When starting the process of applying to university, there are so many things to consider. You’ll have to think about which course to take, your required entry grades and writing a personal statement. When researching courses, you might also want to take a look at whether it is “with honours” or not. There is a difference between regular and honours degrees, which is important to understand so that you can apply to a course suited to you.
A degree with honours is a slightly more difficult version of a regular bachelor’s degree. Most courses in the UK are honours degrees, meaning you will need higher marks in order to achieve the same results. Usually, they contain the same content as other degrees but with more of an insight into the links between theory and real-life situations.
For more information about what an honours degree is, the different categories of honours degree and the differences between a regular and honours degree, keep reading.
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What is an honours degree?
In the UK, an honours degree is an undergraduate degree which includes a more rigorous learning programme. This can vary from country to country, but an honours degree always takes more work and requires higher marks than a regular bachelor’s degree. Keep reading for more details about honours degrees in the UK.
An honours degree can take different amounts of time depending on where you are. In Scotland, in order to receive the honours title, you must complete an entire extra year of study. However, in the rest of the UK, an honours degree takes the same amount of time but includes more research-orientated study.
With this in mind, across the UK, a bachelor’s degree can either take three or four years, depending on where it is you live and study. However, most degree courses in the UK are honours degrees anyway.
You do not need any pre-requisites to be able to take an honours degree. As long as you have the requirements for a regular bachelor’s degree course, you will be able to take the degree with honours if you wish. For this reason, you will not need to worry about whether you have the right grades or not because they are the same requirements either way.
Have a look at this Think Student article to see more about honours degrees as well as the other classifications of degree.
What does “with honours” mean?
When choosing a degree course, it can sometimes be difficult to work out whether the course is an honours degree or not. When looking at either the university website or their prospectus, you will notice that some degrees say, “with honours”. What this means is that the course is an honours degree.
If it is a single subject degree, it may say either BA(Hons) or BSc(Hons), which means with honours. Some courses are joint honours, which means students study two subjects at the same time. This Think Student article discusses whether joint honours degrees are more worthwhile than regular degrees.
What is a joint honours degree?
A joint honours degree combines two subjects of equal weightings. It is studied in the same amount of time as a single subject bachelor’s degree. Although it may seem as though this would be far too much work, the course does not go into as much detail with each subject. This means the same amount of content is covered as a regular bachelor’s degree.
In order to monitor the amount of content each student is studying, each module is made up of credits denoting the workload. As a student, you must study an exact number of credits each year, that number being 120 at all UK universities.
This number is made up of either just compulsory, or both compulsory and optional modules, depending on what you’re studying. For more information about how many credits must be studied each year, read this Open University article.
What’s the difference between a degree and a degree with honours?
As most UK degrees are automatically with honours, it is quite rare to find regular bachelor’s degrees. The major difference between honours and non-honours degrees is that a regular degree contains less professionally oriented content. In other words, it is pure theory, whereas an honours degree works to show the links between the degree content and real-life workplace situations.
Some students start their degree as honours students but end up with a regular degree. This is because another difference between the two is that you need higher marks to obtain an honours degree.
The final results of a degree are split into four different categories. Top marks will earn you a first honours, whilst the subsequent outcomes are a high second (2:1), a low second (2:2) and a third. This Think Student article looks at the university grading system in more detail.
However, if you achieve a lower number of marks than is required for a third, you will automatically be awarded a regular degree as opposed to a degree with honours. This Think Student article goes into more detail about what a first degree with honours actually is.