Reports say that 18% of students in the UK – around 58,200 people – study joint honours, and the number is increasing every year. It’s an understandable trend – personally, I definitely think it is worth doing a joint honours degree if you are so inclined. Yes it will be frustrating and yes, sometimes you will wish that you were a single honours student but the pros outweigh the cons!
The major pro of doing History and Politics is the variety. I get bored very easily, and although you could do different periods of history and so theoretically get a break from it, that is not quite the same as doing a whole different subject. With a joint-honours degree, you can alleviate seemingly-endless chapters of Hobbes’ Leviathan by studying slavery in Brazil.
All this variety also means I have explored a large portion of the library – politics books never actually seem to be in their section – which helps make you more efficient when things are not where they should be. It’s also a good way to actually do some exercise – those stairs do wonders for your leg muscles, which is always a plus! It is possible to introduce further variety, as we have an increased amount of module choices. In first year, we only had three core modules and got to choose two, whereas we would have had no choice if I had done straight History or Politics.
Furthermore, I have made some fantastic friends in both departments who I would have not have made otherwise and I cannot imagine not having met or made friends with them.
Some have even been made due bonding over the frustration of doing a joint honours. I am not sure it quite makes us BNOCs, as the Nottingham Tab claims, but by doing two subjects you give yourself a wider circle of potential friends than a single honour without having to attend a copious amount of societies. I also have something in common with more people at society socials, thus giving me a wider conversation base.
One of the cons commonly mentioned with regard to joint honours is that they mean we do not fully mastered the skills necessary for each subject because we are distracted by the other which may require different skills. While joint-honours degrees allow you to explore a variety of interesting topics, the critics claim we never get to study them in depth, and can be hindered by being tugged from one subject to another.
In my experience, this is certainly not the case. The student who got the highest mark in first year History was a joint honours student and we never seem to do consistently worse than single honours students. The fact that we have successfully mastered multiple skills, as well as an ability to multi-task is surely just another positive.
Besides, at the end of it all when we venture out into the real world, our job prospects are apparently doubled compared to single honours students. I have absolutely no idea if that is true, but my History supervisor has told me many times how much more organised about careers History and Politics students are compared to straight History ones. There certainly seem to be a lot of us writing for the campus newspapers!
The only reasoning I can think for this is that we have more careers talks because we are in two departments and therefore we are thinking about it more. So if for no other reason, do a joint honour just because it may earn you more money – I don’t know many people who would not be enticed by that. I’m a social democrat and that would definitely encourage me – the woes of a shopping addiction!
So, go for it! Do a joint honour or persist with it. Ignore the nay-sayers: a joint-honours degree is the ideal way to make friends, and learn new and interesting things about your subject and university study as a whole.