Our guide to politics

Our guide to politics

First published date February 14 2014 Amended date April 17 2015

Politics is ubiquitous in our world. It creates laws and forms the frameworks of how our society works. Politics can send aid or start wars, but no matter what it does, it will always exist. Whether you’re an aspiring politician, an academic, hungry for more knowledge or you want a strong qualification to find employment, then our list of politics courses can help you on your way.


Why study politics?

Politics is all around us, it affects everything that we do. Politics sets the foundations of every aspect of human life, from the unexciting, such as cutting the grass in the local park, to the philosophical, such as sending aid to those in need. Studying a politics course will help you to analyse the state of Britain’s government and learn how different ideologies have changed and progressed throughout history.

Studying politics is great for almost everyone as it can lead to numerous career paths. Those who want to go into politics and government, will find what they learn from a politics course to be imperative to their success, whilst those want to get a career outside of politics will find that employers, for a wide range of careers, actively seek out the skills a politics degree will teach you.


What will I learn?

Depending on what type of course and level you want to study, will change the complexity of the course. Most people start off at the lower level courses and work their way up through A Level to undergraduate if they still want to study politics.

Introductory and specific courses: These courses are aimed at those who want to study law but aren’t looking for a qualification from the course. These may be for people who want to study an introduction to politics to see whether they want to study more complex politics courses, whereas specific courses will be good for people who are interested in politics and want to broaden their academic knowledge without gaining a formal qualification. Specific courses can focus on particular countries or certain events and are often tailored to those who are especially interested in learning about them.

AS and A Level: Taking an A Level course in politics will help to prepare you and give you the qualifications required for a further education course. The course will take specific areas of politics and teach you these in a more detailed manner. Courses will often include teaching you about governing modern Britain, ideologies (such as liberalism, socialism, conservatism and fascism), USA politics and political issues (such as environment, economy, education and ethnicity and gender).

Undergraduate: This is where it gets tough! An undergraduate degree in politics will take what you learnt on your A Level course and teach it to you at a much more complex level. You will learn about politics all over the world and how this has changed and affected people throughout history. You will generally need a good grade to undergo a politics degree as it involves a lot of hard work and a variety of skills to succeed.

Postgraduate: A postgraduate degree in politics will enable you to choose a specific area that interests you, you will then research and study this in great depth before writing a long academic essay to analyse what you’re studying. This can lead to a PhD and then becoming a lecturer and academic in politics.


Career prospects

The career prospects for those who graduate with a degree in politics are great; a course will give you a diverse range of skills that many employers seek in a candidate. Studying politics involves the ability to research and analyse, using a variety of sources in great depth, enabling you to develop problem solving skills. You will be able to prioritise specific sources and information and use these to create coherent arguments, improving both your verbal and written communication skills. Your knowledge of political issues and interest in public affairs will show your employer you are prepared for the frequent changing environments of the working world. Many jobs in all industries seek out these skills; once you’re hired they will train you on the job in the specific area that you choose.

Many politics students go on to get jobs in industries such as: business and finance, education, public sector, marketing, civil service, computing and IT, advertising, sales and recruitment. There are many more opportunities out there and most employers are looking for those who have studied politics courses, as research, analysis and communication skills are applicable for almost any job.

If you want to become a political researcher or politics lecturer then a politics degree will be required but for most political jobs a degree isn’t actually required, however showing you have a previous interest and knowledge of politics greatly helps you over other candidates. Other jobs related to politics that your degree can put you in great stead for include; political journalism, working for a human rights agency, working for non-profit agencies, public affairs consultant, roles in think-tanks (political research organisation) and many more. After you have graduated you could also become a lawyer or solicitor by taking the postgraduate course in law, Graduate Diploma in Law.


Tips for becoming an MP

So, you want to be the next Winston Churchill? Now that you’ve studied a law course you will have a substantial amount of knowledge about politics and the history of politics. This will help you in your new venture. Being a member of parliament (MP) will involve representing the people of your local constituency in the House of Commons. If you are successful you can rise up the ranks of your chosen party, and who knows, you could one day be the Prime Minister.

Join a party: No we’re not talking about a house party, we mean a political party. What party would you like to represent? Choose the party that you would like to represent and that would suit your political views. You could run independently but this is virtually impossible; without the big marketing campaigns and funding of big parties you will find it hard to get votes.

Practise public speaking: You need to practise public speaking as much as possible. Your success of winning the vote, and becoming an MP, will be on how well you are able to persuade people that your policies are better than other candidates, through public speaking and meeting local residents.

Media savvy: Become media savvy. You need to market yourself as much as possible so always attend community events and plan campaigns of your own. Write press releases and hold frequent talks for the community. Also with the ever-growing power of social media, use Facebook and Twitter to promote yourself and your ideas while also connecting with local people and building positive relationships.

Look presentable: People will base their vote on the whole package, it’s not just about political policies it’s also about how much they like each candidate and whether they like you as person. Looking tidy and presentable will automatically make them trust you and want to listen to your policies.

Meet the public: Meet the public and get your name out there, if you want people to vote for you then they’ll have to like you. Market yourself way and think about the peoples best interest, you are there to represent your local


Five interesting facts about UK prime ministers

Margaret Thatcher: Thatcher became the first female PM in 1979. Unwilling to accept protests, Thatcher installed the security gates the end of Downing Street, preventing Londoners to use it as regular street, as it was intended for.

Robert Peel: In 1829 Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force for London based at Scotland Yard. The employed constables were nicknamed ‘Bobbies’ or ‘Peelers’ after the Prime Minister. Peel was the target of a failed assassination when a criminally insane Scottish woodsman, named Daniel M’Naghten, stalked him for several days before accidently killing Peel’s personal secretary.

Winston Churchill: Churchill is the most famous UK Prime Minister and has been voted the greatest Briton ever. Despite this Churchill had a terrible academic record and was known as a trouble maker. In 1899 Churchill became for war correspondent for the Morning Post during the Boer War in South Africa. Churchill was shot at and captured. After spending nearly a month as a prisoner of war, Churchill managed to escape and miraculously make it to safety.

John Major: Major was the PM when Downing Street came under a terrorist attack in 1991. During a cabinet meeting the IRA launched three mortars from a van parked in Whitehall. One exploded in No.10’s garden, while the other two landed near the Foreign Office. After a few minutes Major calmly announced ‘I think we’d better start again somewhere else’.

William Pitt the Younger: He became the youngest Prime Minister in British history (and still is) in 1783, at the age of just 24. In 1799 he introduced income tax, set at 10% to pay for the war against Napoleon; it was only supposed to be a temporary measure to win the war.

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