- Student Support & Wellbeing
- Campus Life
- Careers & Employability
- Politics and International Studies
- Preparing for University
First year PAIS modules
With term 3 fast approaching, I will soon be deciding my second-year modules – how time flies!
I thought it may be helpful to write about my first-year modules, and how I have found/am finding them so far. I haven’t been given any guidance in writing this – and so can assure you it is all my real opinion. I will try to include some advantages/disadvantages of each module to make it as helpful as possible.
Just to clarify, in the first year the Politics and PAIS modules are exactly the same – there is no difference whatsoever.
Core modules: (30 CATS)
These modules are taken during term 1 and 2, along with lectures/seminars also taking place during term 3
Political Research in the 21st Century
This module is all about the skills you need to undertake research. During our first lecture, we were told that the focus is us “becoming a 21st-century political researcher” – and I do feel it has achieved its aim! The module itself is fairly broad; covering different issues on social media, film, media, music, popular culture and the internet. My favourite lecture was “Researching Voting Behaviour” since it linked very well to the 2015 General Election, and therefore very current to study. I also enjoyed the “Ethical Problems in Political Research” lecture where we looked at whether Facebook manipulating the news feed of its users is justified, or ethical.
- Lots of fab videos! We have watched a video a clip from the TV show Friends! This really helps in keeping students engaged, especially because the lecture takes place on a Thursday, a day after POP… (Note: the timetable changes every year)
- 100% assessed coursework. This helps in reducing the stress come exam time. You will hand in two essays and one project report over the academic year, and the two highest marks will count towards your overall module grade. This gives you the opportunity to try out a different essay technique or take on a less common method of answering the question since your weakest grade is discarded.
- The final lectures during term 3 focus on the project report (which is due shortly after), where you will also be busy revising for exams. It may be challenging having to balance your time between both the report (which is 3,000 words) and exam revision. Good time management is key!
Introduction to Politics
As the title suggests, this module is an introduction to politics. All the topics are designed to cover the foundations of various issues within politics. The first lecture was quite simply titled “What is ‘politics’?” (Which is a much more complex than it may seem), where we studied the different definitions and perspectives of politics, which is key to every essay. I found the “Parties and Voting” and “Pressure groups and the media” lectures most interesting since they were very relevant to key debates occurring today. Overall, I am really enjoying this module!
- This module is really useful if you haven’t studied politics at all previously since it will most certainly put you on the same level as everybody else by the end of the year. Despite this, even if you have studied it (as I did for my A level), you will learn a lot from the module as you will be covering the topics in much more depth.
- You had in two formative (Non-assessed) essays and will receive written feedback. This can be really useful to know how to improve.
- If you are somebody who hates exams, unfortunately, this module is assessed via a one, 3-hour exam. However, I wouldn’t worry too much about this as there is so much help provided by the PAIS department in what the examiners are looking for.
This module covers issues faced at a global level; for instance, the Cold War, globalisation and the global financial crisis. You will also study various theories such as Realism, Marxism and Liberalism. I gave a seminar presentation on “The Political Economy of Development”, where I focused on the Millennium Development Goals.
- Very rewarding! You cover so many varied topics which are applicable to all of the other modules too.
- My seminar tutor for this module is fab *Shout out to Chris Rossdale*, and really does make the module engaging. I am sure all of the other tutors are great too!
- Same as the Introduction to Politics module, since the formative essays do not count towards your overall grade, I decided to answer the essay I thought was most difficult in order to receive feedback on something I knew was challenging, and actually force myself to research a topic I would probably otherwise procrastinate on. I found this really useful: I achieved a 2.1, and the written feedback was very helpful so overall I am pleased with the existence of the formative essays!
- The lectures are not recorded. There is something called “Fireside Chat”, which are recorded by the lecturer, but they are about 15 minutes long, and a discussion on the lecture, rather than the lecture itself. This is probably the module where I would most like to listen to the lectures again because of how challenging it is. Also, since the lecture room is so big, it is very easy to miss a lot of what is said if you aren’t sitting in the front, and the fireside chats do not go into enough detail to correct this.
Optional modules: (15 CATS)
These modules are taken during one term and assessed via coursework which accounts for 100% of your overall grade for the module
Foundations of Political Economy
I chose this module because I loved studying Economics at A level, and wanted to carry this on during my degree, especially since the two disciplines interlink very well! I know many students were concerned about the module being too mathematical, but it really isn’t – you are expected to study topics within economics, but it is very manageable.
- It is a nice change from the other modules since although there are a lot of similarities within Economics and Politics, it is nice to study topics from a different perspective.
- Unlike the other essays where you write one large in-depth essay, for this module you are assessed through 5 shorter essays. I thought this would be difficult at first since I am used to writing long essays, but this was not a problem at all for my formative essays. If anything, it is nice to be able to cover a range of topics and be assessed on that.
I have literally spent the last 5 minutes trying to think of a disadvantage, and honestly cannot – this module has definitely exceeded expectations, and I highly recommend it to anybody!
Justice, Democracy and Citizenship
This feels like such a long time ago since it was during term 1…
As the title suggests, the module is split into 3 parts, each delivered by a different lecturer. My favourite was the democracy lectures since they raised a lot of good discussions during the seminars which were very insightful. I ended up choosing the justice topic for my formative and summative essay questions (on the existence of private schools).
- As mentioned above, having three different lecturers was beneficial since they all had different ways of teaching (for instance, the democracy lecturer took a much more informal approach and encouraged discussions during the lecture itself).
- The essay is assessed through one 2,500 word essay which is worth 100% of your overall mark. This was due during term 2, with the formative essay due during term 1. I found this very useful since I went from a 2.1 in my formative, and used that feedback to improve my summative essay and achieved a first.
- Although 3 different lecturers were hugely beneficial, it was at times confusing since it made it difficult to directly see the links between the three topics.
Overall, I am pleased with the first year modules! The department is also very good at listening to (and actually doing something) about student feedback, so I wouldn’t worry at all!
Shanita 🙂 xo