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A degree in Politics...

(20 Posts)
PiscesLondon Sun 27-Jan-13 21:27:10


I posted a thread last week asking for advice relating to university & courses, so many posters replied and were so helpful. I'm looking into every suggestion but I still have no clue as to what it is I'll end up doing, I need to take my time and not rush into anything, so there'll probably be a fair few of these threads in the coming months!

Had a good discussion with my mum today, trying to decipher what I thought I wanted to study. My mum suggested politics, as it's something I'm very passionate about and enjoy discussing/reading up on etc...

Before I look into it properly, has anyone got a degree in politics? What could it lead to? My mum said I'd make an excellent MP due to being a trained actress blush grin

Is it a really boring degree?! As I say, I'm passionate about politics, especially since the Tories were voted in (strongly dislike them) but is being passionate about it enough?

iworemyfringelikerogermcguinns Sun 27-Jan-13 23:18:27

I have a degree in politics. I won't say which university but when I was there the department was excellent (not oxbridge / LSE). Careers - a lot of my former classmates went into journalism / the media (now BBC correspondents, etc), the civil service and charities. Not right away obv but through graduate trainee programmes, postgrad study and it was much easier to get into such work when I graduated. Some of us ended up in dead-end jobs because it's not the most practical degree, let's face it. Hardly anyone went into politics; it was mainly the lawyers and those doing political economy / economics who did .

I'd look at what you'd actually study on uni websites as it might not be what you'd expect. eg comparative political systems = different frameworks of power, liberal democratic (or not) systems, elections and voter behaviour, etc. You'd also perhaps do international relations, public policy, and the history of political thought, eg Marx, Hegel, Locke, Plato. Courses will differ in focus so eg the LSE does a lot more on public or economic policy than the programme I did. So check that what you're interested in is what you'd study. Would you be better off doing philosophy, sociology, law or economics (for example) as you're interested in these aspects of the general term "politics"

I'm with your mum in that it makes a massive difference to study something that you love. I didn't do very well in pol.philosophy (this eventually made the difference between a first and a 2:1) because I was bored out of my mind. The reading load was very high and the course involved a lot of critical thinking, seminars and essay writing, if that interests you.

Hope that helps smile

boomting Mon 28-Jan-13 02:43:26

I'm a current politics student, precisely half way through my degree.

I agree with the poster above - have a look at what you will be learning on the websites of different universities. It's not a degree in current affairs - I don't think I've actually written the words Labour or Liberal Democrat in an essay or exam since I started my degree (unlike at A Level). You'll be spending a lot of time looking at the fundamentals that underpin the study of politics - theories that explain how things are and how they should be, some political history, studies of international power structures etc. etc. You may also have the opportunity to do modules that are outside politics - for instance, I've done modules in economics, law and criminology.

PiscesLondon Mon 28-Jan-13 09:34:57

Thanks for the replies.

Is it essential to do further study/postgrad study in order to enter a decent career?

So, you don't necessarily discuss & learn about the current political situation? A lot of it is history based?

I guess before I commit to anything, I'd need to know if it led to good prospects, I don't even think some MP's hold a degree in politics?

Levantine Mon 28-Jan-13 10:08:54

I did a politics degree, 20 years ago now. You do learn about contemporary politics but not until very late on in my course, there were options to take contemporary american politics, EU and some others I think.

My friends all did politics, history, english etc - no difference really in what we are doing for careers, most are journalists, work in charities, political consultancies or lobbying groups.

My impression is that now you do need a postgrad - all my younger colleagues do, but certainly you didn't when I graduated.

creamteas Mon 28-Jan-13 16:21:58

If you are interested in current political issues look for a focus on policy rather than politics. You might also want to look at social policy as a degree in its own right, or in combination with subjects like politics and sociology.

In general terms, the openings of graduates with politics degrees are the same as those with sociology and social policy too.

PiscesLondon Mon 28-Jan-13 22:11:59

It's just a big worry that I'm going to make the wrong choice yet again! The university has an open day in June that I'm going to, but I will probably need to go & do an access course, so I'll need to apply to college ASAP, so I think I need to make my mind up about which degree I want to do sooner rather than later.

With regards to UCAS points, I'm confused? It says the entry requirements for politics (and a few other courses) are a minimum of 300 UCAS points including 2 A levels or equivalent. Well firstly, I'm not sure if the qualifications I have hold any UCAS points, and secondly I have no A levels. Does this mean my only option to get into University Is via an access course?

creamteas Tue 29-Jan-13 19:17:16

If you live close to and know what you want to study, contact the admissions team and ask if you could shadow an existing student for the day. We often do this, and it can really help for applicants to get a feel for if it is the right choice to them. You could also ask for a meeting with the admissions tutor.

They will be the best people to advise you on what they are looking for in mature students. We usually want evidence of recent study, it this is not necessarily an access course.

PiscesLondon Tue 29-Jan-13 20:21:28

Thanks creamteas

I don't know what a degree in politics could lead to, but I'm hoping it's a fairly decent degree to have & could open doors in the future. I'm a trained Actress & I love public speaking, very at ease speaking in front of others etc.. So I'm hoping that might help open some doors combined?

IDontKnowWhereMyMedalsAre Tue 05-Feb-13 18:55:24

Cream teas any chance you could tell more about social policy please. Ds currently yr 12 was thinking of politics bu has now moved on to social policy and has a not so short list of 10 unis. I've read the course modules for each uni and he seems to have whittled out those that offer less political social policy. However I am forbidden to make any comment as he construes it as me pushing my agenda. Sigh. I'm just interested in the finer detail and anything really, I don't know anyone who has studied or even knows about social policy.

Apologies for hijack and good luck Pisces with your decision.

HenriettaChicken Tue 05-Feb-13 19:05:17

If you're interested in politics apply for a course you find interesting, in whatever field - as long as it's slightly academically rigorous (politics/American studies/sociology etc) and then get involved in your student union, student council etc. If you're party political join the uni party. If you're interested in journalism get involved in the uni paper. From my experience at uni people that did these extra curricular things found it far easier to get decent job opps after graduation, even if (like me) they only got a 2:2.

Dededum Tue 05-Feb-13 19:12:47

Another politics & modern history degree from 20 years ago.

I became a lawyer, after conversion course.

Other ideas for careers - international opportunities (UN, EC), charities, civil service.

UnnamedFemaleProtagonist Tue 05-Feb-13 19:21:30

I'm doing English Lit but I was accepted with only one (English) A level and 3 GCSE's on the basis of my passionate interview. I would advise you asking the academics directly whether you would need to do the access course.
I highly recommend English Lit wink

deleted203 Wed 06-Feb-13 22:33:59

I have a joint History and Politics degree and enjoyed it very much. I then did a PGCE and have taught History for 20 odd years, (and occasionally some A level Politics). I found the politics interesting and reasonably easy, as the ability to argue one's point was required (and I can argue with anybody grin). It's certainly not a boring degree.

givemeaclue Thu 07-Feb-13 09:53:23

Most mps don't study politics at uni!!!

BordersMummy Mon 01-Apr-13 23:59:21

A fair amount of the hierarchy did PPE at Oxford though - I think it is the most highly represented degree in the cabinet/shadow cabinet.

I did a politics degree 15 years ago. Enjoyed it a lot. There was certainly a lot of more philosophical/historical stuff, but I also had the immense fun of studying American politics (largely historical - basis for the constitution, all the amendments etc) with an exceedingly passionate and knowledgeable professor, during the Bush/Gore debacle and subsequent Supreme Court case. It was fascinating and a wonderful demonstration of how all the principles stuff (the US paper was primarily about the division between legislature/executive/judiciary) was totally relevant to the present.

Career wise - I ended up in the city in a relatively unrelated position on the face of it, although in latter years my job became more and more externally focused and the skils I learned in my degree have been absolutely relevant. I am also a current affairs bore which I'm sure my friends love!

Other careers: several in civil service, some in government affairs/lobbying type roles, several in charities, a number of journalists, lawyers, accountants, teachers. No cabinet ministers yet! One local councillor that i know of!

CandlestickOlder Tue 02-Apr-13 01:28:55

Being an actress and having a degree in politics will not give you a political career. You do actually have to have an interest in politics to be an mp! And many years of being involved in party politics, campaigning, door knocking, etc and preferably a private school background, an Oxbridge degree and brilliant connections.

A political degree would be interesting but the thing to get you a job will be experience.

I recruit regularly and I could not care less if someone has a degree if they do not have relevant work experience. Your confidence and being good at public speaking will help at interview, so that's good.

In fact, I'd save yourself a shit load of debt and not bother unless you're going to go into medicine or law or something that actually really needs a degree.

CandlestickOlder Tue 02-Apr-13 01:35:33

(But politics degree is uber interesting if you like that kind of thing)

WMDinthekitchen Sun 07-Apr-13 07:03:22

To be a member of any UK Parliament you need to be selected for a constituency or high enough on a party list and persuade enough people to vote for you.

The biographies of MPs/MSPs/MLAs/MAs are extremely varied - teaching, social work, the law, business, unions, journalism, medicine etc etc There are, however, increasing numbers of candidates who stand for election after having worked as researchers or case workers to politicians. Voters tend to like candidates to have experience in another RL career or job first. There are exceptions of course, especially with the PR system used in Scotland.

Guess it might have been a tongue in cheek remark from your mother, but too good an ability to act can be a distinct disadvantage in a politician if he/she is found out.

Goog luck!!

TheSecondComing Sun 07-Apr-13 07:20:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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