Hi, I’m Ellie, and I’m currently in my third year, studying Philosophy and Sociology at the University of York. I’m going to share with you the experiences I’ve enjoyed most about studying. Hopefully it’ll give you an insight into how to best manage studying a degree of this nature.
Studying a joint-honours degree can be daunting, so I hope to give an overview of the routine I’ve created that helps me be productive, and also have plenty of time for myself and the things I enjoy doing.
What I enjoy most about Philosophy and Sociology
Before enrolling into York, I originally wanted to study single-subject Philosophy, and I didn’t know what a joint-honours programme entailed. However, after much research, I opted for a joint study in Philosophy and Sociology, and have never regretted my choice to do so.
When people ask me what my favourite thing about the course is, it honestly is the combination of two subjects. Sociology was something I’d never studied before coming to university, and without the programme I would never have discovered my newfound love for it.
Studying the degree has allowed me to experience two separate departments, and devote my time to two areas of interest. The modules have aligned very well, and have worked together to provide a deeper understanding of the overall course.
Both programmes, in the second and third year, allow you to opt for specific branches of these topics. I’m very passionate about moral philosophy, and gained a new interest for political sociology that I was able to interconnect in the choices I made.
My study routine
1. Think about when you study best
I’m not a morning person, so I dedicate my study time to the afternoons and evenings. Finding when you study best in the day can be really beneficial to how productive you are, as well as how effective your work is.
So don’t feel pressured to wake up at the crack of dawn or study until the depths of night. Instead, allocate the times in the day when you feel most productive, and allot those you don’t to some down or social time.
2. Think about what your degree requires you to study the most
The main components of Philosophy and Sociology are seminar readings, and good notes to accompany them. The essential readings tend to be quite long, so I find it easier to divide the number of pages into manageable chunks across the week.
Over time, you’ll get used to reading texts with lots of information and deciding which parts are most important. However, don’t feel pressured to read the whole text in one sitting; instead divide it across the week, so you’re reading no more than ten pages a day. This way, you pick up all the vital information in every sitting, as well as avoid becoming overwhelmed with lots of details.
3. Writing summary notes
As important as it is to keep on top of readings, it’s also crucial to keep good notes of the things you read. I usually allocate an hour at the end of each day to write concise and simple notes about the things I’ve read, as well as the things I’ve learned or may have struggled with in lectures.
Humanities and social sciences often include lots of information, so it’s important to set aside some time summarising things you’ve read or mentioned in lectures in your own words, as well as highlighting anything you struggle with.
Managing your time
Finding the balance between social time and uni work is always difficult. My first advice would be to write to-do lists that are realistic.
If you know you have a busy day of lectures and social events, avoid writing multiple things to study; instead write a couple of things you can easily fit in. If all you can fit in your day is completing a small chunk of reading or writing some questions to ask in a seminar, this is more than good enough!
Studying a degree with different mark schemes and requirements can often become overwhelming, so I find it easier to dedicate one day to Philosophy, then Sociology the next. In doing so, I familiarise myself with the mark schemes and criteria of whichever subject I have devoted to, and focus all my attention on this way of thinking for the day. This way, you avoid confusing the requirements of both subjects, and also devote enough time to both.
My final and most important step is to think about when you take breaks. Try to time your breaks when you feel least productive in the day. For example, if you feel most tired in the afternoons, allot your break to this time. I often stick by the 40/30 rule, where I have 40 minutes of study and 30 minutes of break.
This may seem arbitrary, but becoming self-aware leads to the most productive and healthy study routines. If you are aware you’re tired, be equally aware you need a break. If you are aware you don’t understand something, be aware to focus your study on that particular topic.
University is all about balance, and it’s important to spread out your work over the week, so you are both productive and have essential time for yourself. I hope you have gathered some tips into creating an effective study routine, and enjoy studying for a joint-honours degree as much as I do!