Joint Honours student Tom Berrington explains why he chose to study two different subjects for his degree – and why he believes he made the right choice.
Your strengths, your interests, your career
Joint Honours is very interesting but, at times, can be a confusing choice when it comes to choosing two subjects. It is a degree which allows you to study elements from two different subjects as a single qualification. For instance:
- Psychology and Criminology
- Mathematics and Education Studies
- (my own) Marketing and Media and Communication
And these are just a few of the possibilities. Joint honours is a great option if you feel you have strengths or interests in two different subjects that you would want to study further for your career progression.
Why I chose Joint Honours
I chose Joint Honours because I knew I wanted to do something creative and interesting in the Media industry, while also gaining marketing related transferable skills. Studying a Joint Honours degree has allowed me to gain knowledge in two separate subjects without one undermining from the other. Generally, I found overlapping and linked teachings in both subjects which allowed me to develop my own understanding of how Marketing and Media work together.
At the end of the first year, you also have to decide whether you would like to stay on a Joint Honours (Subject A and Subject B) course or change to a major/minor degree (Subject A with Subject B) in which one subject becomes the dominant element of your degree.
There are many opinions about Joint Honours degrees. Some people think it isn’t worth it as it doesn’t allow you to have a full range of knowledge about either subject. Others believe the very different methods of studying such as essay writing, reports, analysis, and exams make it harder for students to achieve high grades in both subjects, and so become disadvantaged.
Personally, I believe it depends on the subject. In my own degree, I have found that Marketing requires a practical, mathematical and analytical way of writing when it comes to essays and reports, while Media has a more theoretical and creative writing style. However, they do overlap but the difficulty and complexity of either subject never feels reduced.
Studying two courses will mean you will see students and lecturers from both subjects. This opens you up to more optional seminars, societies and trips. Specific subject-orientated societies can be invaluable in finding additional support. And communicating any issues to your Personal Academic Tutor can help in finding you a place that suits you best. They are only an email away.
Everyone goes through those awkward initial greetings and hellos but, the sooner you make first impressions, the better it will be when finding a group for those pesky graded presentations.
There is no chance to get bored of the subjects because you are always learning new and interesting things. I have also found out that this comes as an advantage when attending interviews for internships. Employers are always interested in how I’m studying two subjects within one degree. And, best of all, it shows confidence in yourself to retain and develop your own ideas in two differing subjects, it shows diversity in your ability and it shows motivation and forethought.
I have learned how to organise and manage various essays and teamwork projects simultaneously and independently. Thankfully, I never felt like I was too far away from my tutors to ask for help. But they would never simply lead me to the answers. There was always enough discussion for me to feel like I was personally coming to my own summaries and conclusions.
One of the most useful angles when approaching a Joint Honours degree is the practicality of what you want to do. If you want to train to become an actor, that’s great. However, it is a very competitive industry and so choosing a complementary subject which may improve your employability skills, such as English or Media, may give you that edge if finding a job in your chosen field is becoming increasingly difficult.
At times, it can be difficult to manage and organise my studies. But, with the constant yet precise support and lecturing, along with the wide number of fieldtrips and offerings my tutors have given me, this has allowed me to feel both confident in myself and my abilities.
Time clashes can be sorted in one meet-up, overworking can be solved through asking for assistance to ease the burden on those particularly tricky pieces of coursework.
It’s always a big and scary decision to choose to go to university and these other options may make it feel even scarier. But the value you can get if you choose your subject(s) to study for the next three or four years will affect you for the rest of your life. And it’s important you know all the options to be able to make the best decision.