Studying a Joint-Honours Degree

Studying a joint-honours degree: BA Sociology and Management

“So what are you studying?” – “Sociology and Management.” – “I’m sorry?” – “Sociology and Management, so it’s half business and half sociology…” – “Ah okay… and how does they link with each other?”…I’m studying a joint honours degree and have this conversation at least a dozen times a term!

Although joint honours are gaining increased popularity, many people still seem to think you have to dedicate yourself to only one subject. So did I.

Unaware of joint honours degrees, I went for Sociology when the application deadline was approaching, which seemed like a fair compromise of my interests. It wasn’t until I came to Essex that I learned about the existence of a joint honours degree and immediately felt attracted by that option. I always played with idea of studying business, but had been afraid by the proportion of maths it is said to contain, but the course Sociology and Management seemed to be less ‘mathsy’, so I applied for a course change which was been approved within a week. Now I’m in my third year and really happy with that decision!

Combine two subjects!

If you feel like I did – undecided if this one subject on its own is the right choice or you’re simply passionate about two subjects: a joint honour might be the perfect option for you! No need to be torn between two subjects anymore 🙂


Oh, this feeling during a class discussion when you think “oh yeah, I already know this!” is just invaluable! Several times I have been able to apply my knowledge from the one subject to the other. For exmaple, when talking about organisational behaviour, Weber’s theory about bureaucracy came in handy, and in a social theory essay about cultural capital, I could refer to knowledge I gained from my marketing module. These interdisciplinary links might provide you with some additional marks in your assignments and overall help you to get a better understanding about the different aspects of one topic.

Greater Variety of Skills

Since different disciplines have different approaches of studying, you will be able to gain a diverse set of skills. The Sociology department puts a great emphasis on research, which taught me how to design surveys for social research, how to analyse quantitative data statistically and about the benefits and pitfalls of conducting an interview. The Essex Business School on the other hand, equipped me with the ability to apply my knowledge to a practical context by analysing case studies, or developing a revised marketing strategy for an existing corporation. Some of you might be worried about whether a joint-honour degree will provide you with sufficient depth in both subjects, my answer is that this is dependent on your specific subject combination and your career aims. Neither sociology, nor management are tailored towards a specific career, so they simply open up more options for you 🙂

Getting to know two departments

This point obviously depends on your particular subject combination, as some joint degrees embrace subjects within the same department. I belong to both the Essex Business School and the Sociology department, which means that I got to know more people. However, sometimes you might feel a bit fragmented, since you spend less time with the people from one department compared to single-honour students. Also the concept of Business school seminar differs from the Sociology’s class concept; the former embrace larger number of students, whereas latter are more intimate and involve more student discussion.


“You all are probably already familiar with portfolio management from your other modules, so I don’t need to elaborate the basic concept anymore when speaking about brand portfolio…” – “Erm no actually, I’m not…”. Yeah, sometimes your lecturers just assume that everybody sitting in the module is doing the same course; doing a joint honour degree does mean that you can get less explanations to some concepts compared to single-honour students. Clustered deadlines can be another tricky aspect to deal with, since departments don’t always consult each other about their deadlines to consider joint-honours students. On the other hand, this definitely trains your time-management skills, which is always good to add to your cv 😉


Joint-honours can be great, but it depends on your personality, your course expectations and your career aims. You have to be flexible and be prepared that there are many core modules for your degree, so you might get to choose less optional modules. Yet studying a joint-honour degree allows you to demonstrate your determinism and individualism; they provide you with the opportunity to get an insight into two subjects and equip you with a wide range of skills.


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