It’s not a competition, Arts and Sciences are both hard

No need for civil war

The debate over the academic superiority of the Humanities vs. Sciences has been going on for as long as we can remember, especially in Manchester.

The Victoria University of Manchester and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology merged in 2004 to create an establishment which thrived in both Arts and Sciences. So both fields should be acknowledged as equally important, right? So why can’t we show that mutual respect?

Scientists believe their subjects are a lot harder than Humanities, and Humanities students are not so innocent ourselves.  We all like to believe that we are academically superior, but why can’t we just accept that the subjects are different and difficult in their own right?

Of course, there are arguments for both cases. Science degrees are very hands on, with long contact hours and gruesome homework tasks, they never catch a break. There is a constant demand for extensive knowledge of equations and theories and the expectations of the incredibly intelligent professors are extremely high.

Labs alone are also reason enough to steer clear of the Sciences. Not only do you have to attend (no-one cares about your hangover), but you have to sit for hours with little break staring at a test tube. Even then, the work isn’t over. You have to do a very long and detailed lab report when you get home. Supposedly the knowledge you gain in your lab sessions is imperative for revision later on in the year.

The sheer quantity of content required for a science exam is also beyond human ability. Their work looks like a foreign language, I can’t even begin to comprehend how intelligent you have to be to understand and utilise what you learn on your course. And with a million exams squeezed into the two week exam period, it’s no wonder you all move into the Ali G as soon as we start seeing some sun.

However, we need to acknowledge how testing a Humanities degree is.

Granted, we may not have a consuming number of contact hours but do you know how much reading is required every week? A lot. Approximately 80 pages of scholarly reading per seminar.

We’re also expected to do around 160 hours of independent study each week, proving to be an extremely difficult test in self discipline. On top of this? Essays. Regular essays are an absolute killer, which also entail a ridiculous amount of reading just to get your head around the subject you’re supposed to be writing 2,500 words on.

Such fun

The information we retain needs to be understood on a complex and intellectual level, and there is never really a moment where you shouldn’t be reading for the next essay. It is both time consuming and frustrating when you just can’t grasp that concept as well as everyone else appears to. Whilst trying to express these ideas in a way that looks extremely free flowing and creative, it must be formulaic, structured, and formatted using whatever gruelling referencing system your course requires. (Go to hell MHRA).

Also, what is up with the room numbers for Sam Alex? The place is a maze, anyone who can navigate that labyrinth without asking the cleaners for directions deserves a degree regardless.

Evidently the learning methods required by our choice of academia are different. But we’re still students, and we all go through the same things. We all give up on our assignments for a Netflix binge, miss our 9am’s despite setting 5 alarms and give up on personal hygiene around exam period.

It happens to us all

We all have moments where our course is too overwhelming, because regardless of your degree on the spectrum, uni is hard. If degrees weren’t hard, what would be the point in grade requirements and those depressing months of refreshing the UCAS page?

It’s about time we all stopped competing. Why do we have to bitch to each other about how hard our degrees are compared to other peoples? I can’t even fathom attempting to sit a Science exam – my brain doesn’t work that way and I respect those who can handle it. But I’m sure a Biologist wouldn’t be able to analyse a source from 897 AD either. We are all students trying our best. Society needs both Science and the Humanities to thrive, so let’s just exist in harmony.