Academic Quality and Partnerships

Joint Honours Students

The frequently asked questions below have been compiled to support joint honours students at the University of Sussex in understanding their workload and how they will be assessed.


1. Do joint honours students have the same amount of work as single honours students?

Yes. Single and joint honours students have broadly equivalent amounts of academic work and study hours.

All undergraduate students are required to secure the same number of credits overall to achieve their degree. In the case of joint honours students these credits are split equally between the two subjects being studied rather than the focus being on a single subject.

All undergraduate degree students must complete 120 credits each year (60 credits per term). These credits are achieved by studying modules which are blocks of 15 or 30 credits. A module of 30 credits is double the workload of a 15 credit module.

As a general rule, a single credit amounts to 10 hours of learning effort so in a 30 credit module you would be expected to undertake 300 hours of learning in total over the term. Over a 12 week term this amounts to an average of 25 hours per week and would include time spent attending lectures and seminars as well as independent study.

2. Will I have more lectures than a single honours student?

No. As all full-time undergraduate students study modules total 120 credits each academic year then you will have a comparable number of teaching sessions to single honours students studying the subjects which make up your degree.

However, the number of scheduled lectures and seminars will vary between subject areas according to the requirements of the subject. Your course handbook and timetable will describe the arrangements for your course in detail.

3. Are essays due in the same week?

When scheduling assessments for single and joint honours students, the University aims to spread deadlines so that the clashes are avoided and students receive feedback in good time to prepare for the next assignment. However, assessments for different modules may sometimes fall due in the same week for both single honours and joint honours students. You will be made aware at the start of each module when any assignments are due to enable you to plan and manage your time. The Study Success at Sussex (S3) website has useful tips on getting organised and managing your time.

4. How can I manage my time?

The Study Success at Sussex (S3) website has useful tips on getting organised and managing your time.

Exams and dissertations

1. Do I have to do two dissertations?

Most courses require students to do a dissertation or research project in the final stage. Students on both single and joint honours degrees may do two dissertations either as a core requirement of the course or through selecting option modules which are assessed by submission of a dissertation. For details of what is required for your course you should refer to your course handbook.

2. Can I choose the subject that I write my dissertation for?

Some courses will enable you to choose the subject in which you write your dissertation. This will be dependent on the core and optional module requirements of your course and could mean that you are able to write a dissertation in each subject that you are studying. For details of what is required for your course you should refer to your course handbook.

A dissertation would usually be confined to a single subject area but in discussion with your allocated supervisor you will able to select a topic within that subject that is of interest to you.

3. Will exams be on the same day?

The University aims to ensure that students have no more than one examination per day. As far as possible the timing of examinations is restricted to mornings and afternoons on weekdays. However, the constraints of the examination periods and combinations of modules dictated by the curriculum require some examinations to be held outside those times (on Saturdays and Bank Holidays and in the early evening).

4. Will assessment methods be different for each subject?

All students, whether joint honours or single hours will be assessed using a variety of different methods appropriate to the subject. Examples include essays, exams, presentations, lab reports and musical compositions. It is important to offer a range of assessment methods to enable students to practise and demonstrate a wide range of knowledge, understanding and skills. Your tutors will provide you with subject specific advice and guidance on assessment and you can also visit the Study Success at Sussex (S3) website which has some guidance about some of the most common types of assessments.

5. Are end of year grades split 50/50 or will I get two different results?

At the end of the academic year the Progression and Award Board (PAB) will confirm your marks for the year. The PAB also confirms your eligibility to progress to the next stage of your degree, or if you are at the final stage, whether you have met the requirements for an award and the classification of this.

Following the meeting of the PAB you will receive an individual mark for each of the modules you have completed and a single overall mark for the year known as the ‘stage mean’. Please see Examination and Assessment Regulations Handbook 2014/15 [PDF 1.34MB] for more details.

6. When will I be assessed?

There are three assessment periods for undergraduate students:

  • Mid-year – between the autumn and spring terms before teaching begins
  • End-of-year – normally in the summer term when students have completed all of their modules
  • Summer vacation – this is for students who are re-taking any modules which they have failed during the year and is usually towards the end of August

Exams for modules for which teaching is delivered in the autumn term usually take place in the mid-year assessment period, and exams for spring term modules in the end-of-year assessment period. If you are studying a module which takes place across both the autumn and spring terms exams may take place in either assessment period.

7. When will I get my exam timetable?

The dates for each of the assessment periods are available at the beginning of the academic year. Exam timetables will be communicated before the end of each term.

8. What if my exams clash?

When the draft exam timetable is released you should check this and inform the Student Progress and Assessment Office of any clashes.

If you wish to observe/attend religious festivals and holy days, or have a scheduled competitive sporting event, work placement or internship commitment in the designated assessment period that may clash with a scheduled exam you can make a formal request to the Director of Student Experience in your lead school of study, accompanied by a letter from the religious/sporting/placement event leader confirming your intention to observe/attend the event and the dates/duration of the event. The Student Progress and Assessment Office can take this into account when they are preparing the exam timetable. If it is not possible to accommodate this you will be offered an opportunity to be assessed in the summer resit period.

9. Is it easier for single honours students to get a good degree result?

No. Single and joint honours students have an equal opportunity to gain a good degree. The University has processes in place to ensure that marking is carried out in a fair and reliable way. Moderation checks that marking has been conducted appropriately and is done both internally by faculty independent of the marking process and externally by the external examiner(s) appointed to the module. External examiners are independent academic members of staff from other UK Universities and enable the University to be confident that its assessment processes are comparable to other institutions in the UK.

 Modules/Electives/Study Abroad Year

1. Will I be able to choose elective modules?

Selecting a joint honours degree enables you to choose to study two subjects of interest to you. The full 120 credits of study per year are needed to enable the core curriculum requirements for your chosen subjects to be delivered in sufficient depth. Therefore the elective modules that single honours students can take are not available to joint honours students. However, your joint honours programme may enable you to choose from a range of option modules within each of your chosen subjects.

2. Will I miss out on key information or modules as my time is split between two subjects?

Any information which has been determined as crucial to you achieving the award will be covered in core modules which you must take as part of your course. You will only be assessed on the modules you are studying so you will not be expected to sit an exam on an area not covered in your teaching sessions.

3. Will I share modules with single honours students?

Modules are often offered to more than one course of study which means that you may share teaching with both single honours and joint honours students from a number of different courses.

4. Can I do a Study Abroad Year as part of my joint honours course?

Some courses (American Studies and Languages) have an integrated Study Abroad Year embedded into a 4 stage course structure. A Study Abroad Year integrated into the course structure requires that the University guarantees all students on the course access to a Study Abroad Year.

All students on a 3 stage undergraduate course can apply to undertake a voluntary Study Abroad Year, with the exception of those whose course already includes an Integrated Study Abroad Year.

5. Will I continue both subjects as part of my Study Abroad Year or Term?

When considering a Study Abroad Year, you will be able to choose which subjects you study. This may be focussing on one of your chosen subjects, a combination of both or a different but related subject. Academic staff in your School will be able to advise you on selecting of modules. For more information about a Study Abroad Year or Term please contact the Sussex Abroad office

 Academic support for joint honours students

1. Can I speak to lecturers and tutors from both subjects?

As a joint honours student you will be based in the School which delivers the first named subject of your degree. However, you will encounter and have access to academic staff for both of your chosen subjects. All staff have office hours when they are available to meet with students and a number of them note their office hours on their web profiles or office doors. If office hours are not displayed, or you are unable to meet during those times due to other commitments please contact them by phone or email to arrange a suitable time to meet.

2. Will I have two academic advisers?

No. You will have one academic adviser based in your home School. However, your academic adviser will be familiar with your degree course and will be able to direct you to appropriate alternative sources of academic advice if required.

You will be offered an opportunity to meet your academic adviser at the beginning of the first term. Following the initial meeting you would normally meet with your academic adviser at least once per term.

3. How will I meet other students on my course?

You will meet other students on your course through induction events and ongoing attendance at lectures and seminars.

Each course at the University has a course convenor who is responsible for academic oversight of the course. For joint honours degrees there are two convenors, one for each of the subjects. The joint convenors will schedule termly meetings for all students on the degree, when you will have the opportunity to meet other students studying on your course.


1. When will I get my lecture timetable?

You will be able to access your timetable via Sussex Direct before the start of each term.

2. What should I do if lectures clash?

Work is undertaken by the University to limit the number of lecture clashes, especially around core modules. You should contact your course coordinator if you find there are scheduling clashes on your timetable.

3. I have back to back lectures. What happens if I am late every week?

Teaching sessions should finish at 10 minutes to the hour. The primary purpose of this is to allow rooms to be vacated and prepared for the next teaching session so that they can start on time. This should provide time for you to get to another teaching session elsewhere on campus.


1. Do joint honours students get two degrees?

No you will get a single degree but the title of the award will reflect the two subjects that you have studied e.g. BA (Hons) English and History.

2. Will I be taught both subjects at the same time or a term at a time?

You will study modules in both subjects each term.

3. What is the difference between 'and' and 'with' degrees?

Degrees with ‘and’ in the title e.g. BA (Hons) English and History indicate that the two subjects have been studied in equal weight. If the degree has a ‘with’ in the title more emphasis is placed on the first named subject which will account for 75% of the credits undertaken. For example, if you were studying BSc (Hons) Mathematics with Physics, 75% of the credits you study would be in the subject area of mathematics and 25% in Physics.

4. Will my degree be focused on one subject more than the other?

This is dependent on the type of degree you undertake. If you are studying on a joint major degree such as BA (Hons) English and History then equal weighting is given to each of the subjects. For students on a single major with minor pathway courses more attention will be given to the major subject. For example, if you were studying BSc (Hons) Mathematics with Physics, 75% of the credits you study would be in the subject area of mathematics and 25% in Physics. The time that you devote to each subject should mirror this split.

5. As I am studying two subjects will I need to get twice as many books?

You will be provided with reading lists for each of your modules at the start of term. You can access reading lists via Study Direct or through the Library homepage. Accessing the reading list online will also enable to see how many copies of a particular book are available in the Library.

Reading lists may be very long and appear overwhelming but they will be split into sections that indicate essential or core reading, and further recommended reading. You are advised to purchase those texts which are essential but resources listed as further reading are there to guide your independent study so you can chose what you read from this part of the list.

6. Is a joint honours degree recognised as the same qualification as a single honours degree?

Yes the qualification will be the same. Joint honours students will study for the same number of credits as single honours students but these credits will be shared amongst more than one subject. For example, a student studying joint honours Anthropology and Cultural Studies and a student studying single honours Anthropology would both be awarded a BA (Hons) qualification provided they passed all of their modules.

7. What are the advantages of a joint honours degree?

If you cannot decide on a single subject, choosing a joint degree allows you to pursue studies in two different areas that interest you studying core topics within each of the subject areas. Joint degrees are viewed positively by employers as you could develop a broader range of skills from two different subjects.

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