Why I study multiple subjects, and why you should, too!

Sarah Redman emphasises the value of interdisciplinary studies, and why you should consider picking up another subject.

WorldArtsMe - interdisciplinary studies
Photo: WorldArtsMe

You’ve just moved into your student accommodation, you’ve said a teary farewell to your parents and watched them turn around and drive the three hundred miles back home, wishing you were in the backseat.

Now there’s the daunting prospect of introducing yourself to your new flatmates. After the awkward hellos, the next thing you will be inevitably asked is “What do you study?”

As a student of Flexible Combined Honours, this question has always filled me with dread. After the first week, I became weary of the looks that followed my “History, Geography and Politics” response as an onslaught of questions usually trailed after: “So you’re studying three degrees?” “Why do you do that?” and even “That’s a stupid decision, how do you expect to get a job with that?”

Now, just to stop the confusion, I do not study three degrees. Weirdly, I do this because I enjoy it, and my employability is not reduced as a result. Flexible Combined Honours, or ‘Flexi’, is actually a brilliant degree, for the very simple reason that you get to skip all the boring bits! I don’t have to do a dissertation. I don’t have to do research modules. I don’t have to do Public History (I personally can’t think of anything worse). And the best part? I can build my own degree.

Now, I ask you, why pay £27,000 to do modules that you don’t enjoy or that you’re not interested in? I came to university to learn more about what I care about, and for many people that isn’t limited to one subject. I am interested in anthropogenic climate change, humanitarian intervention, security studies, the Middle East and population and economic growth. In other words, History, Politics, Geography, International Relations, Mathematics, Economics, Business and even Geology. My interests aren’t limited to one college, let along one subject.

The world isn’t neatly divided into little categories, so why should your education be?

If you’re one of the lucky few that are interested in just one subject, then you can stop reading. If not, then all I can suggest is to take the path less travelled (literally: there are only a handful of Flexi students in Penryn) or even just branch out a bit. Modularity is a great way to explore outside your discipline without losing your ‘single honours’ degree title.

So the next time you meet a Flexi, or a joint honours, student, instead of frowning and looking concerned, maybe have a chat and see what it means to decide your education for yourself!