Advice for future PAIS students
It’s time for my fortnightly Coventry weather update!
The sun is shining here in the West Midlands. Pollen has flooded the air… and I’m suffering quite badly as a result! Though, as a consolation prize, the European Championship has begun – so it isn’t all bad.
Today’s blog is specifically for future PAIS students – although many of the tips included will be applicable for other departments, too.
I hasten to add that the advice included in this blog is strictly based on my personal experiences at Warwick – though I hope today’s piece is helpful nonetheless.
1) Don’t buy textbooks
Since arriving at Warwick in 2018, I have purchased one course-related book (it was for my dissertation). You might be wondering: ‘Why? Surely you need to have certain books to hand?’
Well, not quite.
Although owning your course’s textbooks will be helpful – I’ve never struggled to get a copy of any of the core readings from the University’s library. The PAIS department spends thousands of pounds per year on new books (both physical and electronic) based on guidance from current students.
Moreover, the University has (literally) over a million library resources. That’s books, journal articles, so on, and so forth. That includes physical content and electronic versions – the latter of which I tend to rely on.
So, you don’t necessarily need to buy textbooks – Warwick has you covered.
However, if you want to buy textbooks – I recommend you have a search for pre-owned copies. Buying a second/third/fourth-hand book is much, much cheaper than securing a fresh copy – which means you can spend more money on important things… like takeaways.
2) Do the reading (at least the core ones)
We’ve all been there.
You arrive at a seminar having enjoyed the lecture and completed the reading. This means you’re probably looking forwards to the seminar discussion… only for the rest of the class to have skipped the reading.
I won’t pretend to have completed the recommended reading list every week (I often don’t during essay-writing season). However, it makes the seminar so much more worthwhile when you have something (anything!) to say on the topic.
Even if you’re only able to read a portion of one of the core texts, it’ll be worth it!
3) Make the most of advice and feedback hours
Each week, there will be an hour (or maybe two) when your seminar tutors and lecturers are available to speak to one-to-one. At the moment, advice and feedback hours take place over Microsoft Teams – pre-pandemic they were held online.
These sessions are really useful – I’ve found them more helpful than seminars.
Why? Well, because you can ask questions that you otherwise wouldn’t in a group setting. You can talk about past essays; you can talk about your personal exam preparation.
Advice and feedback hours are voluntary – but I certainly recommend giving them a try from time to time.
(On average, I use advice and feedback sessions once per term for each module.)
4) Pick modules you’ll enjoy not ‘easy ones’
Firstly, let me bust a myth. There aren’t ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ modules at university.
Some modules might be more technical than others (for example, I’ve found studying the EU requires you to get into very fine details) – but every class at Warwick is graded to the same standard.
With that in mind, make sure you pick modules that you’ll enjoy.
If you’re not interested in EU Policy-Making, you will find reading about it exceptionally dull.
Just as I wouldn’t choose to watch Love Island – you probably shouldn’t pick a module you’re not particularly interested in.
There is lots on offer in PAIS (including modules from other departments), I’m sure you’ll find the right modules for you!
That’s all for today – let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to write about next month!