A joint or combined honours degree allows you to combine two subjects into one degree. Deciding on the right subjects to study is predominantly based on your individual preferences, passions and career aspirations, but don’t forget to research into the practicality of your subjects to ensure they are compatible with each other and for your future career.
Here is my personal story, sharing some things you may not know about being a Joint Honours student.
Why I chose Joint Honours
When I was applying for university I wanted to further pursue English as I had taken it as an A-level, but I also wanted to explore Media Studies as a brand-new area of study. Considering I had only completed essay-based subjects previously, I was now looking for a course that combined practical methods to explore theoretical material within the sector of communications.
The challenges of studying two subjects
When I first started my course, one of the main challenges I faced was that I was yet to develop acute media literacy in terms of creating a project, such as a short film, or witnessing the process of production.
Yet, through being proactive in sourcing work experience in the media industries, in places such as Sky and on campus in the role of digital media producer, I was able to translate the theoretical and conceptual knowledge of content production accumulated in the classroom into real-world applications within a professional environment.
Another challenge was choosing which subject to major in.
Once you enter the senior stages of your course, you can decide to major in one subject and minor in the other. This means choosing 80 credits worth of modules in your major subject and 40 credits worth of modules in your minor subject. This means that if you are leaning more towards one subject, you can spend more of your time studying it. You also have the option to continue studying both subjects equally.
When the time came to choose the direction of my Joint Honours degree in my second year, I eventually decided to remain Joint Honours until my third year, at which point I could major in English. The reason behind this was that I wanted to make the most of the Media modules on hand before committing myself to write a dissertation.
This proved rewarding as I was able to write an interdisciplinary dissertation in comparative literature, languages and regional studies based on research into theoretical linkages between both of the subjects that I studied.
Time management and organisation
As both of my subjects were equally weighted in the initial stages of the course, the workload was also equally split between lectures and assignments across both subjects, therefore I was expected to read around both subjects and do work from both courses – but without the intensity of pursuing two single subject-related degrees in their own right. You are simply combining half the workload of each subject but as one course.
I found that I was able to organise my time by carefully selecting modules that wouldn’t clash on my timetable, which gave me enough time during the week and in-between lectures to study. This is essential during assessment periods where the deadlines for most assignments can occur during the same week.
More importantly, as a Joint Honours student I had access to tutors, lecturers and resources across the two departments instead of one. These people are a great source of support and can assist you during challenging times.
Throughout the duration of my course, I had access to tutors from both subjects, whose tutorials really helped me to stay on top of work. They answered subject-specific queries but more importantly made sure that I was maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Social benefits of studying two subjects
The Joint Honours society was extremely useful later on in the academic year; it enabled me to meet other students across the wider programme. I became acquainted with other students in other disciplines or areas of study that had combined their interests like myself. The society also runs a Joint Honours Student Forum, which is a great opportunity to network as well as feedback to the University about your experience.
Maximising transferable skills
Joint Honours degrees can be industry and career specific, eg Computer Science and Technology or International Relations and Diplomacy. However in my case, by choosing English combined with Media, I was able to gain both general skills and industry specific acumen ranging from critical thinking, research and analysis to media law, television programming and transmedia storytelling.
Joint Honours degrees are a great way to maximise your knowledge by specialising in more than one academic field of study. In a globalised, interconnected world in which sectors are now overlapping, why not engage in interdisciplinary learning.
In hindsight, choosing to study a Joint Honours degree has certainly set me up for the future by allowing me to further explore a familiar subject whilst learning something new – altogether offering me a well-rounded degree experience.
It’s great to chat to students in person about their experiences, so book your Open Day to find out more: https://www.derby.ac.uk/open-days/