Studying a Double Degree at University – What’s it Like?

By ATAR Notes in Easy Reading
1st of August 2019
What a double degree is like

In this article, we (“AN”) chat with two current university students – forum members fantasticbeasts3 (“FB3”) and katie,rinos (“KR”) – about their experiences studying a double degree at university.

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AN: Hey team. Really appreciate your time! First of all, for context, what are you both studying?

FB3: I’m studying a Bachelor of International Studies/Bachelor of Media (PR & Advertising) at UNSW. I’m majoring in international business and minoring in German studies for the International Studies portion of my degree(s).

KR: I’m studying a Bachelor of Music/Bachelor of Education (Secondary) at UNSW.


AN: Cool! So both of you are currently at UNSW – did you always want to study those courses?

FB3: No – I actually wanted to study commerce first! It took a while for me to realise that my passions were in the humanities so that’s when I started looking for degrees that would fit that.

KR: Yeah – I’ve kinda wanted to be a teacher since around years 6-7. I think when I was choosing I would have loved to be able to teach both history and music though.


AN: You’re studying quite different courses, but they’re both double degrees. Why did you choose a double degree in the end?

FB3: Originally I planned on doing International Studies as a single degree, but my mum encouraged me to double it up with something else for better career prospects. I took my mum’s advice and chose Media as my second degree, and thank goodness I did because I love both.

KR: Education [at UNSW] requires you to do a double degree (if you are looking at doing undergraduate). You need to do an education degree and another degree in your method area (what you want to teach). When I was doing yr 12, I was pretty sure I wanted to go into teaching so I was set on either a bachelor of music/ed, or arts/ed.


AN: Super. So if you think back to your expectations before you started, have your degrees met those expectations?

FB3: Yes, and no. I expected that I wouldn’t like Media as much (definitely the case) and I thought the workload would be crazy but it’s pretty manageable.

KR: I’ve found most of the music units really fun because it was what I was most excited to learn about. However, I found my education units (especially in 1st year) a lot more boring because I couldn’t see how they would be practical/relate to teaching music.


AN: In your view, what are the pros and cons of a double degree?

FB3: Pros – two degrees in a shorter timeframe, you can explore two interests at the same time
Con – you don’t have as many electives

KR: Pros: two different cohorts to talk to, shorter to do two degrees, explore two interests
Cons: No electives


AN: Pretty consistent, there! How about the workload? How many hours do you have?

FB3: It’s pretty manageable. If I take 3 subjects a term (there are 3 terms a year at UNSW), I’ll be in class 12 hours a week. Every subject definitely requires work outside of class, so if I add two hours per subject it’s another 6 hours at home. Languages are definitely more time consuming and you need to dedicate around 20 minutes a day to practicing; not to mention there are more contact hours.

KR: Pretty manageable. I do 3 subjects a term, and we have 3 terms this year. I’m at uni 4 days a week, and have 11 hours of classes. If I have assessments, you need to spend more time at home/uni working on them. Otherwise, for my performance class I’m normally trying to practise at least 40 minutes a day.


AN: Awesome. Finally, do you have any advice for those considering a double degree, or who are not sure what to study at uni?

FB3: Find out what you like first before choosing a degree! Don’t prioritise career options because you might end up making yourself do something you don’t like, and that’s not fun. Good luck!!

KR: Go for what you’re interested in and what you’d what to spend another 3-5 years studying!! Ask people a lot of questions and go to open days/career expos to see your options and what/where you might want to study.

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