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Politics and International Studies

This is a popular and diverse major – one that does allow you to study a mixture of political ideas and contemporary events, even if it is a little lighter on the latter. The subject base is very broad, and includes a strong mix of international and national political subjects.

The examples studied can be a little shallow at times. The introductory subjects are very basic, to the level where you’re taught what cabinet is in first year Australian Politics. Second year’s Politics and the Media starts off with a very simple explanation that “the media influences politics”. Similarly, studies of individual events or movements can sometimes not go beyond the basic facts and theoretical linkages. Nonetheless, the flexibility is there and subjects such as the popular Public Policy Making do introduce many to new approaches.

The two compulsory subjects, Critical Analytical Skills and Applied Research Methods, are widely disliked by students. The convoluted and unclear nature of teaching and assessment make them a tough challenge. Having a look at a good practical polling or research methods book – as opposed to the often confusing subject readers – can be helpful in getting through them.

Despite this, studying politics can be really rewarding – teaching you about both new ideas and key events. This is both practically useful in pursing a range of policy and administrative careers – and helpful and interesting in building knowledge of the world.