Postgraudate studies in international politics Watch

mauritius
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#21
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#21
(Original post by yeung3939)
My major concern is whether I should stick to the general reputation of the university. I really do not know whether purely for the purpose of academic career, I should choose a well-known department instead of a fairly good department of a well-known university.

I think I somehow 'underestimate' my 'market value'. I should have at least tried to apply to Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield......

Thank you.
I will be very honest about my perspective. The reputation of the university will be very important; First of all, smaller universities may often be less professional than the well established ones. However, I personally consider Birminghamm and Manchester as quite well established universities. Look for the special league tables for political studies in the Times or Guardian League tables to see where they are. Furthermore, for you, being from Hong Kong, it is double important. I see in my own university that there is something like "overseas student picking" - and many universities have a reputation to fill their courses, particuarly business and management by the way, with overseas students. I know from some Asian friends that they have encountered some prejudice because of this - so do chose your university careful.

At the same time, reputation is relative. For example, for my field, Middle Eastern Studies, Birmingham is currently the best place to go. The department is considered better than that of Oxford. There are no clear-cut lines, only general guidelines. I personally would rule out universities such as Aby... SOAS is clearly the best option and you can be sure to graduate from there with a degree that tells something about itself. But also Manchester, Birmingham, many of the big cities universities have quite some reputation. I would furthermore opt for a city university, not for a provincial one. As an international student you want to have possibilities for socialising and not sit in a small village in the middle of nowhere. Also pay attention to support facilities; e.g. my university has an International Office which actually does something for intern'l students (rather than just advertising for them), a councelling service, something called NightLine (where you can call free byy night to talk when you feel unhappy, homesick, etc.), a health centre on campus and many other things. These are real factors which can help you make your stay a good one - no reputation helps you if you are so unhappy with the place that you end up breaking up your studies.
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yeung3939
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#22
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Sorry... Perhaps because my English is not good enough, I cannot really understand what your first paragraph actually means...... It is my fault.

Thank you, Mauritius!

Did you mean that many international students consider the overall reputation of the universities as the most important factor?

Thanks a lot.
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mauritius
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#23
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It means that some universities try to attract overseas students because they pay more tuition fees, without actually offering the right environment, academics, etc. Everyuniversity will try to convince you that it is the greatest place for you, because you mean money for them. If you already go abroad, go to a good university, and to once which provides you with a friendly and supportive environment. As mentioned before, reputation is relative, do look at each university and its ranking in the league tables for your subject. Also, if you want to go for a potsgraduate degree, look at the department, the lecturers, possibly contact them individually, in order to find out what they are specialised in. I would not go to a small village or a very unknown university. SOAS is certainly the one with the best reputation from the ones you listed and if you can afford London I would personally go for SOAS.
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threeportdrift
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#24
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IMHO it is simply a matter of whom you are trying to impress after your degree (in whatever line of work/academia).

For people in the know, all 3 IR/Pol departments are in the top echelons, but at present, Aberystwyth has the better list of 'top names' and is right at the top of the IR league table (which doesn't exist). Aber is likely to impress those 'in the know' most.

On the other hand, if you are trying to impress a more general audience, then of the 3, SOAS probably has the best known reputation, albeit none of them are really in the general 'top uni league table' (which again, doesn't really exist at post grad level).

Alternatively, if you really know what detailed aspect of IR/Politics you wish to engage in, then all bets are off, because you might find the ideal supervisor at Essex, SOAS, Aber, Bradford, Lancaster, Cambridge, Oxford etc and that should then focus your priorities.

Then finally, as someone suggested, you can overcome all these prejudices about the 'best' university by producing excellent research, well received papers etc and getting good grades that will make you appealling to any academic or commercial employer.
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geoffc
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#25
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well said, threeportdrift. i completely agree.
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mauritius
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#26
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These league tables, however, are not entirely true indicators. Adepartment may fall into the category "very good" one year, but 6 years later this is different. In the case of the RAE tables this means the tables are useless at the moment.
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yeung3939
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#27
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#27
Very insightful!

You know, it is very difficult to find similar combination in other parts of the world. I don't know why. :confused:

Prestigious department in a not so prestigious university?!

Thank you. Really thanks.
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