Sponsored feature, words by Russ Thorne

Choosing your degree subject and the place you'd like to study is an exciting, challenging process. If you're thinking about a subject like Economics & Politics, you'll be spending your student life investigating the mechanics of our systems of government: the processes that really do make the world go round. You might investigate the effect civil unrest can have on the global markets, for example. Or questions like: what are the economic and political factors influencing the debate on climate change? What actually is the West Lothian question? But before you ponder those, here are a few essentials to be aware of about studying Economics & Politics…

You'll get plenty of variety

Unfortunately, although watching 'House of Cards' on Netflix is never a waste of time, it probably won't appear on your syllabus (however great Kevin Spacey is). However, your course is likely to cover a range of subjects including political science, macroeconomics and modern political thought. New College of the Humanities has just introduced a BSc in Economics & Politics: click here to see examples of the kinds of things you might study, and to see if they appeal.

What about entry requirements? It varies between unis, but you'll often need a good grounding in maths (not necessarily at A Level) and a strong personal statement explaining your interest in the subject. Our social science forums can give you more insight into the world of studying Economics and Politics.

There's a choice of modules

Politics is a potentially divisive area so it probably won't surprise you to learn that there's no one accepted way to structure a course. (Although unis tend not to sit on green benches yelling at each other about it all. Well, not often.)

Some institutions will offer a three year programme that focuses on economics / and politics modules (perhaps with additional modules from other subject areas to choose from in your final year); ideal if you want to concentrate on those areas and get into the nitty gritty.

Others, such as New College of the Humanities, offer an alternative path to your degree that builds in other subjects alongside economics and politics. NCH students on the new Economics & Politics BSc (which has academic direction from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences) will also choose from liberal arts modules including Art History, English, History, Law or Philosophy. They'll also study core modules in Applied Ethics, Logic & Critical Thinking, Science Literacy and the NCH professional development programme.

It's closely related to PPE

If you're researching Economics and Politics you might also want to investigate Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) programmes. This will add another angle of inquiry to your studies, boosting your critical thinking and analytical skills with modules looking at ethics and modern philosophy.

The degree is available at many unis, and NCH has a competitive PPE programme – it's another new offering this year and follows their liberal arts-inspired curriculum.

Alongside Economics & Politics, PPE is useful for anyone thinking about a governmental career; graduates also pop up in senior media positions, as journalists, broadcasters and editors.

Oxford isn't the only option

You'll often hear Oxford colleges linked with Economics & Politics or PPE degrees, and they do indeed traditionally have strong links with the subjects. However, like any uni, the institution isn't for everyone, so you don't have to think of 'traditional' courses first; programmes offered elsewhere might be the ideal first choice.

For example, you might like the idea of a compact student cohort and one-to-one tuition, which collegiate unis like Oxford offer, but you might want a more varied syllabus or a more metropolitan location. In which case, an independent city-based institution like London's NCH, that specialises in small tuition groups and one-to-one interaction with tutors, could be ideal.

It's not too late for September entry

Finally, if you're coming late to the idea of studying Economics & Politics and are concerned about deadlines, fear not: you can still submit the forms to some institutions before the Division Bell for applications rings. If you apply to an independent institution, like NCH, you can do so in addition to your five UCAS choices. They operate a rolling admissions process so you can apply now for September entry and be on your way towards a deeper understanding of the mechanics and mystery of the political world by the end of the year. Actually, maybe a 'House of Cards' binge isn't such a bad idea after all...