Debunking the Myth: Studying Joint Honours


Joint honours degrees have become pretty popular, with applications on the rise every year. However there are still myths surrounding them, and many people have misconceptions of what a joint honours degree really entails. Here’s five of the most common myths debunked.

1. You only chose to do Joint honours because you couldn’t decide what course to do.

This is the big myth that needs to be busted. Admittedly, when applying to university I wanted to pursue both English Literature and History, but rather than feeling like I couldn’t choose, it never occurred to me that I should have to choose. Many people’s decision to pursue a joint honours degree is borne out of a fear of being pigeon-holed – at least it certainly was for me. At 18 I didn’t want to leave behind a subject I loved, and I certainly didn’t want to become an expert in one subject when I could choose to become an expert in two!

2. You only do half as much work for each course.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Whilst you only have to fulfil half the credits for each discipline, to think you only do half the work is laughable. You have as much to do as single honours students, if not slightly more as you have to work out how to balance your workload between two disciplines, whilst making sure that you’re satisfying both their requirements. Joint honours gives you the freedom to explore two disciplines in detail, and that certainly doesn’t happen by just skimming half of each course!

3. Employers won’t see you as a committed candidate.

On the contrary, employers will love the fact that you have successfully taken two subjects to degree level, which is no mean feat! Undertaking two subjects at a time is a challenge, but you become a more rounded candidate as a result, not to mention you acquire lots of buzzword-y type skills along the way such as multitasking, prioritising, time management, and flexibility.

4. You won’t be as good at one subject as someone who has studied only that subject.

There was definitely a time in my degree where I felt like I was doing badly at both disciplines, and that maybe I’d have been better off devoting my time to purely one subject. However, this gave me the drive I needed to make sure I was becoming a master of both subjects I was studying, as opposed to feeling like I was failing to give either subject the dedication it needed. It can be hard work, but if you’re passionate about both subjects, then you can excel at both.

5. You study a magical hybrid degree where both subjects live in perfect harmony at all times.

An accurate representation of joint-honours time-management. Image credit: Getty Images

Perhaps the biggest myth about joint honours is the notion that both subjects work together to make sure you have a smooth running, half and half degree. The opposite is true. I’ve had important talks about history dissertations that I’ve had to miss due to being in an English lecture at the same time, and friends have had to take time out from takeaway exams in order to go on campus and sit another exam in their other subject. Timetabling doesn’t necessarily always work in your favour, so its a lot more difficult than most people think.

Likewise, whilst you might choose joint honours because you aspire to be a mixture of your two subjects, your lecturers and markers won’t be quite so excited at the thought. Whilst learning two skills is exciting, and being able to master a combination of the two even more so, lecturers don’t often even know you are a joint honours student, and so expect your writing style to be as specific as a single honours student. For example I write in a way that is a decided hybrid of English Literature and History skills, however when writing essays I have to remind myself which subject I’m writing for and adjust my style accordingly, or risk losing marks.

But overall I wouldn’t change the course I’m studying, I love what I do. And now you have the tools to show people who ask you about these myths what being a joint honours student is really like.

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