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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   Hult International Business School
comprehensive profile   Newcastle University Business School
comprehensive profile   Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
comprehensive profile   Northumbria University
  Middlesex University London
  Robert Gordon University
  University College London
  University of Huddersfield
  London School of Economics and Political Science
  New College of the Humanities
  University of Brighton
  De Montfort University
  London Metropolitan University
  Royal Agricultural University
  University of Hull
  Arden University
  SOAS, University of London
  University of Wales Trinity Saint David
  University of the West of England
  Ashridge Business School
  Royal Holloway, University of London
  University of Salford
  The University of Sunderland
  European College of Business and Management
  Henley Business School
  University of Edinburgh
  University of Exeter
  The Open University
  Imperial College London
  International Business School Alliance (IBSA)
  York St John University
  University of Southampton
  EDHEC Business School
  Liverpool Hope University
  Cass Business School
  Plymouth University
  Glasgow Caledonian University
  University of Hertfordshire
  Keele University
  University of Birmingham
  University of Essex
  University of Bedfordshire
  University of Winchester
  London South Bank University
  INSIGNIS Business School - Groupe INSEEC
  King's College London
  University of St Andrews
  Leeds Beckett University
  University College Birmingham
  University of East Anglia
  ...
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