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    Hi

    I think that this course at UCL is going to be my target, I was just wondering if anybody had any info on it. Has anybody got an offer, if so, what is it? Also, what are the pros and cons of the uni and the course.

    thanks in advance
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    bump (I'm interested in this too)
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    Hi everybody ! I have an offer but as I am an EU student I didn't take A levels so it isn't necessarly relevant, the requirements are kind of drastic (for example,they asked for a maximum mark at Math and very high grades at the others,for UK I think it's AAA*).I had to go to an interview and take the Thinking skills assement-which wasn't that simple ,there are many applicants due to the fact that the course is really brilliant ,it has it all.When I went to the interview I met great people from all over the World ,the course attracts many different individuals because it is so diverse.As an advice I would say go for it (I can't wait to go there in September ), write a very good personal statement,try the samples available for the thinking skills assesment ,be prepared to ask questions such as :Why this course?Why did you choose the language? Which is the subject you want to follow in depth(from IR,Law,Economics,Urban Planning,Politics,Philosophy,Geo graphy,Anthropology)?+ maybe questions from your ps.If you have any other questions feel free to ask.
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    to be asked*
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    Hi, I do Philosophy and Russian ESPS; my opinions aren't likely to be that representative of ESPS students in general. Nevertheless I will give them.

    Basically, other than the first year module which I will expound upon in a while, the course is an unusually flexible joint/combined honours course in the subjects that you end up choosing. This is an amazing thing. This year I've chosen a couple of ESPS modules - almost all of which are incredibly interesting and you get first dibs on - philosophy modules and one from the science and technology studies department which is relevant to my specialisation. Apart from a couple of uppity language departments AFAIK most humanities departments at UCL are really happy to have ESPS students so there's not much danger of a department rejecting you (which is good as for say History there is a lot of competition).

    The only thing I would say is a downside is that the relative time spent on language modules is small. I only do one cultural module a year for my language and I do feel like I'm not as "real" a language student as the other people in my class. However realistically this is made up for by the fact you spend an entire year in the country/ies of your specialism, so you wouldn't necessarily lose out materially on gaining a knowledge of the culture compared to other people (plus you don't just immerse yourself in literature and culture courses which can be a bit yawn after a while, and I think unnecessary to having a real understanding of the language or the culture).

    The first year course, despite being utterly contemptible from my view for a number of reasons, not all of them rational, does attract praise from some people. My friend found it helped him decide on his specialism for 2nd and 3rd year (which is its job), and its breadth does keep it fresh in a way. However I found it much too focused on politics at the expense of other, imo more interesting areas of the department (there's no Anthropology section but a Political Philosophy and an IR section as well as a Politics one; the Geography introduction is restricted to one lecture even though it's an interesting perspective from which to look at geopolitics [rather than IR] [[but that's just my opinion]]).

    That was my main beef with it apart from the fact I found it deathly boring, and that's my main beef with the culture of the course in general: I know it has Politics in the name but it's ridiculously Politics-centric; most of the cohort inevitably specialise in Politics (and usually of course French). I think the department could benefit a lot from forcing some diversification.
    In addition the course sections are so short that you don't end up going into a great deal of depth, or you go into wayyyyyy too much depth for three or four weeks of teaching (the History section was incredibly interesting but SO intense! Especially considering it was an introduction). Either way, I don't think you learn a great deal that is very useful.

    HOWEVER. The ESPS1001 module is only one teeny tiny module of a very long degree so I wouldn't let that put you off if I've made it sound awful. And besides most lectures are deathly boring so whatever. Oh and they're making the dissertation element compulsory again which I'm sure you know about. I was dismayed about this at first because who wants to have to write 10,000 words on god knows what? But then I realised that having it would be an advantage and you get to have a supervisor from the department (did I mention the staff were pretty awesome? Look out particularly for Tom Stern if you get here and Mark Hewitson the world's coolest German history specialist [yeah you thought that was Ian Kershaw huh?]. Philippe Marliere is like the most French guy on the UCL staff and Veronique Munoz-Darde is awesome too. Anyway.). So I voted myself back into a compulsory dissertation. Yeah.

    OK, the people that populate the course: it's unbelievably international, and almost everyone is incredibly intelligent, cultured, multilingual etc. I found this pretty intimidating at first, but I think it's one of the best things about ESPS because that sort of cosmopolitan atmosphere is exactly the kind of thing that people who want to do ESPS are attracted by. They like the billion different langauges and cultures of Europe and culture and debating politics and, well okay yeah some of us like drinking a lot. Like my year had a lot of French people, Austrian, Polish, Czech, German, Spanish, Norwegian, Irish and Italian people (definitely missed some out there)... It's seriously just like having the entirety of Europe in a lecture theatre.

    Finally, the admin is papery but well-executed and the staff are all AMAZING and really nice. It apparently generates incredible employment opportunities blah blah etc (although I doubt in the current labour market it is quite as employable as it makes out, although I have no doubt it's one of the most employable degrees of its kind there is), and though I haven't actually taken up any of the available support (I SERIOUSLY need to get round to it), I'm aware of there being a lot of careers help coming out of the department as well. But in the main I would recommend it because it's just a really damn nice place to be in and they are really damn nice people to be with.

    About the uni in general... I did find that being in ESPS made you in a bit of a limbo socially sometimes, although I doubt this experience was universal or necessary. Like because you don't have that many language modules, you don't really gel with the people from your language classes; same for your early specialisms and same for the ESPS people themselves. However by about halfway through the year I'd made some good friends in all of these places so I guess the time division can actually work to your advantage because you have so many areas of the uni where you have ready made pools of people to make friends with. Plus there's halls and societies so it's really not as big of a problem as I first thought it might be. And in second year you get the chance to make more friends and consolidate the ones you have so if you find that is the case for you, I wouldn't worry too much (although I do suggest making an effort and not immediately writing your course off as uppity weirdos like one or two people I know did :p:).

    I can't give much of a balanced opinion about uni social life because I was one of those sadsacks whose only social activities were drinking, drinking and drinking in a few settings dotted around Bloomsbury. I *do* however know that although yeah there is a quite prominent drinking culture at UCL especially in some of the more hardcore sports teams, it's not the be all and end all and a lot of people I know were involved in other stuff. The societies, especially around the arts and sports are fairly obviously incredible and although I think student politics is generally pretty insular and ridiculous it's not that bad here... The atmosphere in and around the uni is great. Relaxed and fun but also studious, we are all still a teeny bit nerdy after all. You're in London so yeah, expensive but you can still have cheap nights out at dodgy student holes (do not let anybody tell you Moonies is not amazing), and better places e.g. idk Proud aren't really gonna break your bank unless you want to go out every single night. Otherwise (i.e. if you're not an alcoholic) you also have five million free places to go as well if you're willing to bus or tube it soooooo.

    Hope that helped. Sounded like an advert at some points there.
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    ******* hell, bit of an epic post that.
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    First of all, thank you for your very honest assessment of ESPS. It's a very interesting read despite its length. I'd just like to add a few statements for the benefit of prospective students. I've graduated from ESPS in 2008 so was taking the degree during a period of restructuring and at the tail end of the expansion period. What is described below is indicative of how dynamic and adaptive the degree is.

    (Original post by littleshambles)
    The only thing I would say is a downside is that the relative time spent on language modules is small. I only do one cultural module a year for my language and I do feel like I'm not as "real" a language student as the other people in my class.
    Please note that the amount of contact hours in your language courses are very language-department specific, it is by no means uniform for all languages. For Russian, if this is taken at SSEES it has been well known that the language acquisition course is very very short and some other seminars run by SSEES are fortnightly rather than weekly. Conversely other departments such as Dutch will have "hidden" modules that add extra hours and seminars to the language acquisition and cultural modules so the language and cultural part for other languages can also be quite intense. This can lead to comparing and squabbling amongst ESPS colleagues on who received the raw deal on languages. The department also provides a rulebook of degree regulations, and these do have a habit of changing over the course of the year....this could mean that language courses can carry more weight on overall degree classification for one entering class and does run a risk of changing in another entering class. Just be aware of this, though it is a part of ESPS student-culture to do plenty of petitions and consultations with the staff to voice their concerns.

    Also, a danger for those taking ab-initio langauages, the protective nature of the Language Departments on their own seminar scheduling could signal the death of a first-year concentration (or language!). This isn't really a fault of ESPS but something that needs to be accepted in interdepartmental agreements that the other department will have the final word on how you move about. An example is having to switch a language because an economics-module has clashed with a language acquisition seminar that will not be moved.

    (Original post by littleshambles)
    The first year course, despite being utterly contemptible from my view for a number of reasons, not all of them rational, does attract praise from some people. My friend found it helped him decide on his specialism for 2nd and 3rd year (which is its job), and its breadth does keep it fresh in a way. However I found it much too focused on politics at the expense of other, imo more interesting areas of the department (there's no Anthropology section but a Political Philosophy and an IR section as well as a Politics one; the Geography introduction is restricted to one lecture even though it's an interesting perspective from which to look at geopolitics [rather than IR] [[but that's just my opinion]]).

    That was my main beef with it apart from the fact I found it deathly boring, and that's my main beef with the culture of the course in general: I know it has Politics in the name but it's ridiculously Politics-centric; most of the cohort inevitably specialise in Politics (and usually of course French). I think the department could benefit a lot from forcing some diversification. In addition the course sections are so short that you don't end up going into a great deal of depth, or you go into wayyyyyy too much depth for three or four weeks of teaching (the History section was incredibly interesting but SO intense! Especially considering it was an introduction). Either way, I don't think you learn a great deal that is very useful.
    The first year core course, while on one hand is useful to help those decide their ultimate subject concentration, also takes a holistic and humanistic approach to its study of Europe as a whole. As you've noticed ESPS is in the Arts and Humanities Faculty and if you were to take a closer look the most senior staff member is from the Philosophy department. While its understandable a first year student would not find all workshops/seminars/lectures interesting, they are compulsory for a reason. Given the interdisciplinary nature of a lot of social science courses it is to students' benefit to cross-pollinate some knowledge from say, History onto Anthropological interpretations or Politics into Law perspectives to give an extra-oomph on essays in your other courses.

    The politics-centric culture of ESPS is not true for all years. It is a degree driven both by market-forces on demands of the students and by the practical resources of their full-time staff that belong to the ESPS department in conjunction with other departments. My time at ESPS, politics specialists were not so abundant. We had a large amount of Philosophy and Anthropology specialists that just took the common-core knowledge but made their own "intellectual" home at their specialist departments. The one good thing about ESPS is that it's a home base of intellectual diversity. You live your own life an individual and come together at core seminars, not only in the first year, but also in preparation of the year abroad and the European Research Seminar in the final year so the culture does tend to be more diverse than just political nuts. You'll also in the end have impressive general knowledge.

    The expansion of the politics-side of ESPS is a plus for those interested in politics to be sure. But it was not always so. For example, ESPS did not have an International Relations module in its core course when I was around and the IR specialist is a recent hire. This is probably due in partnership with UCL's (new) Department of Political Science. The Poli Sci department of UCL itself did not exist prior to 2008 all politics specialists could only take the few ESPS politics courses, our language politics/history courses, and the politics courses at the School of Slavonic and East European studies....which needless to say was not the cup of tea of those not interested in that region of politics. So it would be good to take full advantage of the new politics opportunities!

    The lack of opportunities in the core is more due to the fact that no one from the Anthro/Urban Planning/Geography etc departments that has a joint-staff position at both ESPS and their home department. It is a practical reason. University bureaucracy and the amount of time a lecturer would have to invest to be a part of ESPS may have something to do with it (which means that the staff actually present in ESPS are indeed dedicated to your needs). You still have plenty of opportunity to take these specializations even though they're not listed in the core of course.

    (Original post by littleshambles)
    HOWEVER. The ESPS1001 module is only one teeny tiny module of a very long degree so I wouldn't let that put you off if I've made it sound awful. And besides most lectures are deathly boring so whatever. Oh and they're making the dissertation element compulsory again which I'm sure you know about. I was dismayed about this at first because who wants to have to write 10,000 words on god knows what? But then I realised that having it would be an advantage and you get to have a supervisor from the department (did I mention the staff were pretty awesome? Look out particularly for Tom Stern if you get here and Mark Hewitson the world's coolest German history specialist [yeah you thought that was Ian Kershaw huh?]. Philippe Marliere is like the most French guy on the UCL staff and Veronique Munoz-Darde is awesome too. Anyway.). So I voted myself back into a compulsory dissertation. Yeah.
    Note that you are not guaranteed a supervisor from ESPS specifically. You have to sell yourself to them first that you are relevant to eachother as they do have a tendency to get overworked. You will though have priority to be with the ESPS supervisor against, say another student from their "other" department. You can have a supervisor in another UCL department, like a "big name" (I know some are suckers for this), that has more expertise in your dissertation, which would fare much better for your work in the end. The Dissertation is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to employers that you can manage a long project with field-research in your Year Abroad country. Plenty of my coursemates also did internships in their year abroad to diversify their CV. Also, when you come back you will be asked to give a presentation where you have to stand up to the scrutiny of your ESPS peers which can be fun.
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    Wow, it sounds good. If anyone knows anything about the full economics specialisation, please post about it.
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    The full economics specialization now requires that an A* in Maths at A-level though this will not be used as a pre-interview filter and the A* will only be asked for when making conditional offers. The rational for this is....well, plenty of first-year ESPSers in the past took UCL economics proper for a laugh and bombed the exams. This, understandably did not make ESPS look good and the UCL econ department was similarly unimpressed:o: .

    I'd specify the full-economics only if you are sure you can achieve the entry marks and have an aptitude for quantitative subjects....otherwise the Department may strongly suggest that you switch specialization if your first-year uni results in economics are low. At one point in the revision meeting, a member of staff practically begged a few of us to drop economics because "if you're not talented at it now, you will not be in the future and your marks will crash down!". If you still wish to take economics but do so partially, if this option is still available in course choices, you can take the economics courses at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES). Plenty of my coursemates took this route after doing poorly in UCL Economics and they all said that SSEES-Economics is miles easier in coursework and exams and at a more manageable pace.
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    (Original post by WaltzvWendt)
    The full economics specialization now requires that an A* in Maths at A-level though this will not be used as a pre-interview filter and the A* will only be asked for when making conditional offers. The rational for this is....well, plenty of first-year ESPSers in the past took UCL economics proper for a laugh and bombed the exams. This, understandably did not make ESPS look good and the UCL econ department was similarly unimpressed:o: .

    I'd specify the full-economics only if you are sure you can achieve the entry marks and have an aptitude for quantitative subjects....otherwise the Department may strongly suggest that you switch specialization if your first-year uni results in economics are low. At one point in the revision meeting, a member of staff practically begged a few of us to drop economics because "if you're not talented at it now, you will not be in the future and your marks will crash down!". If you still wish to take economics but do so partially, if this option is still available in course choices, you can take the economics courses at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES). Plenty of my coursemates took this route after doing poorly in UCL Economics and they all said that SSEES-Economics is miles easier in coursework and exams and at a more manageable pace.
    Well, I am interested in Economics + German courses and so ESPS would be one of these for me. It says on the website that the full economics specialisation prepares a student for postgraduate study so I assume this means at least 50% of the course is Economics, right?
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    (Original post by thegenius31416)
    Well, I am interested in Economics + German courses and so ESPS would be one of these for me. It says on the website that the full economics specialisation prepares a student for postgraduate study so I assume this means at least 50% of the course is Economics, right?
    If you count the dissertation as Economics then your total would be over 50%. But for the full I'd be assuming that for any unit specified as being an "area of specialization" it MUST be an economics course, so you wouldn't really have the opportunity to take another non-economics course unless you make a very strong case for it or risk losing the "full" designation.It does make sense as the full prepares you for postgrad while the 'element of' doesn't, and since you'll be taking language/culture courses concurrently as a degree requirement you are already at a knowledge disadvantage with Economics BAs applying to postgrad. At the end of years 1 and 2 you will have a personal meeting with the course tutor (which staff member it is changes each year, and thusly their strictness) to discuss your module choices for the next year to make sure you are on the right track.

    Just in case you haven't run into this yet:
    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/esps/prospectiv...-structure.htm
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    (Original post by WaltzvWendt)
    If you count the dissertation as Economics then your total would be over 50%. But for the full I'd be assuming that for any unit specified as being an "area of specialization" it MUST be an economics course, so you wouldn't really have the opportunity to take another non-economics course unless you make a very strong case for it or risk losing the "full" designation.It does make sense as the full prepares you for postgrad while the 'element of' doesn't, and since you'll be taking language/culture courses concurrently as a degree requirement you are already at a knowledge disadvantage with Economics BAs applying to postgrad. At the end of years 1 and 2 you will have a personal meeting with the course tutor (which staff member it is changes each year, and thusly their strictness) to discuss your module choices for the next year to make sure you are on the right track.

    Just in case you haven't run into this yet:
    http://www.ucl.ac.uk/esps/prospectiv...-structure.htm
    For me, the course would be like joint honours Economics and German (but with the added bonus of the intro course at the start). Although I am interested in the different aspects of the course, it is the Economics part that I know I would like to specialise in (I would be applying to Economics with study in Germany courses as well).

    Since you have to have an A* in Mathematics A-Level, I would assume that there is a great deal of mathematics content in the full specialisation (just as there would be in straight economics at UCL).

    After the course, I would most probably have to apply for a Masters in Economics if I were to follow a career in this area (actual economics, not Investment Banking or anything). The website of the course does say that it prepares the student for this postgraduate study.
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    Is your chosen specialization clearly specified in your final degree? I'm afraid my country wouldn't recognise a "European Social and Political Studies" degree...
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    (Original post by lia134)
    Is your chosen specialisation clearly specified in your final degree? I'm afraid my country wouldn't recognise a "European Social and Political Studies" degree...
    Unfortunately the specialization is not named in the diploma or the transcripts. Though quite a few grad schemes would ask for a transcript anyway and it gets quite obvious from the course choices what your specialization. Also, students make a point to explicitly state their specialization on their CV.

    Which country are you from? Students from ESPS usually have no problems being employed/ being admitted to postgrad back in their home countries or in continental Europe. A Japanese ESPS-er was able to use her degree for Nomura in Asia. The profile of the degree itself is rising and can only get better in the future as a niche-flagship degree from UCL. Though I understand your concerns.
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    (Original post by WaltzvWendt)
    Unfortunately the specialization is not named in the diploma or the transcripts. Though quite a few grad schemes would ask for a transcript anyway and it gets quite obvious from the course choices what your specialization. Also, students make a point to explicitly state their specialization on their CV.

    Which country are you from? Students from ESPS usually have no problems being employed/ being admitted to postgrad back in their home countries or in continental Europe. A Japanese ESPS-er was able to use her degree for Nomura in Asia. The profile of the degree itself is rising and can only get better in the future as a niche-flagship degree from UCL. Though I understand your concerns.
    Thank you for your reply!
    I'm from Spain, where there's no tradition of studying abroad. Therefore, even if it's a degree from UCL, I'm not sure about how this kind of degrees would be regarded by employers, as Spanish universities do not offer programmes in this format. It seems a very well structured and interesting course though.
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    (Original post by WaltzvWendt)
    Please note that the amount of contact hours in your language courses are very language-department specific, it is by no means uniform for all languages. For Russian, if this is taken at SSEES it has been well known that the language acquisition course is very very short and some other seminars run by SSEES are fortnightly rather than weekly. Conversely other departments such as Dutch will have "hidden" modules that add extra hours and seminars to the language acquisition and cultural modules so the language and cultural part for other languages can also be quite intense. This can lead to comparing and squabbling amongst ESPS colleagues on who received the raw deal on languages.
    Could you expand a bit on this? E.g. how many contact hours were you getting for Dutch?
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    (Original post by llys)
    Could you expand a bit on this? E.g. how many contact hours were you getting for Dutch?
    Wow. That was a long time ago! But I think I had 2x 2 hours a week language. An hour a week speaking, then two hours a week for history and two hours of translation at my final year. So at my worse it was 9 hrs a week for Dutch alone. But I think it was typically seven or six a week. This was ages ago and the language plans could have shifted by then. I think it was less for Italian and Russian.
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    I know the contact hours/week will be unique for each individual depending on what modules they're studying, but what's an average week? i.e. How many lectures, seminars, tutorials, essays etc?
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    Hi, I'm sorry to bother you people. In need of some urgent help.
    I am a second year student at Sciences Po in the Europe-Asia program. My university has an exchange agreement (on the ESPS) with UCL. But in my case it would be a bit unique because mine is a three-year undergraduate degree and, so in essence, after the completion of my third year, potentially at UCL, I would have graduated from my home institution (Sciences Po).

    In such a scenario, I had some queries concerning the ESPS:

    a) Is the ESPS course at par with other courses offered at UCL to usual undergraduates
    b) How would you assess the teaching and guidance on the ESPS, particularly in Politics and Economics
    c) What are the networking opportunities offered by the ESPS program over the duration of the year, in particular among fellow exchange students (since I reckon there are a significant number each year) and ESPS students
    d) Importantly, how well would one, as an exchange student, be able to utilize the Careers Service desk at UCL for potential full-time employment opportunities after the completion of the year (particularly in London/Paris/Asia[I'm an Indian]).

    Please try and help at the earliest since I have to hand over my year-abroad options to Sciences Po very soon. Thank you.


    Kishan R. Kumar
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    Dear Kishan,

    I'd like to help. I am a Third Year ESPS student currently on my year abroad in Florence.

    There are many people who come who do what you do, and I am sure that you will be alright.
    The following things I say without bias, having observed them at length:

    ESPS is one of the most heavily academic and excellent (as in they excel) courses in UCL. You will find that ESPS students often stand a head above other students (even in their own departments). In terms of course choice, you pretty much can select any humanities courses, including (but not limited to) Politics, International Relations, Economics, Law, History, Philosophy, Geography, etc.

    Teaching at ESPS proper is rather good, if limited to only a few courses. However, you can pick almost any course and as a result you can pick what best suits you and your academic direction, including courses with the best lecturers. I will confess that the choice of politics proper courses is limited since UCL doesn't have a dedicated politics department (this is as close as it comes) but you can pick related history, IR or philosophy courses that will add up to the same or better than you will get anywhere. The Economics department is one of the best in the country and since you can pick your own courses you will be fine. There are a number of tutors who link ESPS with other departments who should be willing to help and provide any further guidance. They are very friendly.

    ESPS is almost 50% comprised of students from the EU and other countries so you network with people from across the globe. In addition to this UCL is the most international of all British universities with 40% of its students from abroad. As a result, you are often much more likely to encounter foreigners than British students (I've had trouble finding enough British friends )

    Lastly, the CAreers Service is excellent providing all the services you need and should help you structure your CV and career perspectives as to your wishes.

    Good luck!
 
 
 
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