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Honours degrees

What does the term “Honours” mean?

The term “honours degree” has different meanings for different countries and for different degrees. Generally “honours degree” is connected with undergraduate Bachelor degrees; it is rarely used for Masters degrees. The term originally comes from an early 20th century degree classification system to distinguish undergraduate students based on their academic achievements. Nowadays, honours are instead awarded to students who show exceptional depth of knowledge and originality.

Honours degrees in Great Britain and Scotland

In the British system, almost all undergraduates apply to an honours degree. An “ordinary” degree may also be offered, however, it involves a much broader understanding of a topic compared with an in-depth honours degree. Hence, an honours degree typically refers to a higher academic standard than a pass degree, which is why at some universities an additional fourth year during the Bachelor is required. When a degree with honours is being awarded, the suffix “(Hons)” may be attached to the degree title, for example BA (Hons) and BSc (Hons).

In Scotland however, the MA (hons) refers to a four-year integrated undergraduate degree in the arts. During the first two years, ordinary Bachelor level modules will be completed, while the last two years, or honour years, consist of more advanced subjects and finish with a dissertation.

Honours degrees in Australia

In Australia the term “honours degree” may also refer to a two-year consecutive research degree, which is a continuation of a bachelor’s degree in the same field. It is supposed to extend understanding and research skills in order to directly commence a PhD programme. Entry to an honours degree is therefore competitive and requires a Bachelor’s with distinction.

Honours degrees in the USA

In the US, a degree with honours simply signifies academic excellence, indicating a high overall grade point average.

Finding postgraduate Honours degrees

As described above, there are only very few Masters programmes which offer the honours supplement. If it is available, it can have many different meanings and may be connected with different criteria. In some cases you will find the term “Honours” within the study programme description, in other cases you will have to ask the student advisory service about the award of honours degrees. The search for a postgraduate honours degree is therefore difficult. Instead of devoting time to looking for an honours degree, you should focus on other aspects of your Masters programme.

Find your Honours degree in some of the best UK universities:

comprehensive profile   University of Birmingham
comprehensive profile   University of Warwick - WMG
comprehensive profile   Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University
comprehensive profile   Newcastle University Business School
comprehensive profile   London School of Economics and Political Science - Department of Management
comprehensive profile   London Metropolitan University
  The University of Sunderland
  Durham University
  University of Hull
  Ravensbourne
  University of Leeds
  Hult International Business School
  University of Exeter
  INSIGNIS Business School - Groupe INSEEC
  Abertay University
  York St John University
  Brunel University London
  Royal College of Art
  The University of Law
  ESCP Europe
  Sheffield Hallam University
  University of Sheffield
  Liverpool John Moores University
  University of Bristol
  University of Brighton
  University of Cumbria
  Bath Spa University
  University of Chester
  Lancaster University
  Goldsmiths, University of London
  Nottingham Law School
  Staffordshire University
  Oxford Brookes University
  Glasgow Caledonian University
  The University of Nottingham
  University of Strathclyde
  University of Roehampton
  University of Stirling
  University of Sussex
  London Business School
  University of West London
  Edge Hill University
  University College London
  Buckinghamshire New University
  University of Gloucestershire
  Imperial College London
  Royal Agricultural University
  Birmingham City University
  University of Portsmouth
  London South Bank University
  ...
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