July 19, 2023, by UoN School of English

Navigating University as a dual honours student

A landscape image of Trent Building at University park

Coming to university in September, I was originally intending on taking liberal arts with a primary focus on English and history, however, I quickly realised that these two subjects as a pair were personally a better fit for me to study. History and English are luckily quite complimentary subjects meaning it made it easier to juggle between the two as they have complimentary skill sets. The start of university is a nerve-wracking time for most newcomers, as meeting new friends, settling into a new place and feeling homesick are all pressuring worries. Therefore, being able to do a degree that consistently interests you takes all this extra pressure off.

Initially, I struggled with the differences between English and my other subject, as the styles of workshops and seminars differed meaning I felt slightly lost in what I was learning. However, this is a common feeling amongst first-year students in general, as university is a fresh way of teaching for most, and these stresses should subside after a few weeks of settling in. The history modules tied in well with the first-year English modules, with Beginnings of English, a module that focuses on Old and Middle English fitting well with my work on medieval history. The transferable skills are seen in all dual honour degrees, meaning although two subjects can seem overwhelming, the research and work done can feed into one another. Assessment styles across English vary but adding history to the mix during deadline season made writing up assignments particularly stressful. However, not only were all my seminar tutors very supportive, but again the skills I learnt in history helped to improve my English essays. Luckily, both are essay subjects meaning tips on essay writing could be transferred across the two fields. Doing more than one subject also means you will meet a wider variety of people, making friends on two different courses.

Dual honours allow for more freedom, not having to limit yourself to one subject, which was particularly helpful for someone like me who is notoriously indecisive. This meant I could explore both of my subjects’ interests equally. As the end of my first-year approaches, I definitely believe I not only made the right choice with my subjects but also by the end of the first semester I found both subjects much less complicated to manage, meaning instead of stressing out I could enjoy what I was learning.

– Arwen Jenkins

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