LIFE AS A DUALIST:
There are many conflicting stances on the merits and drawbacks of a dual honours degree, as a History and Politics student myself, here is my stance:
Inevitably, the History and Politics departments look for different qualities in the assessments they set. So, when it comes to writing essays I often have to stop and consider what the essay is really asking of me. There is a consensus that this is a negative thing; after all, it means I get less of a chance to repeatedly conduct work in a set departmental style. Perhaps the chances of improving my work are therefore reduced? From my experience, however, I find that the fact I am conscious that I need to adapt my work to its specific audience, ensures that I put more thought into the content I use. Generally I have found that juggling the expectations of two departments has not had an adverse impact on my grades either!
Joint honours students are well versed in two ways of thinking, and two methods of ‘doing’. When it comes to later life, and in particular job hunting, this is a skill that stands us in good stead. Completing a dual honours degree to a high standard shows an ability to work flexibly and creatively. Not to mention the fact that it shows we are passionate people with a genuine interest in multiple subject areas. When sat in a history seminar for example, I often notice the political undertones which have informed the work I’m studying. I find interrelationships such as this truly interesting, and this is what ultimately proves that I am on the right course for me!
Unfortunately, some criticisms of dual honours degrees are, in my opinion, founded. Belonging to two departments can lead some to feel lost. In my degree, I receive a mere 6 hours contact a week; I currently get 2 hours contact per module, therefore, at most I spend 4 hours per week in one of my respective departments. Worse still is the fact that it is only by chance, when talking to people, that I find people on my specific course! Nonetheless, I think there is still a lot to be said for dual honours degrees. At Sheffield, my home school is History, and I have a personal tutor to consult if need be in this department. There is definitely support out there, it’s just a matter of asking! Being in classes with different people every term is not an experience exclusive to dual honours students either. The flexibility of BA degrees means that students have a lot of choice in what they can study – there is scope for students on single honours courses to explore what interests them too. On a positive note, dual honours get the chance to meet people with similar interests to themselves in two departments.
Lastly, I think it’s important to remember that our University experiences are shaped by so much more than the subject/s we choose to study!