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Difference Between Honours and Ordinary Degree

Honours vs Ordinary Degree

The system of differentiating between students on the basis of marks obtained, or on the basis of some extra qualification earned at the undergraduate level has been introduced by the British, and can be seen in many parts of the world with some variations. Though, there has been a parallel Latin system that is used in US and some other countries, the process of awarding Honours degrees is said to be credited to UK. People are often confused between an Honours degree and an ordinary degree. Let us take a closer look.

Sometimes, you see someone mentioning his degree on his card along with the word Honours. There is nothing to be surprised about it, as most universities make this distinction between students, and offer degrees with or without Honours. All candidates sit for honours; some pass it while majority fail to pass it. Those who pass this exam get a degree with honours, and those who fail to qualify get an ordinary Pass degree. A candidate who fails badly at honours gets another attempt to pass, but is not given honours and he just gets a pass. Most universities in Britain award honours degree on the basis of average marks secured by the candidate. Students securing 70% or more marks are given First Class honours; 60-70% classifies a one for Upper Second Class, 50-60% get one Lower Second Class Honours and 40-50% qualify a student for Third Class Honours. Below this are of course ordinary Pass and lastly, Fail.

There is also a degree called First Class Honours with Distinction, which is the highest honours that can be achieved. Nationally (in UK), about 10% of students qualify for this achievement, while majority of students pass through with Second Class with Honours.

However, as described above this system of awarding honours degree on the basis of average marks obtained is not followed in ditto everywhere. In some universities an honours degree often means an extra year or extra course completed at the end of the regular degree course. A separate honours year means, either very specialized subject or a thesis and a large project.

There is no system of honours degree at master’s level or at the level of doctoral degrees. This is why one doesn’t hear about masters with honours or doctor with honours.

In brief:

Difference between Honours and Ordinary Degree

• The system of awarding honors degrees at undergraduate level is common in Britain, and in many other countries of the world.

• All candidates get a chance to pass with honours, and it depends upon their average marks obtained.

• Thus, there is First Class with Honours, Second Class with Honours and so on and lastly there is ordinary Pass.

• In some countries, it is not average marks obtained but an extra year with specialized subjects put in that classify one to get an honours degree


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