Distinguishing Between Discipline & Subject

Key Takeaways

  • Discipline refers to a branch of academic study, whereas subject refers to a branch of knowledge studied or taught.
  • Discipline is associated with academia and can be seen in higher educational institutions, while subjects are often adjusted to accommodate the goals of education and can be taught in schools.
  • Disciplines produce academics or specialists, whereas subjects attempt to provide knowledge in line with the overall educational purpose.

Discipline and Subject are two words relating to fields of knowledge that often confuse people. This article aims to clarify the meanings and differences between the two terms.

What is a Discipline?

Discipline refers to a branch of academic study, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, mathematics, and philosophy. These can mostly be seen in higher educational institutions like universities. However, this does not mean that disciplines cannot be seen in other educational settings, such as schools. For example, mathematics is a school subject that is also a discipline found in higher educational institutions.

Disciplines usually consist of theoretical backgrounds, research and experiments, and groups of experts in the discipline. For example, a person who is pursuing studies in a particular discipline not only gains an in-depth understanding of it but also conducts experiments or research. Such a person is considered as specializing in the chosen discipline.

However, the word discipline can also refer to the training of people to obey rules or a code of behavior. For example, in schools, disciplining the child is considered an essential part of learning as subject knowledge.

What is a Subject?

Subject refers to a branch of knowledge studied or taught. In schools, children learn various subjects such as mathematics, science, language, history, religion, music, art, dancing, health, etc. These subjects are also branches of knowledge but are often adjusted to accommodate the goals of education. When speaking of subjects, attention paid to research is rather minimal.

The word subject has other meanings as well. It is used to refer to the word in a sentence naming who or what performs the action of the verb. For example, in the sentence “Jim played tennis,” the subject or the person who does the action is Jim. It can also be used to refer to a member of a state ruled by a monarch, such as when we say the kind addressed his subjects, meaning the king spoke to his people.

What is the difference between Discipline and Subject?

Definitions of Discipline and Subject:
Discipline: Discipline refers to a branch of academic study.
Subject: Subject refers to a branch of knowledge studied or taught.

Characteristics of Discipline and Subject:
Discipline: A discipline produces academics or specialists.
Subject: A subject attempts to provide knowledge that is in line with the overall educational purpose.

Discipline: Disciplines are taught in higher educational institutions such as universities.
Subject: Subjects are taught in educational institutions such as schools.

Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen is a talented writer with a flair for developing captivating content in a range of formats. Her commitment to thorough research and producing top-notch material has contributed to over 4 years of professional writing and editing experience. Outside of work, Maria finds pleasure in solitary activities and immersing herself in nature. Her introspective nature and passion for self-reflection inspire her creativity. She believes that spending time alone and observing the natural world can provide valuable insights and foster personal growth, broadening her perspective as a writer.


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