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Frank Hovis

Honours Degrees

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Enlighten me on this.

I sometimes see them on CVs and see people refer to them on here.

I thought degrees were graded, so 1, 2.1 etc. for first degrees and credit, pass for masters. So if somebody has a 2.2 that's their degree grade.

Is there a 2.2 and a 2.2 honours then? Is it purely linguistic buffering as it sounds better? Or do some universities or countries differentiate between degrees and honours degrees?

Up to about ten years ago I'd not heard of them so maybe they're a new thing.

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They used to be called "pass degrees" when I was at University. And that was a really long time ago!

I think you got one if you got less than was needed for a third class honours degree - which used to mean under 40% - I'm not sure what the lower limit was though. But I think you started out on the same degree course as those who ended up with honours.

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Oh OK, I know what pass degrees are because a friend got one. There was also a "Special" which sounded a lot better than it was.

So it's:

1

2.1

2.2

3

Special

Pass / Honours

Fail

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Oh OK, I know what pass degrees are because a friend got one. There was also a "Special" which sounded a lot better than it was.

So it's:

1

2.1

2.2

3

Special

Pass / Honours

Fail

I'm not sure what you mean by Pass/Honours

I've always thought it was:

1st class honours degree

2.1 class honours degree

2.2 class honours degree

3rd class honours degree

Special (I've not heard of this)

Pass degree

Fail

EDIT: My first reply was extremely unclear!!

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No, Frank, that's not it. 'Honours' is just part of the degree/course title. I have a 2:1 B.A. (Hons.) but I didn't have to do anything to earn the honours bit. I'm just a filthy humanities graduate though and therefore scum of the earth, it might be different for proper degrees. I voted leave so I'm also thick.

Might be different outside the UK.

EDIT - Wikipedia reckons you get the 'honours' bit if you have a sufficiently high 'grade point average', not sure if that is correct or not.

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No, Frank, that's not it. 'Honours' is just part of the degree/course title. I have a 2:1 B.A. (Hons.) but I didn't have to do anything to earn the honours bit. I'm just a filthy humanities graduate though and therefore scum of the earth, it might be different for proper degrees. I voted leave so I'm also thick.

Might be different outside the UK.

Well that's what I thought it was, part of the default setting, but the way it was being stressed suggested that it was something different.

Somebody who stressed it was Scottish so I wondered if it was part of their different system like "highers" but English people use it as well. I did ask her and she said about doing an extra year for honours which sounded odd but maybe was how that particular Uni worked.

With the differing opinions on here I'm glad I asked as I thought it was just me not getting it.

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Hons is normal. Most institutions split honours degrees into 1st, upper second (2/1), lower second (2/2) and third class honours.

Some institutions offer a pass degree as a lesser qualification: for example with the Open University you can get it on fewer credits, which presumably works for some of their students. Otherwise it effectively means you failed in the degree but succeeded in licking the right boots.

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I always thought that honours was related to what you specialised in (BSc Honours in Chemistry, or whatever). Scottish Universities used to have a distinction between Ordinary degrees (which took 3 years, and you took a selection of courses without specialising in anything in particular) and Honours degrees (which took 4 years and you focussed on a particular subject). Ordinary degrees used to be fairly popular, but maybe since the 1950s/60s they've declined to the point where I'm not even sure if the universities still offer them (unless maybe you decide to bail out after 3 years or something).

Things were presumably different in England, and probably different again in Oxford/Cambridge.

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Sounds like another way for an elite to confuse the prols with bells and whistles adornments.

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Well that answers the Scottish question, the person probably took their degree in the 70s or 80s when an ordinary degree was a reasonable option at a Scots uni so she would want to underline that she did the extra year.

Maybe the English grads using it are copying this even though it hasn't the same meaning as it sounds better or worrying that employers will think you have an ordinary (as in below a third) degree if you don't stress the honours.

Maybe some people would assume this. I had a recruitment agency challenge me for not putting my O level grades on my CV with the suggestion that people who don't list them have something to hide. I won't list my qualifications but I of course had done on my CV and IMO putting what grades I got in my O Levels was on a par with listing my boy scout badges in terms of relevance.

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Hons is normal. Most institutions split honours degrees into 1st, upper second (2/1), lower second (2/2) and third class honours.

Some institutions offer a pass degree as a lesser qualification: for example with the Open University you can get it on fewer credits, which presumably works for some of their students. Otherwise it effectively means you failed in the degree but succeeded in licking the right boots.

Correct.

A pass literally meant you took the course ie attended lectures coursework but failed to score over 40%.

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I'm not sure what you mean by Pass/Honours

I've always thought it was:

1st class honours degree

2.1 class honours degree

2.2 class honours degree

3rd class honours degree

Special (I've not heard of this)

Pass degree

Fail

EDIT: My first reply was extremely unclear!!

Special might be General in some places.

I didn't do an honours year as such as I was told I could resit a year (Failed one poxy module, no thanks) or pick from anything anywhere in the university if I could get a place on the course. So I went from doing two years of science to a mix of science and arts. I did one course that was honours third year level but the rest was a right mix of stuff. The history lecturer loved having me on the course.

The arts stuff was a lot less intensive than the lab stuff in terms of hours. And the first person who says 'oh but there's lots of reading for the arts' - hiss off and learn to read faster.

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Special might be General in some places.

I didn't do an honours year as such as I was told I could resit a year (Failed one poxy module, no thanks) or pick from anything anywhere in the university if I could get a place on the course. So I went from doing two years of science to a mix of science and arts. I did one course that was honours third year level but the rest was a right mix of stuff. The history lecturer loved having me on the course.

The arts stuff was a lot less intensive than the lab stuff in terms of hours. And the first person who says 'oh but there's lots of reading for the arts' - hiss off and learn to read faster.

There is lots of reading for the arts. But it's relaxing and enjoyable, who doesn't like sitting around reading books?

The polytechnic I went to only did pass degrees. Served me well.

Okay, that would be another reason. I begin to see the point then as my assumption that a pass degree was a result of failing to get a third (which it can be) but it is also a specific qualification and you can get a 100% mark and get a pass degree.

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There is lots of reading for the arts. But it's relaxing and enjoyable, who doesn't like sitting around reading books?

Well quite, but we also had a lot of not quite so relaxing reading for the sciences but that was on top of 4 or 5 afternoons of lab work, plenty of hours lectures and tutorials as well.

Having done both arts and science courses I know the difference is huge. Research papers vs story books!

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It's

1st class honours degree

2.1 2nd class honours degree

2.2 2nd class honours degree (AKA a 'Desmond')

3rd class honours degree

Pass degree (no honours, so none are mentioned)

Fail

All degrees are passes, by definition.

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Well quite, but we also had a lot of not quite so relaxing reading for the sciences but that was on top of 4 or 5 afternoons of lab work, plenty of hours lectures and tutorials as well.

Having done both arts and science courses I know the difference is huge. Research papers vs story books!

I don't disagree, I did one year of science and then two of arts.

I spent if anything more time on the arts but it was much easier. There I've said it and I have an arts degree.

But when a non-relevant degree is all that's required why not do something that you enjoy rather than something that is much harder but gains you no increased benefit? That was my big realisation at the end of year one so I switched and it was absolutely the right thing to do. People were openly envious.

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It's

1st class honours degree

2.1 2nd class honours degree

2.2 2nd class honours degree (AKA a 'Desmond')

3rd class honours degree

Pass degree (no honours, so none are mentioned)

Fail

All degrees are passes, by definition.

From what people have said I don't agree.

A Pass degree can be either a very low mark in an honours degree course or it may be a qualification in its own right.

So:

Honours degree course: First, Upper Second, Lower Second, Third (all honours) then Pass / Special / Ordinary (all non-honours) then Fail

or

Pass degree course: Pass (with percentage), Fail.

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From what people have said I don't agree.

A Pass degree can be either a very low mark in an honours degree course or it may be a qualification in its own right.

So:

Honours degree course: First, Upper Second, Lower Second, Third (all honours) then Pass / Special / Ordinary (all non-honours) then Fail

or

Pass degree course: Pass (with percentage), Fail.

The number, 1st, 2nd etc. Is the class classification of the honours element of the degree. You can fail the honours component of a degree, but still have a pass for the degree. In which case you have a degree sans honours.

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I don't disagree, I did one year of science and then two of arts.

I spent if anything more time on the arts but it was much easier. There I've said it and I have an arts degree.

But when a non-relevant degree is all that's required why not do something that you enjoy rather than something that is much harder but gains you no increased benefit? That was my big realisation at the end of year one so I switched and it was absolutely the right thing to do. People were openly envious.

Absolutely. I wish I'd started in the arts side.

Saying that I do really enjoy the bee stuff I am studying now.

The only time I've ever mentioned the degree at an interview I said something like 'I've only got a general degree' and the guy nearly flipped cos that's all he had too and told me to be proud of my degree.

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The number, 1st, 2nd etc. Is the class classification of the honours element of the degree. You can fail the honours component of a degree, but still have a pass for the degree. In which case you have a degree sans honours.

Ah! Well I never knew that but that explains the terminology.

I guess that derives from an earlier system much like the Scottish one discussed where you did three years on a pass degree and then went on for a further year to take the honours papers.

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Ah! Well I never knew that but that explains the terminology.

I guess that derives from an earlier system much like the Scottish one discussed where you did three years on a pass degree and then went on for a further year to take the honours papers.

On my degree course there was an optional final year project which you needed to do to get an honours classification. The classification was based upon your marks for the project and your marks for all of the modules in the final 2 years.

Without the honours project you could only get a pass, even if you got 100% on all of the modules.

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