Combined Honours in Social Sciences - Life as a Fresher!

Jonathan describes life as a first-year studying Combined Honours in Social Sciences!

What is the best thing about your subject?

I can tailor my degree to suit my interests and curiosities to a large extent.

What is the worst thing about your subject?

Sometimes lecturers will draw on or relate to information from modules in a subject that you didn’t study.

If you’re only studying one module in a certain subject, you get a lot less practice/experience writing essays/exams for that subject than students solely studying that subject, yet you’re being graded without this consideration.

How many contact hours do you get per week?

Around 11 hours.

How do people respond when you say you’re studying the subject?

Look at me in confusion or think ‘WOW that’s cool.’

Examples of modules you have studied?

The Makings of Modern Africa 1880-2000 (History), Chinese Language, New Venture Creation (Business), Introduction to Middle East Politics (Politics).

Do you know what career you’re aiming for and if so what do you want to do?

I’d love to work for the diplomatic service.

What do you do in your tutorials/seminars?

Business – this year we’ve had to do a group presentation for every tutorial bar one.

Politics – a lot of discussion, especially on the Foundations of Western Political Thought module.

Chinese – making sentences form the core vocab /sentence structures in the textbook, and reading through the text sentence by sentence. There’s also a listening lab where we write English translations or a recording the teacher has done online, and also answer questions about what we’ve heard.

If you weren’t studying this subject, what do you think you’d study instead?

Politics and International Relations.

What subject-related societies/events are there at Durham?

There’s the Combined Honours in Social Sciences society, which has pizza meets and a ball!

You can also get involved in subject-specific societies like Politics.

What is it like studying your subject in Durham?

It’s great, it’s such a flexible degree.

An example of something especially interesting that you’ve learned?

It was quite interesting studying the complexity of Regional Trade Organisations in ‘International Organisations’, and seeing how they often reflect the domestic legislation of leading member states. For example, the reason for the EU’s restrictive policy on Dairy Farming is largely due to the strong stance France took on it, emphasizing that certain institutions should have sole rights over certain land.

Do you have the same or different lecturers each week?

With some Politics modules the lecturers change fairly regularly.

Something you’d wished you’d have known about your subject before you arrived at Durham?

Although politics have a lot of formative essays, they build up if you study quite a few politics modules. It would have been good to know that they needed to be started on early!