What is it like to study joint honours?
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Joint Honours: An honest review

Tamzin Meyer November 29, 2021

Choosing a university course that you are going to study for the next three years or more will be one of the most important decisions you have made so far. If you are indecisive, like me, you may not be 100% confident that you have made the right choice. By choosing a specific subject you may be shutting the doors on certain careers. I was very cautious of this and changed my mind many times before realising that I did not have to pick one single subject. Instead I could combine a couple of my passions together through the form of a Joint Honours Degree.

As a second-year English Literature and History student, I have no regrets! Joint Honours has been a very rewarding and exciting experience. While it does bring some challenges, the pros make the cons seem insignificant in comparison.



Theoretically, the workload for Joint Honours students should not be anymore than that of Single Honours students as you are studying half of the modules from each subject. This is true in terms of the amount of content you will have to study. However, due to the ways in which the programme is structured, you may find yourself feeling like you have a very heavy workload. Depending on your chosen course, the two departments may not cooperate with each other. That means you may be subject to timetable clashes or assignment deadlines that all come at the same time. I have found this to be one of the biggest downsides to studying for a Joint Honours degree as it often seems like all of my deadlines come at once, with them all coming in the same week; this is something that a single honours student usually does not have to worry about as their department will space out deadlines to make them manageable.

Different Styles of Teaching

Whilst having different styles of teaching in seminars and lectures can be refreshing, the requirements for essays and assignments can differ meaning that it is often hard to keep on top of what is required from you. For example, one course may require you to follow the MHRA style guide whilst the other may expect you to follow the Chicago style guide. I find this to sometimes be quite annoying but it is something you will just learn to accept and get used to as time goes on!

Missing Out on Modules

Obviously, as a Joint Honours student you do not get to study all of the modules that your Single Honours peers will. You can look at this either way – as being a good thing that you don’t have to study modules that you really can’t stand (I was lucky enough to miss out on the Shakespeare module) or as a bad thing that you are missing out on a module that you really wanted to do. Usually you might only be able to choose one or two optional modules whereas your peers on Single Honours courses can choose more. 


There can be both pros and cons to Joint Honours courses when it comes to friendships. Sometimes you may feel a little bit of an outsider, just floating your way through different friendship groups without being able to form close bonds with anybody. You might not feel like you fully fit into groups on either side of your course which can be rather isolating at times. However, a great way to combat this is by joining societies as you will be able to find your people much more comfortably.



One of the best things about Joint Honours has to be flexibility. You don’t feel tied to a particular course which can be very beneficial if you find yourself not enjoying one course as much as the other. You can usually alter your weighting in second and third year going from a 60:60 split to perhaps an 80:40 split meaning that you get to study more of the subject you like more or are doing better in. If you just did a Single Honours course you would be stuck doing all of the modules whether you liked them or not.

More Opportunities

It goes without saying that one of the most rewarding aspects of studying Joint Honours is the access it gives you to new opportunities. By studying English and History, I was reassured that I did not necessarily have to be set on a specific career. Many employers in different sectors will value you as Joint Honours students for being able to become experts in a number of fields whilst also demonstrating your broad skillset. On a personal level, studying two subjects allows you to continue with your passions as it can be really hard to cut certain subjects off that you have such an interest in, when picking a course to study.


You may find that your subject modules cross over and link together extremely well which can be very interesting. Last year I studied the topic of colonialism in both English and History. I really liked going into seminars seeing the topic from different angles. While consistently studying the same topics may defeat the point of studying two subjects, spotting links between subjects can be exciting and extremely rewarding.


I know I’ve already addressed friendships as a con. However, depending on how well you adapt to different people, you may find that the number of friendships you make doubles in size. This is because you are in the lucky position to be surrounded by two different groups of people with similar interests to you. If you are a social animal, this will definitely keep you busy! Think of all the coffee shop dates you can have with all your newfound friends.

Joint Honours is an exciting form of study that can completely transform your University experience for the better, both academically and socially. I wouldn’t change a thing.

See also: My biggest first-year regret

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I am an English and History student at The University of Birmingham with a strong passion for writing about entertainment and lifestyle.