Last month, I worked at both of the Warwick open days on the Politics and International Studies information stand. I was thrilled by the enthusiasm and interest of all the prospective students who came along with their many questions about "Why Warwick?", "What’s it really like?" and "Why PAIS?". It really brought back memories from three years ago when it was me trailing up and down the country trying to find the university and the course that was right for me. I loved answering the many questions and sharing my own personal experiences and advice, so I thought it would be a fantastic way to kick off my blog by exploring some of the topics that were most frequently brought up at the open days!
"Why study Politics?"
Thinking back to when I was doing my A levels, I was very much torn as to what I wanted to study at university. English Literature and Politics were undoubtedly my favourite subjects, but I had also taken an interest in pursuing a career in journalism. So, it was no easy choice deciding to study Politics and International Studies, but I couldn’t be happier that it was the choice I ended up making. In the end, it came down to the realisation that all of my interest areas at the time were intrinsically political; such as feminism and women’s rights, or the anti-migration and refugee discourse dictating the media, or all of the issues surrounding Brexit that I was desperately trying to wrap my head around at the time. Having now spent over two full years studying PAIS, I can honestly say that I could not recommend it more. I had never realised previously the extent to which I was fascinated by International Relations, and as cliche as it sounds, it has made me see the world in a completely different way. From exploring how security issues are constructed, to migration and terrorism and theories of postcolonialism and feminism, my eyes have been opened and my worldview transformed.
"Why study Politics at Warwick?"
In my quest to find the perfect university for me, I trailed up and down the country, visiting around 10 universities before I came to the conclusion that I wanted Warwick to be my firm choice. It’s hard to put into words why I chose Warwick, other than that I just got an immediate feeling when I was at the open day and offer holder day that it was the place for me. Beyond the impressive league tables and employment statistics, it was also the welcoming atmosphere and friendly environment that convinced me that I wanted to study at Warwick and that it was it was the sort of place I would like to call home for the next three years. For me, I could also see that Warwick’s PAIS department was remarkably developed and clearly a passionate and inspiring environment to be immersed in. The vast variety of modules really caught my attention, and the passion from those giving the talks made up my mind for me.
"Have you had much choice over your modules?"
In my personal experience, I have had the opportunity to tailor my degree to my interests throughout the years that I have been studying PAIS. For instance, I am now in my final year and have had the opportunity to choose 75% of what I am studying (or, 90 CATS). Whilst the ‘Issues in Political Theory’ module was compulsory, I have had the chance to opt for modules such as ‘Critical Security Studies’, ‘Introduction to Social Analytics’ and ‘Introduction to Qualitative Methods’, as well as deciding that I wanted to undertake a dissertation (which was optional!). This has been unequivocally useful as I have been able to tailor my degree to the career route that I would like to pursue following graduation. Similarly, in my second year, I had the opportunity to choose modules in areas such as International Relations, European Integration and Gender and the Law. What I have thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed, has been the opportunity to take external modules from outside department, and this is something I did both in second year with the ‘Gender and the Law module’, as well as a module on ‘Understanding Social Inequalities’ in my first year.
"How are you assessed?"
Of course, this varies year on year and between differing modules, however I have had an extraordinary amount of choice over how I have been assessed. I have personally found that I perform to a much higher standard in exams than in assessed essays or coursework, so it has always been my priority to opt for exam-assessed options where possible. Throughout my degree, particularly after progression from my first year, I have had the opportunity to choose exam-based assessment, with some of my modules offering a choice of assessment between 100% exam, 100% assessed essay or 50% of each. While I tend to sway towards the exams, I know many people who have avoided exams at all costs because they feel they perform better in assessed essays, and have consequentially had no exams in their final year.
"What do you want to do after you graduate?"
As a third and final year student (daunting, I know), I have reached the dreaded point whereby I have had to come to some sort of decision regarding what I want to do post-university. Personally, I have decided to take a year out following university to travel and, during that time, also apply for graduate schemes such as the Civil Service.
"Have you enjoyed your time at Warwick?"
Without hesitation, I would tell anyone that asked that I have loved my time at Warwick and am trying my very best to make the most of my final year at the moment. Studying PAIS has provided me with a completely new worldview and over the years I have come to learn more about myself, my interest areas and what I want to do in the future. Outside of the course, I have had some of the most incredible times at Warwick. Some of my favourite ever memories were made in the halls of Rootes in my first year, and I have had countless more since then, as well as undoubtedly gaining friends for life.
I hope that this has answered some of your potential questions and given you an insight into my personal experience at Warwick so far, please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or questions at all!