Joint honours courses need better communication

Doing a joint honours subject is a great choice for those who want to pursue two different subjects at the same time. Perhaps you were undecided on which subject you wanted to do, or were torn between different disciplines? This was my reasoning for choosing to do both Language and Literature. Our year was the first to trial it as one single honours course, yet is still technically treated as double honours.

Right from the start, this was very confusing. I had two personal tutors, yet wasn’t sure who to see about what. I was also missed off some of the e-mail lists, with each subject thinking I was solely doing the other subject. When applying for second year modules, there were clashes between core modules in Language and modules I really wanted to do in Literature, or times when it was impossible to find a seminar that would fit into the timetable. And to top it off, in my final semester of my final year, I now have two essays due in for Literature on the same date as a Language exam.

Yes, I understand that the Easter holidays have kind of messed around the structure of the semester. But I now have to write two lots of 3,000 word essays whilst trying to revise for an exam whilst doing lectures at the same time. Considering my school has the word ‘Communication’ in the title, I am doubting how successfully the subjects have really communicated.

At first, I thought I was just being a bit over-dramatic. Third year sucks and we have to do a lot, get over it. But when I was talking to other joint honours students, it does seem that poor communication between schools is a common problem. Grace, a first year JOMEC and ENCAP student told me: “I’ve had timetable clashes and I’m currently finding it difficult sorting out registering for second year modules as my two schools have different enrolment procedures with very limited information and support for joint honours students… I shouldn’t need to prompt the two schools to communicate better.” Similarly, James, a first year Politics and JOMEC said “I think the bad thing is you don’t feel a part of either department! I guess communication is poor from both sides due to the fact that you’re not completely attached to either of the schools.” Tom, a Journalism and Sociology student agreed with the other students, saying that “the two schools don’t seem to talk to each other at all”.

It turns out, the problem isn’t just at undergraduate level either. I also spoke to two Masters students, Lizzie and Lisa, who both study Science, Media and Communication. Lizzie said how “the lack of communication between SOCSCI and JOMEC at the start of the year was awful with regards to letting us know our timetables”. Lisa agreed, and told me that “they gave us so many optional modules in one school that clashed with core ones in a different school. We’re constantly running between JOMEC and SOCSI lost”. She even said how two core modules clashes meaning they had to leave some workshops early and missed important things but were never sent anything to catch up: “neither school could fully understand what we were missing”. Overall, it sounds incredibly frustrating that by Masters level this still isn’t being resolved.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Cardiff, it is just annoying that lack of communication between schools seems to have caused unnecessary stress for myself and other students. To me, it seems like double checking timetables between schools wouldn’t be too hard. If they offer the potential to join courses together, they need to make sure they actually can.