Debunking the Myth: Studying Politics


There are a myriad of misnomers associated with the study of politics at university. Like politics in general, the effect of expressing an interest in pursuing politics as a degree can be highly divisive or unifying, depending on whether your political ideology is shared by those you discuss things with. While such a discussion can always be tactfully evaded, there are numerous myths about those who study Politics at university which desperately need to be tackled…

  1. We’re at the front of the impending Political Revolution

The first myth that needs dispelling is that all politics students are political activists waiting for their opportunity to fix the “corrupt and broken” system in which we currently live. We might want the system to be fixed, but we’re not all political activists, at the front of protests rallying for change. In recent years there have been public protests by students against rising tuition fees but this activism is not unanimous. Politics students align themselves with a broad range political parties, ideas or schools of thought. We’re not all Corbynites or die-hard fans of Theresa May.

2. Politics? Is that Arts or Science?

Should politics be considered a Science or Arts degree? While politics does not contain endless hours of lab experiments typically associated with established science degrees, gone are the days when politics degrees simply consist of essays and analysis of important events. To put it simply, a Politics degree is a mixture of both.

3. Politics isn’t a ‘real’ degree

A label thrown at many humanities and social science degrees, the controversy over how difficult or challenging a Politics degree really is, is a topic that has been subject to considerable critique. The idea that Politics degrees are easy, a waste of time and money, and can be learnt by reading books and sat in an armchair or engaging in debates at a local pub, is quite simply, inaccurate. Sure, Politics doesn’t carry the same status or prestige of degrees traditionally considered challenging, nor does it have as many contact hours as the sciences degrees, yet politics has its place as a ‘real’ degree. Like many of the humanities subjects, the lack of contact hours is instead replaced with endless hours spent at Hartley library preparing for the few contact hours that do exist a week, or any various coursework assignments. Also because of the ever changing nature of politics, textbooks and journal articles can quickly become outdated, making things quite difficult for us Politics students!

4. We argue all the time.

We’re not engaged in debates of salient political issues 24/7. An unfortunate consequence of studying such a current and changing degree is that political events do frequently occur, and politics students often take different stances on most of them. While this article makes no claim or guarantee that politics students with a communist and a capitalist outlook will ever find much common ground, there is, on the whole, great consensus between politics students concerning the direction the country is heading – we don’t all rage at each other or make indirect tweets aimed at someone who thinks different.

5. Career prospects: You HAVE to be a politician

When applying for university, I was asked countless times whether I wanted to be the next Prime Minister. Political aspirations aside, while there is a clear political career path in local government, national government or even the civil service, these are not the only options available. Indeed, politics develops a broad range of analytical skills that could be used in many different career paths – journalism, law, and marketing to name but a few, but similar stereotypes can be made for almost every degree.

So there you go, if you’re a Politics student and get asked these things all the time, just direct people to this article!

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Wessex Scene Politics Editor 2016/17 Modern History and Politics Student

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