Only having four contact hours of uni a week doesn’t mean my degree is easy

I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy and stop shitting on other peoples’ degrees

It’s time to talk about the fact that us humanities students far too frequently have to deal with being told how easy our degrees are, and having to justify our reasons for our choice of discipline.

Having fewer contact hours on average than other subjects doesn’t negate the fact that we work just as hard.

While some of us only have four contact hours a week (two two-hour classes for fourth year Ancient History students like myself), people fail to take into account the fact that the preparation necessary for our seminars and tutorials more than makes up for our lack of time physically spent at uni.

So. much. reading.

So. much. reading.

Sometimes it seems that people think that I want to pay £9,000 a year for 88 hours of teaching time – that’s £102.27 per hour of teaching time if you were wondering – and to be perfectly honest, I sometimes feel like I’m not quite getting my money’s worth, but that’s a different argument entirely.

Doing all of the recommended and compulsory readings for just one of my two hour classes this week, which is around 500 pages when you add it all up, would most likely take me at least a day if I make adequate notes as I go, and allow time for a lunch break.

On top of this, I’m expected to prepare for another two hours of class as well as spend at least a day working on my dissertation? Now tell me that my course is a doss.

What makes the workload worse is the fact that a lot of the readings we are given are from books in the HUB (High Usage Books area for those who aren’t familiar), meaning that we have to trek to the library to do our work, regardless of whether or not it’s the working environment that works best for us, and hope that no-one else is using the book when we get there.

The Library (a.k.a. the place where dreams come to die)

The Library (a.k.a. the place where dreams come to die)

It baffles me that people insist on telling me how ‘lucky’ I am to spend such little time at uni, when they don’t seem to realise that motivating yourself to do what feels like an endless amount of reading every day is actually pretty hard work.

English Lit students, for example, are expected to read two books a week as well as do other prep for their classes. Please someone explain to me how that is easy?

Unlike other courses where students are sometimes encouraged to work and study in groups, reading and note-taking is definitely more of an individual task. This makes the days spent reading seem, in my experience, long, lonely and often futile – especially when more time is spent preparing for a class than actually being in it.

Alongside this, many humanities subjects are opinion-based and more qualitative in nature, meaning that there isn’t a simple right or wrong answer, and very rarely a mark above 75. Sifting through argument upon argument can be time-consuming, not to mention frustrating when you’re struggling to find that elusive perfect quote.

I am not arguing that humanities have it harder than other degree disciplines. All degrees are hard, that’s the whole point of uni.

I am, however, asking those who have a more demanding schedule of lectures and think that humanities are a bit of a doss to take a step back and realise that our degrees aren’t easy, we’re working just as hard as you.