Education: A-Z of Degrees - Mix It with the World's Power-Brokers ; Our Weekly Series Designed to Help You Pick the Right Course. This Week: Politics and International Studies
Keymer, Tamsin, The Independent (London, England)
What do you come out with? BA at Essex, Oxford, Westminster; BSc at LSE; and BSc(Econ) at Aberystwyth.
Why do it? Not to become an MP, but to hold your own in any intelligent forum - or because you believe in human rights, or want to understand why Swampy was a success, or why people kill each other in Kosovo.
What's it about? The structures of governments here and abroad, and how they talk to and deal with one another. Political theory covers concepts of equality, justice, rights and liberty. Comparative politics assesses systems - such as parliamentary and presidential democracies. Topics include party politics, electoral behaviour, social and unconventional behaviour, and what happens in every corner of the globe, including military and ethnic dimensions. No lectures in "how to spin" anywhere but, after the first year, extensive options everywhere. At Aberystwyth, a James Bond devotee can opt for intelligence studies with international politics; at Essex, you can specialise in democratic politics, while Liverpool offers courses in the environment and Third World development. At Oxford, politics is grouped with philosophy and economics as PPE.
How long is a degree? Three years; four years in Scotland.
What are the students like? "Nice, scruffy, muddled and intelligent," says Professor Freeden at Oxford. Equal numbers of men/ women, but departments specialising in international subjects attract a rich cultural mix of overseas students. They are intense, serious, and passionate about their subject - interested in what is going on around them and further afield. At LSE, students of government and politics run the biggest voluntary student society, the Shapiro Club.
How is it packaged? LSE and Oxford assess by final exam; Essex is half exams, half course-assessment. Modular degrees at, say, Aberystwyth or Westminster, assess by presentations, group work, and report writing.
How cool is it? Depends on how seriously you feel about current issues. The more serious you are, the cooler it becomes. The international stuff is great for tuned-in students who recognise its relevance.
What A-levels do you need? Anything goes. For joint degrees, there are individual college requirements.
What grades? AAB for LSE and Oxford; BBC for Essex; two good A- levels for Westminster.
Will it keep you off the dole? Depends on how good your degree is and where you got it. The subject is useful for journalism and media, civil service or teaching. Many Essex …
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Publication information: Article title: Education: A-Z of Degrees - Mix It with the World's Power-Brokers ; Our Weekly Series Designed to Help You Pick the Right Course. This Week: Politics and International Studies. Contributors: Keymer, Tamsin - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: November 3, 2000. Page number: 4. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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