Types of courses
A ‘subsid’ is like a side dish — it counts towards your final belly-full, but it’s not what you chose the restaurant for. So you might be taking maths as your main dish with a side salad of, say, physics, computing, Latin, or whatever.
Many students regard subsids as nothing more than a distraction from the important stuff, but they’re usually a good opportunity to broaden your scope a notch and learn something new — something with, perhaps, more jobability than your main course. A language, for instance, or something vocational.
Not every course at every university, however, offers subsids. And you can’t always pick whatever you want as a side dish. Some universities offer a very limited menu, either because of timetable clashes or because they simply can’t be arsed to give you the choice.
A ‘joint’ honours course is not a degree in cooking roasts of meat or rolling spliffs, but a course where you study two subjects equally. You gotta juggle.
Some joint honours students complain that they don’t feel properly involved in either of their subjects and they’re not at home in either department.
Others reckon it’s the best way of avoiding ever getting bored with your subject and, at the end of the day, they’ve got broader qualifications than other students.
In reality, most joint honours students end up getting more into one subject than the other and, as the course goes on and they pick options for their second and third years, they find it amounts to little more than a delicious single honours degree that comes with with a particularly demanding sidesalad. More on the application process..
On which topic it’s worth mentioning that, since your time’s already divided, most joint honours courses don’t allow (let alone offer) subsids. Most, but not all.
‘Combined’ honours is the same really as joint honours, but instead of two equal subjects, you might have three (or more, even).
Now the juggling gets to be a real challenge. It’s quite a challenge to complete a combined honours course giving equal weight to all three subjects all the way through and feeling like you’ve really got to grips with them all. You tend to end up dropping at least one of your balls — to continue the juggling metaphor.
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It can give you even more time to flirt and fall in love with your subject at degree level before committing to it, forsaking all others.
The ultimate pick’n’ degree is the modular course. Not everywhere offers them and they vary from university to university (at some they’re no more than jumped up combined honours degrees), but the general idea is that you’re free to study ‘modules’ in just about any subject. You might do, say, four or five modules in a year and, so long as you pass them, you pick up credits. Get enough credits, you get a degree.
It’s not all cherry-picking though. Most modular courses require you to take (and pass) certain ‘core’ modules — usually ones you need for certain careers — and your choice is further compromised by a range of ‘pathways’ where they tell you what you can and can’t mix.
A big advantage is that you get to do a little of a lot of different things. It’s a big disadvantage too. Many students on modular courses do tend to find themselves choosing modules in the second and third year that they could have done within a more traditional course structure. But, hey: it doesn’t matter how you get there, just that you get there.
For students who may need to come and go out of higher education, however, the system really works. You can just keeping dropping in and out, doing a job for a while, coming back to take a module or two, and so on, stashing up the credits until either you’ve got a degree or as much of one as you want. (This isn’t just messing about with the system. It’s a recognised scheme called CATS — Credit Accumulation and Transfer — designed to help people continue education and improve their qualifications throughout their lives.)
Sandwich courses are nothing to do with bread and fillings, unless they happen to be at the Ginsters factory. It’s a metaphor. The bread symbolises slices of academic study. The filling is job experience on a work placement.
Basically, sandwich courses – thin, thick, club, toasted, whatever – are those that involve an industrial placement as a compulsory part of the course. In order to fit in the filling, most sandwich degree courses are four years rather than three.
This can be the answer to every strapped student’s woes, because they usually get paid for the working part of their course. It’s rarely as much as they’d get if they were doing the job as a fully paid-up employee, but that’s what’s in it for the employer. The student gets to do their course and the employer gets someone who is capable and cheap.
As a result, sandwich students tend to have fewer financial worries than most. Better still, sandwich courses also have a pretty good record of getting students into jobs when they graduate, quite often with the company they did the placement with.
It’s not all pay slips and high living, though. There are added expenses for sandwich students. For example, you’ll probably have to own a couple of smart outfits, forego the student lie-in and not have a clue what is going on in Neighbours.