So, you have gotten to that part of your academic journey where you must choose a degree to study, usually this is a no brainer, you either chose the subject you enjoyed and excelled the most at or you chose the subject that coincides with your preferred career. However, what do you do when you can’t decide between two subjects? Well, a dual degree may be right for you.
As a dual degree graduate, I will help you navigate what a dual degree is, answer some commonly asked questions and hopefully demystify the confusion around duals and inspire you to continue your interests into further study.
What is a dual degree and why did I study one?
People choose dual degrees for a variety of different reasons, whether it is to distinguish themselves on the job market, allow for more freedom in their study, continue to follow their
interests or they genuinely cannot decide which subject they want to study, there is no wrong reason for choosing a dual degree. But before we talk about reasons why to do a dual degree, we need to explain what a dual degree is. A dual degree is a program which allows students to combine two subjects and study them simultaneously. At the University of Sheffield, there is a myriad of dual subjects on offer, all of which have high employability and enjoyment rates.
As an undergraduate student, I undertook a dual honour in English and History, and I loved every minute of it. For me, the reason I decided to undertake a dual honour because as a A-Level student, I couldn’t decide between my love of English Literature and History, therefore, when looking for a university, Sheffield was the ideal place for me because I could study both consecutively. I also chose a dual degree at Sheffield because Sheffield gave me the flexibility and freedom to model my degree to my interests and passions. That was very important to me when choosing my degree, I wanted to feel as though I had control of what I was learning and tailor it to my own taste. So, if you like the sound of tailoring your degree to your interests, a dual degree is the perfect way to make sure you learn exactly what you want.
When looking for a dual degree, it is very important that you carefully research which modules are on offer by each department to ensure that there are multiple modules that sounds interesting to you before you commit to studying there. If you are going to study for 3 years, you might as well make sure you spend those three years enthralled in your studies.
How does a dual degree work?
Now that you understand what a dual degree is and why I decided to study one, you might be thinking- sure that all sounds great, but the workload! Do no worry, a dual degree sounds more daunting than it actually is, in fact, it is no different from a single honour degree. A dual degree does not mean double the work; I know that tends to be the reason why a lot of people are put off dual degrees, but I can assure you that you will not have to work any harder than everyone else to keep up. University degrees are structured similarly for almost every subject, to pass every academic year you need 120 credits. Each module at university has different credits, however 20 is the standard. By the end of your degree, you must have completed 360 credits.
With a dual degree this does not change, instead, you just make up those credits with both subjects. Easy!
The most work comes from studying your respective modules, but they are no different from studying topics from a single honour degree. I can assure you this works out comfortably and you can balance both completely fine.
How to balance a dual degree? My Advice.
Now that you have all the information about dual degrees, you might want some information about how to balance two subjects and as a dual veteran, I am absolutely help you there.
Research: If you are at the early stage of your academic journey, I would advise that you spend as much time researching the subjects you are interested in and making sure they are the right choice for you. I would also advise this because some subjects you want to study together may not be on offer, so if you are thinking of studying engineering and philosophy, this might not be possible. Remember, most dual degrees compliment each
other, so English and History, Politics and Philosophy, etc. Make sure you research which subject combination is available.
Ask questions: Finally, ask questions! Email departments, email student ambassadors, attend open days, subject taster sessions, and completely immerse yourself in the application process. You can never ask too many questions, explore too much or be too prepared. This is three years of your life, make sure you spend it wisely.
Talk to Personal Tutors: Once you’ve decided on your subjects, getting to know your personal tutor is a highly recommended step to make. As a dual student, you will have two personal tutors, one from each respective subject. It is important you get to know these tutors as they will be your guidance and point of support during your degree. If you have any issues with mental health, workload, career paths or anything else, they will point you in the right direction and support you during your time at university.
(They also can provide references so be sure to be extra nice to them!)
Structure: University is stressful and learning two subjects simultaneously can be tricky at first, so it is vital you get yourself into a routine so that you can balance both workloads. For me what I found helpful was splitting my workload hourly to dedicate time to each subject. So, one day I would attend my lectures/ seminars, dedicate 3 hours to completing my history readings for that week and making notes. After that, I would then work on the books/ plays/ movies I had to consume for that week. For books, I would read 5-10 chapters of each book a day (depending on size) so that I could give myself time to read the entire text in time for my seminar. Dual students tend to have more independent study time and less contact hours- this is based on my own schedule; this might be different for you! So, there is more time to complete readings and further readings.
Courage: Don’t be afraid to weigh your semesters differently. It is recommended that
you do 60 credits each semester. However, if you like more modules in one semester compared to the other, then it is absolutely acceptable to do more modules in one semester- as long as you believe you can handle the work!
Have a Plan or Don’t! When choosing your subjects, it is advised that you have a career plan in mind that you can use your acquired knowledge towards. Make sure that the subjects coincide with whatever career path you want to follow and will be beneficial for you.
If you want to continue into further study into Postgraduate level, then it is
recommended you study subjects that allow entry into those postgraduate subjects. Although at times, exceptions are made.
Or! You can absolutely just choose to study these subjects because you enjoy them, and you don’t have a plan just yet. University is a time to uncover yourself and what you enjoy and there is no shame in choosing subjects just because you liked them in A-Levels and want to continue studying subjects you are passionate about.