- Careers & Employability
- Politics and International Studies
- Preparing for University
Answering your questions from the (virtual) open day!
Firstly, I hope you’re all doing well during these difficult times, and that you’re all keeping safe; and if you ever need anyone to have a quick chat to, whether that be about any stresses surrounding school or University or anything else, I’m always here to talk to 🙂
So, moving onto the topic of this weeks blog, last week I got the opportunity to speak to some of you during the virtual open day as I was part of one of the live chats for the PAIS department. It was really lovely getting to chat to people who are considering Warwick as their choice for University, and there were definitely some really interesting questions. So, I thought i’d talk about a few of them on here, as they’re definitely things that I would have wanted to know before choosing which University I wanted to go to!
1) Did I study Politics A level, and would it be a disadvantage if you didn’t?
I thought this was a really good question, and I think there’s probably a real variation of people who did or didn’t take politics as an A level before studying PAIS. Personally, I did take politics A level, and that’s actually the main reason I decided to do Politics at university, I might never have considered it otherwise. It definitely got me more interested in politics and gave me a little bit more of a basic knowledge, as we studied things such as political parties, electoral systems and American politics. But, I definitely do not think (at all) that anyone who didn’t study politics at A level would be at a disadvantage. Firstly, I think the most important thing you can do is just keep up to date with the news and everything going on in the world. And, if there’s any areas you’re particularly interested in then you can always take your own time to research them; I was really interested in women in politics when I was in sixth form, so I always found myself reading a lot about, and I ended up doing my EPQ (extended project qualification) on it, so that could also be a good alternative if your school offers it. But, you really don’t need to do anything other than just have an interest in politics and a willingness to learn. One of the main reasons not to worry is that your first year will include a lot of the basics. For me, we had a module called ‘Introduction to Politics’ and that definitely went through a lot of the basic knowledge and you were introduced to some of the readings you could do, and all of the other first year modules are definitely more introductory. So, there’s definitely no need to worry about being out of your depth. Loads of schools also don’t offer politics as an A level, I know where I was from, I was at one of the only schools that happened to do it, so I imagine a lot of people studying it at university have never studied it before! Also – a lot of your other subjects might include political themes without you realising, so you’ve probably done more than you think. I studied English literature, history and Philosophy & ethics as A levels and I found each and every one of them built upon my political knowledge, so you definitely don’t have to be studying politics itself.
2) What’s your favourite aspect of the PAIS department?
I think the PAIS department genuinely has such a friendly, comfortable feel about it, but it also always feels so intellectually stimulating at the same time because you’re surrounded by so many people who are interested in and passionate about politics. I’d also say that the broad selection of modules you get is probably one of the things I like best, and was one of the things that swayed me towards Warwick when I was deciding. I really appreciate the fact that there are so many routes you can go down, and that you get so much opportunity to study what you’re actually interested in. For me, in my second year, I realised I was really interested in the more international relations side of the course, particularly security studies, so it was great to really be able to pursue that interest area within my module choices. Finally, I think one of my favourite aspects is how much they care about you and how well you do through your assessments. In most of the modules I’ve done, I’ve had some sort of a say over whether I get to be assessed through 100% exam, 100% coursework or 50/50, and this has definitely helped me to perform the best that I can. It means whatever suits you, you will get the chance to do it in that way.
3) What accommodation did you stay in? Do you have any personal opinions/preferences?
This will always be my favourite question to be asked at an open day. I lived in Rootes accommodation in my first year and I genuinely couldn’t have had a better time than I did; I had the best time with the best people and I still reminisce on how incredible it was even now. I won’t say too much, because I think I’m going to do a full blog post about my accommodation experience and thoughts over the coming months, but I can definitely say that my experience living in Rootes was an incredibly positive one. But, I do also remember getting to write a short paragraph about myself when I was applying for accommodation, with the idea that they could match you up with people you would be more suited to living with, which I think probably really helps.
4) Is there any reading you would recommend doing before coming to University?
Again, I think the most important thing is just staying up to date with the news and what’s going on. I wouldn’t say that there were any particular readings that you 100% have to look at before coming to uni, I’d say to just read around the areas that you’re interested in. If you’re interested in security or gender or terrorism, or more domestic politics, then read about that! You’ll get introduced to tonnes of readings when you get here, so for the time being just read about what you’re personally interested in, as the chances are that that’ll be the area you spend more time on while you’re at uni. And, if there’s anything you feel you should or want to know about that you don’t, just have a little bit of a research. But, definitely don’t stress about needing to do any of this, as you’ll be introduced to it all once you’ve started. (I was speaking to someone who was particularly interested in gender studies & I’d definitely recommend having a look at the work of Cynthia Enloe if you are).
5) How is the student/staff relationship in PAIS?
I’ve always found the relationship to be great, especially working as a PAIS ambassador as that means I sometimes get a little bit more time getting to know some of the department. But, I think you really start not to think so much of them as ‘staff’, especially in your seminars and when you’re discussing ideas, as they’re just as interested in what you have to say as you are in what they’re speaking about. They definitely treat you like an equal, and they want you to come to them if you have any problems with anything, they always have drop-in hours & regularly check their emails if you need anything.
6) What are you thinking of doing after University?
At the moment, it’s a little all up in the air due to everything going on at the moment. But whenever the time comes that I can, I’m planning on doing quite a bit of travel and working abroad over the next year or two before applying to any graduate jobs or schemes. This summer, I was supposed to be working at an NGO in Vietnam, which I will hopefully still be able to do at a later time, and I was then just planning to carry on from there (potentially going through Vietnam to Cambodia, Japan, South Korea and India). I’m also interested in doing one of the ICS programmes, potentially doing one which revolves around sexual health education, and also travelling around south America. I’m also thinking I’d love to spend a year or so teaching English abroad (TEFL), as I’ve seen quite a few graduate roles like this, in somewhere like China/Vietnam/Thailand, but we’ll see! In the long run, I’m quite set on applying for the Civil Service fast stream at the moment.
7) Is there a way to get to know people before coming to University?
In my year, there were definitely some Facebook groups and pages for freshers and prospective students, so that’s worth having a look at, and then from there you can often get into group chats with people who are maybe looking at doing the same course or staying in the same accommodation. For the most part, when you arrive no one will really know each-other at all and that’s quite exciting as everyone’s in the same boat, but I’m also still really close with a girl who I spoke to before even coming to University, which is lovely.
Thank you for reading, I hope you found it helpful. If you have any other questions at all, feel free to comment below or drop me a message!