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Studying and Courses

Joint honours: double the trouble?

A joint honours can double your skillset, but does it double your workload? Not with these work-balancing tips from Law/Spanish undergraduate Trisha Ong.

Studying Law alongside other subjects can be hard work. I study Law with Spanish and although it has many benefits, it was really hard, initially, to find a balance and ensure I was doing my best in both areas of my degree. This is still an on-going process and you have to take it one day at a time, and find the study style that best suits you. Here, my top tips.

Trisha getting some inspiration from Galileo on Queen's campus

1. Structure your week

Being an LLB student involves a lot of reading each week. We have to read case law, critically analyse and effectively argue our ideas, whereas Spanish requires students to improve their vocabulary, expand their grammatical knowledge and practise the language.

I have found little similarity between the classes for each subject, for example, in Law, I had lectures and tutorials for each module, while Spanish consisted of text, grammar, oral and cursillo. This make it harder to balance the work. But through trial and error, I realised that prioritising your Major is the best way to structure your daily tasks.

For me, I had to give more time towards my reading lists on my Law modules. This meant more of my time during the week was dedicated to reading the textbooks, making notes and preparing for lectures and tutorials.

However, your minor is still of crucial importance – after all, you chose it for a reason. For example, Spanish requires constant practice so that you do not forget, and you keep improving. You need to allocate time for all your modules, as well as your extra-curriculars.


Trisha in Queen's School of Law 

2. Indulge your stationary obsession

What really helped me stay on top of my work was having a planner, as it’s easy to forget the small tasks when you are really busy. A planner allows me to track my deadlines and my classes, and to complete all of the work I need to do. It’s also worth investing in post-it notes, as these can help with your workload.

My planner helps me allocate sufficient time for both of my courses, and lets me see if I am spending too much time on Law and not enough for Spanish, and vice-versa.

At Queen’s, there are many clubs, societies and roles for students to take part in. When you have a planner, you can keep track of meetings and other events throughout the year.

If, like me, you love stationary, it’s a good excuse to invest in a more extravagant planner as they often have useful sections, such as to-do lists or a monthly overview. Find the style that works for you and what you think will help you be more productive.


 Joint Honours = an excuse to shop fancy staionary

3.  Know the (weighted) score

A joint honours course at Queen’s usually constitutes of a Major and Minor (although courses such as French and Spanish can be 50-50). It is best to research this beforehand, in order to be aware of which one affects your final grade more. 

In my case, I have two Law modules and one Spanish per semester and each one varies in their assessment. You may have several examinations throughout the year or all in summertime. You should refer to your syllabus or ask your professors when your assessment is and what kind of exam it will be. As this helped me arrange what kind of preparation, I needed to do prior to exam time and how best to maximise my revision time.

4. Be patient, until you find your groove

As with anything in life, you have to give yourself time to settle in and improve. You will eventually become accustomed to balancing both courses and your extra-curriculars. Hopefully, your joint-honours course combines subjects that you love and are interested in. You need to give yourself time to experience all aspects of both your subjects and ultimately you will find a flow within your daily routine.

From my experience, Queen’s offers a lot of support for all subjects, so you can always ask for help in any area. You can contact your advisor of studies who can give you more specific advice on managing your time.

Remember, you don’t need to have everything figured out! Just breathe, work hard and enjoy your student life!


Interested in a Joint Honours?

Photo: Trisha Ong, LLB Law and Spanish
Trisha Ong, LLB Law and Spanish