Decoder: Understanding the Difference Between an "Honors" Degree & A Non-Honors Degree

The Botswana International University of Science & Technology (BIUST) is currently embroiled in a public spat content with the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA) over the validity of some of their "Honours" engineering courses.

According to BIUST, only the Honours versions of the said courses are facing some accreditation hurdles, and not the non-Honours versions of the same courses.

This begs the question of, what is the difference between an Honours and a non-Honours course? This Decoder article answers that question.

What is an Honours Degree

An honours degree is one that is intended to be of a higher calibre than a regular degree. The curriculum for these degrees calls for greater achievement while still in the undergraduate stage. It introduces knowledge in a particular setting that encourages choosing the course of research and professional endeavour.

What are the types of Honours Degrees?

Now that you know what is Honours Degree, lets understand the types of Honours Degree. The nicest part about earning an honours degree is that you can do so in a variety of ways depending on your goals and preferred methods of study.

The Types of Honours Degrees

1. Single Honours Degree

After completing your undergraduate studies, you may choose to pursue a stand-alone honours degree, which is regarded as an additional course. You can take a course that combines three disciplines into one honours degree, such as Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, to specialise in one of your undergraduate subjects. In contrast to integrated or embedded honours, where you finish your honours requirements throughout the course of your study, this variety differs by needing an additional year of study.

2. Joint/Combined Honours Degree

If you choose to pursue a joint or combined honours degree, you can study various disciplines at the undergraduate level independently. This is for all the top students who can't be content to specialise in just one subject and desire the chance to have two or even three subject specialisations as part of their conventional undergraduate degree. You select different study modules for each subject, and each one is offered by a different department or school within the University. This is how it works. Therefore, unless you aim high and select three disciplines, each would account for a third of your total mark.

3. A Degree with an Honours Project

One of the simplest options for earning an honours degree is this one. It would be a typical three-year degree that includes a project or dissertation in the last year of study. Additionally, it would have a credit value of 360 as compared to a conventional bachelor's degree's credit value of 300 and the absence of the dissertation.

What is the difference between an Honours Degree and a Non-Honours Degree?

The requirement for subject specialisation is the primary distinction. A more qualified and superior grasp of research is necessary for an honours degree throughout the programme. Additionally, more tests and prerequisites would need to be passed than for a degree without honours. 

Bachelor's degrees, on the other hand, focus primarily on building a solid foundation for students so they can easily grasp the complexities of each field. But they would need to enrol in a different course with a speciality if they wanted to learn more about them.

The amount of challenging and in-depth education needed to finish the programme is the primary distinction between an honours degree and a non-honours degree. In comparison to a non-honours degree, an honours degree often calls for more advanced courses, independent study, and a greater level of academic success. 

Honours students may also be qualified for additional academic honours or recognition upon graduation and are typically expected to maintain a higher grade point average. A thesis or capstone project may be among the supplementary requirements for honours degrees.

Specialised seminars, limited class sizes, and chances for individual research and study with professors are further features of Honours programmes at several colleges. A lot of academic support may be provided as well as the possibility of credit transfer to graduate or professional degree programmes if you enrol in an honours programme.

Key differences between an Honours Degree and a Non-Honours degree

We can infer the main distinctions between an honours degree and a non-honours degree now that you are fully aware of what an honours degree is and what it entails.

First off, it goes without saying that non-honours degrees are significantly simpler to pursue. 

A higher, more specialised level of research is required throughout an honours degree, and it differs from a non-honours degree in how new knowledge is generated each year. 

Whether you decide to finish it after your undergraduate studies or incorporate it inside, it would also involve passing more exams and prerequisites compared to a non-honours degree.

A non-honours degree requires you to study each subject separately, whereas an honours degree allows you to specialise in one or two disciplines, giving you access to a particular, integrated curriculum. 

Additionally, it would be your passport to earning a doctorate or a master's by research.

Information sourced from Amber Blog.

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