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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   Northumbria University
comprehensive profile   University of Warwick - WMG
comprehensive profile   Newcastle University Business School
comprehensive profile   Hult International Business School
  Middlesex University London
  European College of Business and Management
  University of Aberdeen
  University of Kent
  Queen Mary University of London
  London Metropolitan University
  York St John University
  University of Greenwich
  University of Dundee
  Anglia Ruskin University
  University of Bristol
  Birkbeck, University of London
  University of Bath School of Management
  Royal College of Art
  Edinburgh Napier University
  Royal Holloway, University of London
  University of the West of Scotland
  Royal Veterinary College
  Southampton Solent University
  Goldsmiths, University of London
  University of Bradford
  Sheffield Hallam University
  Staffordshire University
  Henley Business School
  University of Huddersfield
  School of Advanced Study
  University of South Wales
  The University of Sunderland
  London College of Contemporary Arts
  University College Birmingham
  emlyon business school
  University of Sussex
  Kingston University
  University of East Anglia
  Cranfield University
  University of Leeds
  Abertay University
  Birmingham City University
  Liverpool John Moores University
  University of Roehampton
  Teesside University
  Keele University
  University of Suffolk
  Arden University
  Ravensbourne
  ...
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