The dummies' guide to joint honours courses


Faculty: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
School: School of Creative Industries
Course: BA (Hons) Drama and English Literature
Category: Music and performing arts

3 December 2019

Choosing a course can be difficult, especially if you want to study two subjects. The good thing is, practically all universities offer joint honours courses which can be a complete game-changer.

The first thing to say is: don’t worry, you are not studying for two degrees. A joint honours, in the simplest of terms, is a course that allows you to study two different subjects that together form your degree.

Each university varies in its approach to joint courses; modules, assessment criteria and how ‘combined’ the subjects are will all vary.

How to choose with so many choices?

Maybe you didn’t expect so many choices, or maybe a course peaked your interest but you aren’t sure any more. Maybe you know what subject you want to do but aren’t sure what to pair it with. There are so many factors to consider when choosing a joint honours that you can feel overwhelmed and unsure.

Choosing the ‘right course’ is all down to you, so remember to do what is best for you! Granted, that might make things a bit scary – but simply thinking about what you want can help to make your mind up.

Here are a few things you may want to think about.

  • What are you passionate about? Some people might think it is silly, but this is probably the biggest deciding factor when choosing a course! No matter what you choose to study, the biggest thing is that you enjoy it because you will be spending A LOT of time focusing on those subjects and it won’t always be easy.
  • What do you see yourself doing in the future? Whether it’s a hunch or something you know for certain, it would be a huge benefit to think about what combination will best enable that path. If you have no idea what career path you want to follow, then consider the possible options that your chosen course might allow.
  • Research is key. Whether you’ve chosen your university and are looking at a few different course options, or you are trying to choose which uni to apply to, remember to do as much research as you can. Most universities will have a module breakdown on their website which can help you determine if the course will cover things you're interested in. Different universities offer different modules, so my joint honours in Drama and English Literature at ARU will look very different to the same course at, say, University of Manchester.

What’s it like to study a joint honours?

Every course has its pros and cons, and joint honours are no different.


  • You get to study two subjects! That goes without saying. But often times you will have an added layer of insight into your courses especially if they overlap a lot. You can also follow and explore your passion for different areas or types of study without feeling like you have to ‘give one up’.
  • The future is full of opportunities. Studying a joint honours can really keep your career options open, potentially including elements from both subjects you choose to study.
  • Things are always interesting. You will always have a variety of modules on your timetable, so you don’t have to worry about getting bored.
  • You pick up a wide range of transferable skills. Doing two subjects usually requires different skills and this helps to make you a well-rounded individual. Your skills can be applied on your actual course (if your subjects overlap well) or further into your future.


  • It can be harder to make friends. Joint honours are a mix of modules between your two choices, which means that you are constantly mixed with new people with every module.
  • You may not get to do the modules that you want. In both second and third years you can choose your modules, however, as a joint honours student your options may be more limited than those on a single honours course.
  • Be prepared, there’s a lot of work. Depending on the subjects you choose, assessment periods and general workloads can be difficult to manage. Make sure you know how and when you are being assessed for each of your modules to avoid stress!
  • You may not find any ‘course mates’. Joint honours courses usually are a lot smaller, so finding someone who is doing the exact same course may be tricky. If you do, chances are there will be a really small number of you.

Personally, I'd recommend a joint honours as I get to study both of my favourite subjects, and benefit from a diverse experience, in terms of academics and the people I meet.

Our joint honours degrees include Zoe's course, Drama and English Literature, along with a range of arts, creative, and business degrees. Search by subject area on our undergraduate page.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.