Skip to main content

What is an Honours Degree? 

June 19, 2023 |

Ever wondered what an honours degree is? Or what it means to graduate ‘with honours’? How about the difference between a pass degree and an honours degree? Well, buckle up, we’re diving deep into the world of honours degrees.

What is an honours degree in the UK?

An honours degree, simply put, is a form of higher education qualification awarded to students who’ve shown exceptional academic prowess. It’s a merit-based acknowledgement that signals to employers or postgraduate study institutions that the graduate is a cut above the rest, a whiz in their chosen field.

Unlike a typical bachelor’s degree, an honours degree requires a higher level of commitment. It typically involves additional coursework, a higher standard of work, or a research project or dissertation. Students in honours programs are given opportunities to explore their chosen subjects more deeply, hone their research skills, and potentially contribute novel ideas or findings to their fields.

Now, here comes the real question: how does one end up graduating ‘with honours’?

What does it mean to graduate with honours?

graduating with honours

Graduating with honours generally signifies academic excellence achieved over the course of a student’s university education. It’s a kind of academic high-five for students who’ve gone the extra mile in their studies.

Different universities and education systems have varying criteria for awarding honours, but in most cases, it’s all about grades. These grade thresholds are typically high – we’re talking A-grade averages – and you’ll usually need to maintain this high standard throughout your course to graduate with honours.

But wait, there’s more to it than just acing your exams. The process often involves undertaking an honours project or dissertation, which requires an element of original research, pushing the student to expand their understanding and contribute to the wider knowledge in their field.

The Joint Honours Degree

You might also come across something called a ‘joint honours degree’. In this special kind of degree, students study two different subjects concurrently, receiving an honours qualification in both. It’s perfect for those with varied interests, or who want to broaden their career prospects.

Just imagine the range of combinations possible: History and Philosophy, Computer Science and Art, Business and Psychology – the list goes on. Each combination provides a unique blend of skills and knowledge that can make a graduate stand out in the job market.

Pass Degree vs Honours Degree

At this point, you might be wondering about the difference between a ‘pass degree’ and an ‘honours degree’. Is it just a title, or does it have any real-world implications?

A pass degree is the basic level of degree that you can achieve at a university. It demonstrates that you’ve met all the learning requirements of your course and are competent in your field.

On the other hand, an honours degree is a step up. It means you’ve not only passed, but you’ve shone. You’ve shown a higher level of understanding, deeper analytical abilities, and a dedication to your studies that sets you apart from your peers.

In the job market, having an honours degree can offer an edge. It can help you stand out in a pool of applicants and potentially secure higher-level positions. Additionally, it might be a prerequisite if you’re looking to continue your studies at a postgraduate level.

How does your degree affect your career?

An honours degree is a recognition of academic excellence. Whether it’s a single or joint honours degree, this qualification reflects a level of dedication, skill, and knowledge that can open doors in the job market and beyond.

Understanding the difference between a pass degree and an honours degree is vital when planning your educational journey, as it could have significant implications on your career progression and further education options. So, when it comes to planning your higher education, knowing what an honours degree is, how it’s achieved, and what it can do for you, is of utmost importance.

The Path to an Honours Degree

One thing to note is that earning an honours degree usually requires more than just stellar grades. It also involves additional work, which could include a final year project or dissertation that contributes to your field of study.

While this might sound daunting, it’s worth remembering that the rewards of an honours degree often outweigh the extra effort. With the accolade of an honours degree on your academic CV, you demonstrate your commitment to your discipline, showcase your ability to work independently, and highlight your analytical and problem-solving skills, all of which are highly valued in today’s competitive job market.

An Honours Degree Around the Globe

It’s important to note that the interpretation and execution of an honours degree can vary globally. In the UK, Australia, Canada, and South Africa, for instance, it is often an additional year of study after a bachelor’s degree. 

In the United States, on the other hand, graduating with honours often means graduating with a high GPA or taking part in an honours program during your undergraduate studies.


studying at university

So, there you have it! The lowdown on what an honours degree is, what it means to graduate ‘with honours’, the benefits of a joint honours degree, and the key distinctions between a pass and an honours degree.

Whether you’re a high-school graduate contemplating university choices, a university student wondering whether to go for that extra year of study, or simply a lifelong learner curious about the world of academia, understanding the concept of an honours degree and its potential benefits is key to informed decision-making.

Whether your studying and want a pass, honours or anything else, being a student can be difficult. One thing that doesn’t have to be difficult is storage. At Urban Locker, we offer student storage at amazing prices.