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Joint honours degree UK: a guide

If you’re considering a joint honours degree, but are unsure what it is exactly, we’ve unpacked all you need to know.

Eleanor Foulds
by Eleanor Foulds
Last Updated:
28 Apr 2023

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What's a joint honours degree?

How long is a joint honours degree?

Which universities offer joint honours degrees?

How do you choose the right subject combination?

What's it like to study a joint honours degree?

Should you do a joint honours degree?

What's a joint honours degree?

A joint honours degree allows you to study more than one subject and combine them into a single qualification. For example, you could study a subject you excelled at in school or college, but combine it with a new subject.

With a joint honours degree you'll study each subject equally. When searching for courses, the title of a joint honours degree will appear with both subjects separated by an ‘and’, such as psychology and criminology.

If a course has ‘with’ in the title, it is a major/minor degree, e.g. criminology with psychology. You'll spend more time studying the major part of the degree (in this case, criminology) than the minor part.

How long is a joint honours degree?

A joint honours degree won’t typically be longer than a regular degree. You’ll find that studying full-time, the degree will be either 3 or 4 years, depending on the university and the course. The length will also depend on whether you choose to do a placement year.

Which universities offer joint honours degrees?

Most universities offer joint honours degrees, ranging from arts and social sciences to STEM subjects.

Every university will approach its joint honours degrees differently. Most will offer dual subject degrees but some even stretch to three, when it then becomes known as a 'combined' degree.

Be sure that you thoroughly research which universities offer the two subjects you are interested in. You can use Whatuni’s Find a Course tool to see what’s available and make a shortlist.

How do you choose the right subject combination?

This depends on your individual preferences and passions. You’re more likely to thrive when studying two subjects you’re interested in, but be practical when choosing your subjects.

Jen Wood, who studied drama with social care at the University of Winchester, told Whatuni, "At the time of deciding on my degree, lots of people were telling me I shouldn't just do drama as a practical subject and I needed to think about employability skills – pretty boring for an 18 year-old!

"I really enjoyed both sides of the course, they were very different courses but I found them both interesting. With social care I got to choose my modules and specialise in children and families. I liked the variety of courses offered and I’m now a drama teacher, and use aspects from them both."

It’s also worth considering subjects that complement each other well.

Grace Midgley took Spanish and linguistics at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol. "They [UWE] didn't offer single honours linguistics courses, so I chose Spanish as it's complementary to the linguistics side and I had always been good at language," she says.

Use our Career Matcher to find your ideal career so you pick the perfect joint honours course.

What’s it like to study a joint honours degree?

Simon Lock studied English, media and cultural studies at UWE. When asked about his experience, he said, "I really enjoyed doing my joint honours degree. The university was well organised and there were no timetable complications, which is something I was expecting.

"I think studying two subjects has given me a wider set of skills than a single English or media course would have. I was able to choose the modules that interested me, and with two subjects it meant my timetable was varied and it kept me interested.

"It also gave me the opportunity to meet a wider range of people. Those studying poetry or media production, for example, are pretty different, so being able to meet and study with them was another big plus."

Should you do a joint honours degree?

This is entirely up to you. Studying a joint honours degree is ideal if you’re tossing up between studying two different subjects. It gives you the chance to take a subject you love, while exploring a subject you don’t know so well. Upon graduation, you may also find that there are more job opportunities available to you based on the breadth of what you’ve studied.

Ida Kemp is the Interdisciplinary Programmes Manager at the University of Sheffield. She maintains that, "In an increasingly complex career environment, a multi-subject degree offers students flexibility and a wide range of skills, academic experience and learning opportunities.

"Graduates of these degrees can demonstrate a range of competencies, adaptability and abilities in a number of areas. This is excellent preparation for employment in a range of areas as well as postgraduate study."

Before deciding to study a joint honours degree, do your research. Find out what universities offer the degree, whether they cover the topics you’re interested in and what the entry requirements are.


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Header image: Photo by Lewis Keegan on Unsplash

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