health check

Is your course copy toned or in need of a trim? Take our quick health check to assess your courses and diagnose your issues. If you’re not confident you’ve passed, it’s probably time to take action to get your courses in shape – and that’s where our 3Is approach can support you.

Course overview

Do your first couple of sentences inspire or intrigue a school leaver to read on?


Are they sector generic or are they specific to your university? The more tailored they are, the more impact they have.

Career paths

Do you have good examples of research or graduate destinations that add value to taking the course?


Have you backed up your claims with specific suppor points instead of relying on cliches like 'world-leading' or 'cutting-edge'?


Is the copy free from jargon? Is the language relatable to a 17-year-old who has never heard of a 'pathway' or 'setting'?

Tone of voice

Have you checked the copy is in line with your tone of voice? Does it reflect the university values?


Is the readability score right for your audience? We suggest it should have a Reading Grade level of less than 10.

Call to action

Are there clear calls to action as to what prospective applicants do next? ‘Order prospectus’ or simply ‘ask a question’?

The 3Is that initiate action

We work with our HE clients to create compelling course copy that attracts the best possible candidates for their university. We know our words only have minutes – even seconds – before students decide whether that institution will be part of their future.

Course descriptions are one of your most powerful tools for recruiting students. There are three key elements to a successful piece of copy:

3I's diagram v3.png




Course descriptions that initiate action


You’re (mostly) talking to young people with hopes and dreams. Course descriptions that tap into these emotions from the start engage readers much more successfully.


Compelling course descriptions go beyond the very literal (chemical engineering is…) and aspire to a more promising future (chemical engineering enables…). Some details about career paths at the beginning can help students (and parents) envision their future and possible career paths.


Aim to make them feel like they’ll reach their potential by studying with you. All without overpromising or overstepping the CMA guidelines.


Students are optimistic about their prospects. They're looking for courses that ignite their passion, with 47% stating "enjoying my job" as their top career goal (UCAS).


Course descriptions need specifics. Too often they’re stuffed with bland descriptions – ‘groundbreaking research’, ‘outstanding facilities’, ‘lots of opportunities to succeed’.


Instead, share your big research breakthroughs, explain how your facilities help students learn or tell them about annual events that help them meet employers. Paint a picture in their mind of what their experience will look like.


Rankings are important, but don’t rely on them to do all the work. Students will do their own research – your job is to show them why you’ve earned those rankings and explain what it means for them.


Interviewing subject leaders is the best way to mine for details. Often, they’ll say this:
Well, at Open Days I tell students they should study this course because…


And what they say next is like gold dust.


Academics are busy people and often hard to pin down.  But making the most of this precious opportunity will boost the quality of course descriptions drastically. What they share in a half-hour chat often includes brilliant details unknown to the marketing team and examples of everything from live projects to dissertation topics.


We interviewed over 125 academics last year for their insight and knowledge. 
Read our insight piece on the value of interviews

1000+ course descriptions created

Writing 200 course descriptions for Edge Hill University

With a brand new tone of voice, the marketing team knew it was time to tackle the mammoth task of rewriting all 200 of their course descriptions. As these were their top recruitment tool, they asked for our help in making them as engaging and persuasive as possible. And they needed all 200 courses to be on their new website within a couple of months.

Edge Hill - header image.jpg

How we work with you

Course description projects come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe you want to focus on subjects where recruitment is down. Or perhaps a new website launch means the whole lot needs a more extensive review. Whatever your challenge, we’ve got the experience you need to boost persuasive power.

  • Do you know what you want to achieve?
    Yes – Great. Tell us more then we’ll get a plan together, discuss your deadlines and get started. No – Don’t worry. That’s what scoping calls are for. We’d love to talk to you about your web content needs and what you want to achieve. Defining the brief before we start writing means you’ll be chuffed with the end result.
  • Have you got a sitemap?
    Yes – Get us up to speed, show us your sitemap and we’ll make recommendations along the way. If you have any niggling doubts, now is the time to speak up. Nailing the structure of your site is absolutely critical to your site’s success. No – It can seem daunting to know where to begin, but we can audit your current website, provide recommendations and start your sitemap from scratch. Getting the logic of your story right is the first step to achieving persuasive web content.
  • Is your tone of voice in good shape?
    Yes – Brilliant! We’d love to see your guidelines. We’ll start with a few sample pages to check you’re happy. Our writers will use their eagle eyes to hunt for opportunities to inject your personality on every page. No – Rebuilding or refreshing your website is a massive investment. Reviewing (or defining) your tone of voice before you start is a good place to start. We can help with this.
  • Is your source copy ready?
    Yes – Let us take a look and see what shape it’s in. We’ll probably ask you lots of questions at this point and check there isn’t any gaps before we start. Our writers off a fresh pair of eyes and identify where you could add value or help readers. No – Organising information can time consuming. Leaving us to the interview your experts can help us gather everything you need and make sure all the information is up to date. (read: The value of interviews. Why it's important to talk to people.)

Monkeys vs Robots. Can AI write courses?

There’s a proverbial saying that goes like this: “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Asking AI to write course descriptions sounds like a clever way to cut costs and save time, but the results will lack that human touch that connects with students. Not to mention it only uses information that already exists, so it won’t help you add those details that make all the difference.

Computer Circuit Board
bottom of page