zero idea where i want to apply for uni or what to study

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franklyfruity
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I’ve been in a crisis about this for the last three weeks and I’m still no closer to a decision, so let me explain my situation.

I want to apply to do something regarding history, international relations, or politics - and I’m struggling to choose between the three. I know there’s the option of a joint degree but I don’t know which two I would pick and why. I also think explaining a love for two or even three subjects would be pretty hard to do on a personal statement without confusing the reader and making them question whether I actually want to do their IR course (for example) or if I should be studying history. Like, if I apply to do IR + politics at one uni, and apply for solely history at another, how can I talk about all three in a PS?

My other (and pretty big) problem is where I actually want to apply. I live in Scotland so it seems silly to not apply to Edinburgh or Glasgow, but I really want to get as far away from home as possible and my whole life I have really only thought about going to an English uni. I have all A’s at national 5 and higher so I’m looking at applying to some pretty prestigious places. You might ask why I’m not considering St Andrews - it’s a truly terrific uni and it would be perfect for me but I have a ton of family there and I visit way too often for it to be a new magical experience when I leave for uni.

So along with either Glasgow or Edinburgh, the other universities I’ve considered are Oxford/Cambridge (probably Oxford), Durham, SOAS in London or some other place in London like UCL. My mother has suggested places like York too but I don’t really know anything about the place and it doesn’t sound so appealing to me.

I’ve always imagined myself at somewhere like Oxford, and my friends often joke and stereotype me as the posh intellectual who will spend her uni days punting down the river and eating smashed avocado for breakfast, but recently I’ve wondered if somewhere like London might actually be enjoyable too? I’ve never lived in a big city but I have fun whenever I visit, and I like the idea of the versatility - you can NEVER be bored in London, there’s always so much going on and so many different people are catered to.

Ultimately my questions are as follows - does anyone have any advice to choosing my subject, outside of open days? I want to potentially read some of the first year material but I’m scared I’ll hate it or find it disinteresting and then have no idea what to study. And secondly, is anyone at any of the above unis? Are you enjoying your time there? How did you pick just five courses to apply to?

Apologies for the lengthy question and thank you so much for any help in advance.
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Itzy
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Hey there! I have a friend who did a degree in History and Politics from Oxford and loved it. Based on what you said, I feel like the course might be suitable for you. It combines an interdisciplinary way of looking at the two subjects, which you can try to bring out in your PS. LSE and Birmingham offer this as well.

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...y-and-politics

Tbh I totally agree with you that you should go somewhere new and adventurous for university instead of staying close to your home and so London might be a good idea. Unis in the midlands could also work. I do think you could consider one nearby university as one of the 5 UCAS options.

Hope this helps
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McGinger
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You have until October to make the Oxbridge decision, and you have until January 2022 to make the 'other Universities' decision, and if you decide to not apply in Y13 but wait until a gap year, you have even longer - so stop putting pressure on yourself.

Start by reading - I want to go to Uni but I don't know what to study : https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/uni...-what-to-study
History degrees - https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/History_Degree
Politics degrees - https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/politics_Degree

Then look for the short subject presentations for various Unis on YouTube and get an idea about what each subject involves and what each Uni 'feels like. Have a dip into some of the super-curriculars suggested by Cambridge (useful wherever you decide to apply) - the Radio 4 stuff is particular accessible - https://www.undergraduate.study.cam....uggestions.pdf
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Ototot
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(Original post by franklyfruity)
I’ve been in a crisis about this for the last three weeks and I’m still no closer to a decision, so let me explain my situation.

I want to apply to do something regarding history, international relations, or politics - and I’m struggling to choose between the three. I know there’s the option of a joint degree but I don’t know which two I would pick and why. I also think explaining a love for two or even three subjects would be pretty hard to do on a personal statement without confusing the reader and making them question whether I actually want to do their IR course (for example) or if I should be studying history. Like, if I apply to do IR + politics at one uni, and apply for solely history at another, how can I talk about all three in a PS?

My other (and pretty big) problem is where I actually want to apply. I live in Scotland so it seems silly to not apply to Edinburgh or Glasgow, but I really want to get as far away from home as possible and my whole life I have really only thought about going to an English uni. I have all A’s at national 5 and higher so I’m looking at applying to some pretty prestigious places. You might ask why I’m not considering St Andrews - it’s a truly terrific uni and it would be perfect for me but I have a ton of family there and I visit way too often for it to be a new magical experience when I leave for uni.

So along with either Glasgow or Edinburgh, the other universities I’ve considered are Oxford/Cambridge (probably Oxford), Durham, SOAS in London or some other place in London like UCL. My mother has suggested places like York too but I don’t really know anything about the place and it doesn’t sound so appealing to me.

I’ve always imagined myself at somewhere like Oxford, and my friends often joke and stereotype me as the posh intellectual who will spend her uni days punting down the river and eating smashed avocado for breakfast, but recently I’ve wondered if somewhere like London might actually be enjoyable too? I’ve never lived in a big city but I have fun whenever I visit, and I like the idea of the versatility - you can NEVER be bored in London, there’s always so much going on and so many different people are catered to.

Ultimately my questions are as follows - does anyone have any advice to choosing my subject, outside of open days? I want to potentially read some of the first year material but I’m scared I’ll hate it or find it disinteresting and then have no idea what to study. And secondly, is anyone at any of the above unis? Are you enjoying your time there? How did you pick just five courses to apply to?

Apologies for the lengthy question and thank you so much for any help in advance.
I’m from Scotland as well, I got into history and politics at glasgow but rejected from Edinburgh because of my grades lol. IR and politics are quite similar I’d say so you can definitely merge the 2 into one personal statement but talk about how the actions and legislation of other countries effects one another then give an example. If your looking into politics I’d read up on political theorist as well at least one like Plato to mention. If your aiming for oxbridge you definitely need to read books on these subject areas possibly podcasts, reports and possibly try and attend or watch lectures as well. My personal statement was definitely more politics based than history but when I did mention history I tried to link it as best I could with politics. Remember to mention clubs, leadership and volunteering if you’ve done or got any. Finding work experince for politics/IR/history is quite difficult but I’m sure if you tried phoning museums etc you might be able to find some. I picked glasgow because they have quite a good student satisfaction score and I thought it was a great opportunity for me to have so I took it. I choose my universities randomly ill be honest, I checked the entry requirements once and then choose with that information basically along with some other information obviously. I definitely recommend doing more research than I did because with wish I knew how competitive Edinburgh was. I chose 1 university I was pretty sure I could get in 1 that i was confident I could get in and then 3 I wasn’t sure I ended up getting into 4 of them without meeting most of the universities entry requirements so a good personal statement is worth alot! I still don’t know if I’m going to like the course or not so honestly don’t worry about not knowing. I’m not sure if this is helpful but it’s a few ideas, good luck!!
Last edited by Ototot; 1 month ago
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SOAS
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(Original post by franklyfruity)
I’ve been in a crisis about this for the last three weeks and I’m still no closer to a decision, so let me explain my situation.

I want to apply to do something regarding history, international relations, or politics - and I’m struggling to choose between the three. I know there’s the option of a joint degree but I don’t know which two I would pick and why. I also think explaining a love for two or even three subjects would be pretty hard to do on a personal statement without confusing the reader and making them question whether I actually want to do their IR course (for example) or if I should be studying history. Like, if I apply to do IR + politics at one uni, and apply for solely history at another, how can I talk about all three in a PS?

My other (and pretty big) problem is where I actually want to apply. I live in Scotland so it seems silly to not apply to Edinburgh or Glasgow, but I really want to get as far away from home as possible and my whole life I have really only thought about going to an English uni. I have all A’s at national 5 and higher so I’m looking at applying to some pretty prestigious places. You might ask why I’m not considering St Andrews - it’s a truly terrific uni and it would be perfect for me but I have a ton of family there and I visit way too often for it to be a new magical experience when I leave for uni.

So along with either Glasgow or Edinburgh, the other universities I’ve considered are Oxford/Cambridge (probably Oxford), Durham, SOAS in London or some other place in London like UCL. My mother has suggested places like York too but I don’t really know anything about the place and it doesn’t sound so appealing to me.

I’ve always imagined myself at somewhere like Oxford, and my friends often joke and stereotype me as the posh intellectual who will spend her uni days punting down the river and eating smashed avocado for breakfast, but recently I’ve wondered if somewhere like London might actually be enjoyable too? I’ve never lived in a big city but I have fun whenever I visit, and I like the idea of the versatility - you can NEVER be bored in London, there’s always so much going on and so many different people are catered to.

Ultimately my questions are as follows - does anyone have any advice to choosing my subject, outside of open days? I want to potentially read some of the first year material but I’m scared I’ll hate it or find it disinteresting and then have no idea what to study. And secondly, is anyone at any of the above unis? Are you enjoying your time there? How did you pick just five courses to apply to?

Apologies for the lengthy question and thank you so much for any help in advance.
Hi there,

These subjects tend to have a lot of overlap so I understand it's difficult to choose! From my experience with IR, it encompasses aspects of both history and politics but remains focused on the global context. At SOAS, politics and IR have a lot of modules in common but also have some exclusive modules. I don't have any experience of 'exclusive' politics modules but my impression is that politics tends to focus on political parties and voters as the lowest common denominator, whereas in IR we tend to see governments as the pawns in global politics if that makes sense! We do of course look at influences on governments which often includes national politics but governments are the main unit we work with. Hopefully, that gives you an idea of the big differences, but there are so many similarities it's often difficult to fully separate them.

For advice on choosing a subject, I'd really recommend reading the module overviews for each of the subjects so you get a good overall view of what you'll be studying. This will help with which uni fits you best too! For SOAS you can find the Politics course structure here, IR here and History here. If anything grabs your attention it might be fun to read a paper or two from the reading list.

What stood out about SOAS for me was the opportunity to build specific area knowledge and be able to focus in on what I find most interesting as I progress through my degree. The department has some of the best area specialists in the world and I can safely say I've never had a lecturer with a CV that is anything less than awe-inspiring! The student body in general is very politically minded so there is never a dull moment in debates, both in terms of always being passionate and exciting but also in that there are so many well-formed and interesting ideas that come out of conversations. Everything SOAS teaches is very much in touch with what's going on in the world right now and lecturers always have their fingers on the pulse of how academics are evolving to reflect the times. London is an awesome place to live, and as you said it's difficult to be bored here! There are so many communities you can get involved with through SOAS, through the University of London, and outside of uni, so you're certain to find your people if you put the effort in. The SOAS student body is very welcoming, and the small scale of the uni has always made it feel homely to me, especially as it's nestled in such a busy part of London. Of course it's a bit expensive but I wanted to live here whilst I'm being given a loan to do it!

If you have any other questions please send them my way

Ella
BA International Relations and Korean
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