Is a Joint Honours Degree Better Than a Standard Degree?

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If you’re about to apply to university you may be wondering what the benefits are of studying a joint honours degree rather than a standard degree. This article will compare the two types of degrees while providing a list of advantages and disadvantages for each. Both degrees will be looked at in great detail, hopefully leading to many of your questions being answered so that you can make an informed decision on which degree is best for you.  

In theory a joint honours degree can be better than a standard degree if both subjects you combine link very closely. Employability could potentially increase because of your increased knowledge in multiple subjects. Balancing two subjects and a fully timetable demonstrates great time management which is skill employers value greatly.

Disclaimer: This article does not give the definite answer to whether a joint honours degree is better than a standard degree. This article is the opinion of a single student and shouldn’t be taken as fact. This article is designed to help your understanding of each degree and present the benefits of each so you can make the best decision for you.

Deciding the best degree for you may be challenging and it will require some research, but do not stress. I suggest that you continue to read this article, so that you can gain more useful information about each type of degree. 

What is a Joint Honours Degree?

A joint honours degree allows you to study more than one subject by merging them together to form one single qualification. Contrary to popular belief, a joint honours degree will not typically take longer than a standard degree. Regardless of which you choose a full-time degree will typically be 3 or 4 years.

When taking a joint honours degree, you have the option to study a subject you excelled at in sixth form college and combine it with a new unexplored subject. With this degree, you will be studying both subjects in an equal manner. To clarify further, you study half of one subject and half of the other, side by side.  

Advantages of a Joint Honours Degree

A joint honours degree allows you to explore new subjects you have yet to study, whilst also being able to have the comfort of studying something that you are already passionate about. By studying two different subjects, it may help you stay entertained, as there will be a wider range of knowledge explored during your degree.

Studying a joint honours degree will inevitably give you more breadth in your set of skills since you are studying two different subjects. It is likely that you will have more choice for modules and more options for jobs after you graduate. Even if you prefer one over the other that is not an issue. 

Another benefit would be the social aspect and opportunity to make friends at university maybe easier which doing a joint honour degree. This is due to the fact you’re studying multiple subjects, so you may get a wider variety of students on your course. You also may be in different areas of your campus which could increase the amount of people you interact with. It will also be refreshing to not permanently be in the same environment.

If you find that in your first year that you prefer one subject over the other then you can opt to do more modules in that subject, hence the joint honours degree gives you extra freedom.  

When it comes to writing a dissertation, you may find that doing a joint honour degree enables you to have more choice on what to write about, inevitably making your dissertation more interesting.

Disadvantages of a Joint Honours Degree

A disadvantage with opting for a joint honours programme is that you might feel torn between two faculties and struggle to balance your two subjects equally. You may favour one over the other and find trouble in dedicating your time between the two.  

In addition, your timetable may seem more fuller due to your focus being split on two subjects, as opposed to just one. You will likely have double the feedback sessions and often clashing deadlines that can result in feeling stressed and overworked. Therefore, it is easy to then feel envious of single honour students since they only need to focus on their one subject.

There is a lot of background work you must do to make sure you understand the subject. You must also consider that buying books, resources, equipment, and stationery for both your subjects maybe become more expensive.

What is a Standard Degree?

A standard degree is where you study only one subject, or you study one major with a minor subject.  

When searching for different courses to choose you may come across one with the title that includes ‘with’, it is likely to be a major or minor degree, e.g., engineering with maths. In this example the major part the degree is engineering, so you will spend more time studying this than the minor part, which is maths in this case.  

Advantages of a Standard Degree

The advantages of studying a standard degree are self-explanatory. You will get to increase your skill set onto one subject which will help catapult your career after university if you choose to go onto that specific field. Having only one subject to focus is generally a lot easier than dividing your focus on two.

Disadvantages of a Standard Degree

You may feel like your options are limited by only studying one subject, especially if you have an interest in multiple subjects and can’t decide which to study. Also, you may feel drained and become resentful of your own passions once they start to feel like work and you associate them as being a chore. Students often report that after studying a degree they have a really good understanding on whether they like a subject or not. This can be a disadvantage of a standard degree because if you realise you don’t like a subject you don’t have another subject to distract you.

How to Choose Between Joint Honours and a Standard Degree?

Choosing one degree over the other does not hold any disadvantages, as it all depends on how you utilise either degree which determines the success of it.  

During applications you may find that they only accept a small number for the joint honours’ degrees due to the increasing demand and over subscription because as you can tell, it is a popular option.  

You might be wondering, which is more difficult to take, but a joint honour degree will be the same exact workload as a standard degree. The number of modules you take will be the same as you are studying half of your two courses.  

You must ensure that your university provides you with much support if you are struggling to balance your subjects so that you do not feel over worked. However, a disadvantage may be that your teachers forget you are studying two different subjects, hence why the workload may seem like a lot at first which could be considered a disadvantage. 

Both degrees are considered pretty equal, especially in academic ability, so the main deciding factor is the subjects you have available to study.

How to Choose the Right Subject Combination for a Joint Honours Degree?

Your choices very much depend on what you are passionate about and what you thrive in. However, you should make your choices logically and with practicality. Your subject choices should preferably correlate with your aspired career.  

The two subjects do not have to be highly related, however I recommend that you choose subjects that are interrelated and overlap in some elemental way.  

You will have to be aware that by choosing a subject combination that is very different from each other, such as Maths and Art, may prove to be difficult. It would not make sense to choose them as they do not overlap. You may find an overwhelming workload as often your teachers may forget that you study another subject as well. On the other hand, a good example would be choosing subjects like Psychology and Sociology. This would be a great combination as they link closely together.

Furthermore, it is vital that you do research regarding your subject choices so that they align with your career choices, this will help you get a job. You are unlikely to get a job in a bank with an Art degree but may get a job as an interior designer with an Art degree, so make sure you tailor your degree to your desired career path. 

Which Degree Do Potential Employers Value More?

When it comes to graduation, you may be pleasantly surprised that upon studying a joint honour degree, there might be more job opportunities obtainable based on the broadness of what you have studied.  

Therefore, a joint honours degree could duplicate your chances in the job market. Employers constantly emphasise the significance of graduates to be adaptable and organised in a professional work environment.  

Joint honour students are rewarded with potentially more career options after graduation because of their contrasting skills obtained by studying multiple subjects. The ability to switch between different types of work is highly valuable. The employability marker is progressively holding value on flexibility, so having the capability of dividing your time and fliting between two different subjects will pay off after you leave. 

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