Life as a first-year Flexible Combined Honours student – English and Economics

Hi everyone, my name is Haowei and I am from London. I have just completed my first year as a Flexible Combined Honours (FCH) student studying English and Economics.

Whenever I introduce my degree to people, I’m often faced with responses like “what’s Flexible Combined Honours?” or “I didn’t know you could do that, that’s such a cool degree!”  Hopefully this blog will clarify what Flexible Combined Honours is and give you an insight into my experience as an FCH student this year.

Why did I choose FCH?

What made me decide to choose FCH is the flexibility of the course. As someone who was unsure of what they want to study and what career to pursue, having my options open was definitely very important. FCH gives you the option to essentially make up your own course by combining two, sometimes even three unrelated subjects, which results in a tailor-made degree that is suited to your interest and a more inter-disciplinary approach to learning. This year, I have decided to split my module credits evenly between English and Economics, however you can choose to do more modules in one subject and less in the other, which will give a major-minor feel to your degree.

In English, my modules were all optional, and I had the chance to study a variety of literature from as early as the Bible all the way up until the modern day. My favourite module this year had to be Film Studies: An introduction, it was such a great opportunity to branch out into an area of study that I have not encountered before. I really enjoyed learning about film theories as well as formal analysis and applying what I have learnt to an essay.

Economics was a step up from A-Level, but surprisingly less maths heavy than I expected. I enjoyed learning new economic theories and models and applying what I have learnt to real life situations. My personal finance management module this year was my favourite, it is very applicable to our daily lives and made me realise how important financial management is­–I would definitely recommend taking this module!

Study tips

Because the two subjects are so different and the workload varies greatly between the two, I found it hard to balance my work and manage my time at first. It is important to be organised and keep on top of your work, especially with Economics when each week builds on the knowledge of the previous week. After each lecture, I would make sure to watch the recording again and take my time to understand all the new concepts thoroughly. English involves much more independent learning, so it is up to you to do the reading and go to seminars prepared. Also, it’s incredibly easy to leave essays until the last minute–I’m guilty of this! But if you dedicate a small amount of time each day reading and making notes for your essay, when it comes to writing you will already have a rough idea of what you want to say. Office hours are an extremely valuable resource that’s under-utilised. Your lecturers and tutors are there to support you and if you need anything, don’t be afraid to go and talk to them because they are always happy to help.

Careers supports

Being a FCH student means that you will be equipped with a wide range of versatile skills which is great for employability. The career support at Exeter is amazing, and because I belong to two Colleges (College of Humanities and Business School), I can get involved either College’s career events, as well as having access to the central Career Zone that everyone can use. Currently, I am considering a career in commercial law, and I have been able to book 1:1 appointments with the career zone team for CV reviews and application checks which has proven to be very useful.

Overcoming challenges

There are a few downsides to being a FCH student that I experienced. Timetabling might be an issue at the start of the term as there might be module clashes resulting in you not being able to take certain modules. Also, at times it is unclear which hub you need to go to sort out admin issues. The Peter Chalk hub usually deals with FCH queries, however sometimes an amount of coordination and communication is required between hubs, so you need to be proactive and chase up any problems you need solving. Splitting your time between two subjects might make you feel like you don’t know either groups of students very well as you are only spending half your time with your course mates, this is definitely something that I struggled with. However, joining your subjects’ society will hopefully mitigate this, I’ve been able to meet many of my course mates through socials put on by societies.

Final thoughts

Overall, I have had a great year as a FCH student and I am very much looking forward to my second year. I think the opportunity to earn such a unique degree will definitely set you apart in the jobs market due to the variety of skills you gain. If you are a prospective student, or even a current student who has never heard of FCH, I hope this has been insightful and informative!


   June 18th, 2020    Higher Education, Lectures and Seminars, Studying, Undergraduate

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