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What’s it like studying Combined Honours?

When I came to Durham on an Open Day studying Combined Honours was described as a pick your destiny adventure book. And despite being a very good slogan, it’s very true!

What I chose to study

Within Combined Honours I choose to study History and Politics. I could write several blogs on why I’m studying them, but put very quickly, they’re both areas of study that I find fascinating and have so much variety. When applying to university then, I looked for courses that would allow me to study both, which ended up with my UCAS application having me applying to four separate course titles!

Durham’s Combined Honours course stood out to me then, as it allowed me to have flexibility in the subjects, modules, and time period that I would study. As a historian, I find modern history the most interesting to study, due to its proximity to our lives, and the rich variety of ways we can study it. Combined Honours was great then as it took away many of the course requirements that I’d have to face in other degree programmes, and most importantly allowed me to focus on studying the things that I wanted to do and would find interesting to study.

It also allows you to focus on particular areas, often from a multidisciplinary approach. For example, if you have an interest in the Middle East, it would allow you to study a combination of international relations, history, and language modules in that area. In my case this year, I picked modules that looked at the Cold War from a Soviet and American perspective, and ones that allowed me to look at politics from a quantitative perspective. If you have a more niche set of interests or want to study things that are of no relation to each other, the course also gives you scope to do that.

The benefits

I feel studying Combined Honours has made me a better-rounded academic. For example, I feel that now having studied the US political system in a couple of stand-alone politics modules, my historical work is better informed and better written generally. Similarly, when writing politics essays, having developed my historical writing technique, I am better able to conduct contextual research and therefore create better-informed research projects.

I am (hopefully) more employable as a result of independently studying multiple disciplines and overcoming the challenges that each of them poses. It has taught me better time management as well, with my degree programme being less structured as a result which can lead to periods with a number of deadlines!

Overall, though, it has allowed me to study what I want, and avoid what I don’t, which in a degree is all that I can really ask for!

Combined Honours in Social Sciences may not be as established a degree title as some others, but look beyond the headline…. There’s a lot to be offered!

Discover more

About Combined Honours here.

Download our latest prospectus and college guide here.

Follow our students on Instagram and YouTube.

Matthew Midlane

Hi! I’m Matthew, a second year Combined Honours in Social Sciences (History and Politics) Undergraduate at St Aidan’s College. I’ve come to Durham having been born and bred in East London!
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