There are a lot of preconceptions and assumptions when it comes to discussing joint honours degrees. Treat this blog as an answer to some of these – from the perspective of a joint honours student himself!
What is a ‘joint honours’ degree?
A joint honours degree, or ‘combined honours’, is a course which allows you to study more than one subject for your degree qualification. It’s usually easy to tell a joint honours degree by the course title. Degrees with an ‘and’ in the title involve a 50/50 split between two subjects, while courses including a ‘with’ in the title are major/minor courses, involving a 75/25 split. Some exceptions include PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) which balance three subjects three ways.
What subjects can I choose?
Unlike some universities, which give students free rein over subject choices for joint honours, King’s tailors joint honours degrees options to subjects which complement each other well, whilst still offering a huge amount of choice. All the departments within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences offer joint honours courses. The Dickinson Poon School of Law also offers joint degrees which allow students to study between different awarding institutions (for example, a joint degree in English Law & American Law, with the latter half based abroad at an American university).
Are joint honours degrees harder?
Joint honours courses are no harder than single-subject courses. The number of modules you take will be the same as the single-subject equivalent, only divided between the two (or more) subjects. My course, for example, BA English with Film Studies, dedicates three modules per semester to English and one per semester to Film Studies. Single honours English students also do four modules per semester, so the workload is the same.
If balancing two or more different subjects is a worry, fear not! All joint honours options will prioritise core subject modules in the first year, allowing students to obtain a thorough grounding in both subjects. Switching focus between more than one subject becomes more natural as the degree progresses. In many cases, you will find that understanding of one subject enhances your understanding of another. In my case, the aspects of visual analysis involved in my Film Studies modules have supported my appreciation and approach towards visual media in my English modules.
Would a joint honours degree enhance my employability?
While some sources suggest that joint honours are a dilution of individual subjects and opportunities, a joint honours degree can actually broaden your career prospects. Beyond having exposure to a larger peer group from multiple disciplines, you are also exposed to a wider range of careers events and opportunities. Full-time joint honours degrees achieved a 95.6% employment rate in a 2017 HESA survey; need I say more!?
I hope that’s cleared up some of the questions people have about studying a joint honours degree. It’s a great choice if you can’t bear the thought of choosing just one subject or just fancy a more varied degree.
Click here for more information about joint degrees at King’s College London.
If you enjoyed this, you might like Aaran’s post about what career options there are for a Philosophy and Spanish BA.