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Enhancing Undergraduate Degrees Involving the Study of Multiple Subjects

Newcastle University
11 August 2009 11:00-16:00

Your participation is invited either as a delegate or contributor to this one day event hosted by the Combined Studies Centre at Newcastle University.

Event outline:

Combined and Joint Honours degree programmes attract students who wish to study two or more distinct subjects. These students desire a reasonable level of choice in choosing modules and
therefore flexibility is the key component of such programmes. However, the extent of flexibility and the study of multiple subjects creates tensions with a number of significant issues:

  • Students express a lack of ‘academic’ identity with both the degree and their subjects. Related to this is a lack of opportunity for students to form social bonds with other students on their degree.
  • Students perceive (and may experience) academic disadvantage in that subject as a consequence of studying only X% of a single subject and also may have a sense of inferior academic support in that subject in comparison to single honours.
  • Curriculum coherence is more problematic. There is less space for important topics such as academic skills, career skills, and independent learning development. Subjects often prefer (and are inhibited by practical constraints) to offer a menu of ‘taught’/ ‘content’ modules to combinedhonours students rather than ‘process’ modules including skills, research methods, projects and dissertations.
  • There are problems with supporting and coordinating these degrees stemming from a confusion about who takes responsibility, e.g. for ensuring that personal tutoring is effective.It appears quite problematic to develop programmes in which there is genuine interdisciplarity through, for example, opportunities for students to integrate their subjects together.


Proposals are invited to offer a workshop session about ways of alleviating these tensions and therefore enhancing the quality of the student experience and outcomes or achieving some sense of
interdisciplinarity in joint and combined degrees. Such good practice could take a variety of forms – innovative approaches to curriculum, programme structures, infrastructural support, administration or social and academic integration etc. For further details contact

To register for this event please contact Laura Thomson, Combined Studies Centre Administrator

Contact Name:
Laura Thomson
Contact Telephone:
0191 222 7871
Contact Email:

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