Decisions, Decisions: A PPE guide to first year module choices
Moving onto university entails a set of responsibilities you’ll have to take on, and your academic obligations are for sure part of them. As a PPE first year student you’ll have three main decisions to make for your upcoming academic year: you’ll be asked to select 30 CATS worth of optional modules, and choose between two difficulty levels in the subjects of Maths and Statistics. Since this can get a little confusing let’s proceed with order.
When choosing your optional module(s) for your first PPE academic year you’ll have a wide range of options: firstly you’ll have to decide whether to enrol in one 30 CAT module spanning both the Autumn and the Spring terms or chose two 15 CAT modules which will run for one term solely. While it is possible to sign on to two 15 CAT modules in the same term, it is generally recommended to avoid doing so to avoid any specific months being too loaded.
The optional module(s) may be taken from any department of the university, as long as you have checked with their department as well as yours before signing on. Many chose to take another module from one of your three main subjects, but you don’t have to limit yourself if you’d like to branch out. You could study a language though the university’s language centre which will allocate you according to your proficiency, or you can try and enrol in those widely requested Warwick Business School modules if your mouse skills are quick enough.
The two main things to remember concerning module registration are: check if you are actually allowed to enrol in the module you’d like to take, and make sure you know the module registration dates to avoid disappointment when said module fills up. My personal advice is to take this as an opportunity to explore topics and issues you are particularly interested in. By doing so you’ll ensure a minimum level of effort going into studying for the module, and more importantly you’ll understand whether the subject is a topic you’ll want to continue studying in your upcoming university years.
Now let’s turn our gaze onto the choices concerning your Mathematics and Statistics modules. You’ll be confronted with choosing between two levels: Maths A or B and Stats A or B. You can choose any combination of the two depending on your strengths and interests: for example I took Maths A and Stats B. Counterintuitively the ‘A’ module is the easier of the two: if you’ve dropped Maths at A levels, or took Maths studies at IB or equivalent, Maths A is probably the right fit for you. Similarly if you believe you’re not going to enjoy studying statistics Stats A may be best.
Having said this, let’s talk about the implication of your choices: whichever Maths module (either A or B) you chose will have no impact on your future studies. Instead choosing between Stats A or B will have consequences if you choose the BSc pathway in your second year. If you choose to take Stats A you will have to take ‘EC203: Applied Econometrics’ as your compulsory quantitative module. Instead if you pass your Stats B module you may choose between ‘EC203: Applied Econometrics’ and ‘EC226: Econometrics 1’ which requires a higher level of previous knowledge. Essentially this means you can still access a BSc if you take Stats A, but you won’t be able to study Econometrics at a higher level.
So how should you approach this choice? Up to you really: choosing Maths A as opposed to Maths B is a safer choice and might save you from a possible fail in your Stats module since the two are averaged together for your final mark. But it also may be extremely boring for those of you who have always studies maths and actively enjoy it, and you haven’t come to Uni to be bored during lectures (hopefully). Likewise Stats A may be a good compromise if you don’t feel very comfortable with Statistics and are comfortable with the idea of not being able to take Econometrics 1. However, if you’re planning on a more quantitative approach to your degree then you should keep Stats B in your mind so you’ll be able to access all the future options.
After all university is about making choices for your future, and first year gives you enough freedom to do so without having too much pressure put on the decisions that you do make. Remember that talking to our student ambassadors, module directors and PPE department staff is always a good idea. And keep in mind that whatever module choice you make you won’t be finalised until beginning of week 4 of the term it starts on. So good luck freshers, you got this!