harry:3
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Hello everyone!

This is my first time posting here on TSR and was just wondering if any of you have experience with joint honours language degrees.

I have just finished my first year studying History, which I have enjoyed overall even if the reading has been rather intensive at times. However, I can't help but feel that single honours might not allow me to make the most of the opportunities at university, because I really enjoyed studying both languages and history at school. I like Asian languages most, which is linked to my interests in history - as I plan to specialise towards the Asian courses in my degree and write the dissertation on some aspect of Chinese/Japanese history.

I am, therefore, considering applying for a transfer on to the Chinese and History degree at my university. I did Mandarin Chinese GCSE, and I gained an A* grade (somehow reaching 97 per cent overall) but I opted not to continue at A-level; instead opting for Chemistry, which was always a deep regret. I wrote my A-level History coursework on late imperial China, which scored full marks as I really enjoyed the process of researching and writing the essay. I think that taking a joint honours degree with a language would therefore be a no-brainer, to make me more competitive in the graduate job market and potentially for postgraduate. I am worried that, if I continue on this course, I risk throwing all of this down the drain and end up not being proficient in any foreign languages.

However, what is concerning me is that it is primarily a Chinese degree. For example, the dissertation would be within Chinese Studies, but I would definitely write that on a historical topic anyway. I am just really stuck as the Chinese side does look rather interesting, for example there are opportunities to learn the classical language and China is rich in history so it would be a great language to learn for a History student . . .

In spite of this, I am somewhat worried that I might not like China (I have never been before) and that it might equally make me less competitive for postgraduate degrees in History, as I will have less credits - not to mention it could impact my History marks. I will not have the same breadth of knowledge or practice as the single honours students.

I'm sorry to ramble on so much, but I'm hoping maybe someone here has gone through something similar? I have already consulted people at my university such as the Careers Service, etc. but it would be nice to hear from students

Thanks!
Harry
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Snufkin
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(Original post by harry:3)
Hello everyone!

This is my first time posting here on TSR and was just wondering if any of you have experience with joint honours language degrees.

I have just finished my first year studying History, which I have enjoyed overall even if the reading has been rather intensive at times. However, I can't help but feel that single honours might not allow me to make the most of the opportunities at university, because I really enjoyed studying both languages and history at school. I like Asian languages most, which is linked to my interests in history - as I plan to specialise towards the Asian courses in my degree and write the dissertation on some aspect of Chinese/Japanese history.

I am, therefore, considering applying for a transfer on to the Chinese and History degree at my university. I did Mandarin Chinese GCSE, and I gained an A* grade (somehow reaching 97 per cent overall) but I opted not to continue at A-level; instead opting for Chemistry, which was always a deep regret. I wrote my A-level History coursework on late imperial China, which scored full marks as I really enjoyed the process of researching and writing the essay. I think that taking a joint honours degree with a language would therefore be a no-brainer, to make me more competitive in the graduate job market and potentially for postgraduate. I am worried that, if I continue on this course, I risk throwing all of this down the drain and end up not being proficient in any foreign languages.

However, what is concerning me is that it is primarily a Chinese degree. For example, the dissertation would be within Chinese Studies, but I would definitely write that on a historical topic anyway. I am just really stuck as the Chinese side does look rather interesting, for example there are opportunities to learn the classical language and China is rich in history so it would be a great language to learn for a History student . . .

In spite of this, I am somewhat worried that I might not like China (I have never been before) and that it might equally make me less competitive for postgraduate degrees in History, as I will have less credits - not to mention it could impact my History marks. I will not have the same breadth of knowledge or practice as the single honours students.

I'm sorry to ramble on so much, but I'm hoping maybe someone here has gone through something similar? I have already consulted people at my university such as the Careers Service, etc. but it would be nice to hear from students

Thanks!
Harry
A joint honours degree with half your degree in history would be absolutely fine for postgraduate history study. Look at the research student profiles on the people section of history department websites or do a LinkedIn google search to see how many people who have done/are doing History PhDs/MAs did a joint hons undergrad degree.

If you want to learn Chinese/learn more about Chinese history, culture and society in general than a joint hons degree is a great idea. Chinese is, as I'm sure you know, a very difficult language so you might not graduate as fluent as you would do if you studied a European language, but you will still be reasonably proficient as long as you put in the work, and you'd certainly be a great deal more proficient than you are now - so what have you got to lose?
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harry:3
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(Original post by Snufkin)
A joint honours degree with half your degree in history would be absolutely fine for postgraduate history study. Look at the research student profiles on the people section of history department websites or do a LinkedIn google search to see how many people who have done/are doing History PhDs/MAs did a joint hons undergrad degree.

If you want to learn Chinese/learn more about Chinese history, culture and society in general than a joint hons degree is a great idea. Chinese is, as I'm sure you know, a very difficult language so you might not graduate as fluent as you would do if you studied a European language, but you will still be reasonably proficient as long as you put in the work, and you'd certainly be a great deal more proficient than you are now - so what have you got to lose?
Hi Snufkin!

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply

I'll definitely have a look for the research student profiles as you suggested. I do know that a lot of the historians working in the department have proficiency in other languages - one lecturer is fluent in Chinese and works with classical documents, and one of my tutors this past year could speak Italian (that's what made me think about changing).

It's going to be a difficult decision - it is slightly weighted more towards Chinese (80 credits versus 40, but I could pick history modules within Chinese Studies modules anyway) and I don't really know the Chinese department at all which is putting me off slightly. I will definitely be giving it some careful thought because, as you say, there is a lot to gain and not really anything to lose.

Thanks again!
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Alexnicklen96
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I have a number of friends and coursemates that study either Chinese and History or Chinese Studies. One of the guys who studies Chinese and History is the best History student I've met across my three years of study (I'm a Politics and History student). His marks have definitely not been affected by doing both. He is also applying for MAs in History (not Chinese history) at the moment and he has offers from places like St Andrews. So it doesn't seem to affect postgraduate admissions. MAs in History at most universities are not terribly competitive and joint honours courses are suitable preparation for the ones that are.

As you've indicated, the discipline of Chinese Studies can be very historical if you want it to be. I know that people on the Chinese Studies degree can take various History modules and can and do write history-based dissertations. If you think about it, Chinese language is brilliant preparation for doing history. When you write something on Chinese history you obviously need to consult primary sources in archives. You need to understand those sources.
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username4111606
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My advice would be - book in a session with your personal tutor and/or the head of faculty for the programs you are interested in. Speak to them about this and they will be able to assist you. They are usually really helpful, I’ve always had my problems sorted within a day or two because they know the appropriate entry requirements/people to contact etc.
We can only give you motivation or general advice, it’s your university that is ultimately going to make the decision on whether you can make this program change. So contact them ASAP.

Good luck 😁
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harry:3
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I've now decided to transfer to Chinese and History - thanks everyone so much for the help! The university already said they would approve my application, so I can't wait
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