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UCAS Questions & Answers

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Economics and Politics joint degree advice

Q: hello, my name is michelle and i am thinking of studying politics with economic at university. ive tried to look at unis which offer this subject althoguh is hard to find the gd uni, since one or the other specify and are good in economic and no so much in politics... also i am starting to draft my personal statemnt, and are thinkin of ways to start it.. since i no it has to be intriguing at eye catching. any tips on how to start, what to include, and possible books 2 read over the summer. thank you for any help.

There are in fact several top class universities which offer joint degree courses in Economics and Politics (as opposed to a major and a subsidiary subject). They are: Bath, Bristol, Durham, Exeter, Leeds, LSE (Government and Economics), Newcastle, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton and York. To this list could be added Essex (one of the best joint courses), Edinburgh (4 year course) and Glasgow (4 year course). Oxford of course offers PPE; Canbridge does not offer the joint subject. There is also the hybrid Political Economy at Birmingham. So there is in fact plenty of choice.
As far as reading is concerned, you need something stimulating, even quirky. Try some of these:

Ball – Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another

Bishop - Essential Economics

Blackburn – Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy

Buchholz – New Ideas From Dead Economists

Dixit and Nalebuff - Thinking Stategically

Fisher – Critical Thinking: An Introduction

Frank – What’s the Matter with Kansas?

Friedman - The World Is Flat

Harford – The Undercover Economist

Harford - The Logic of Life

Heilbroner – The Worldly Philosophers (6th ed.)

Joyce – Teach Yourself 101 Key Ideas in Politics

Kay – The Truth about Markets

Kay - Everlasting Light Bulbs

Krugman – The Accidental Theorist and Other Dispatches from the Dismal Science

Krugman - Peddling Prosperity

Law – The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking

Levitt & Dubner – Freakonomics; A Rogue Economist explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Ormerod – Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics

Pirie – How to Win Every Argument: the Use and Abuse of Logic

Ritzer – The McDonaldisation of Society

Strathern - Dr. Strangelove's Game

Surowiecki - The Wisdom of Crowds

Warburton – Thinking from A to Z

Wheatcroft - Yo, Blair!

Wolff - An Introduction to Political Philosophy

As for the opening for a Personal Statement, the key point is to make it stand out. Short sentences do this. You will probably need to start with Economics and then link it with Politics. Three recent examples are appended to give you some idea of the technique

As time passes by I realise how each day we live is influenced by the choices we make and the changes that occur in life after making them. I believe that people's lives are all about taking decisions, which involves assuming responsibilities, making compromises and taking on risks.

Whether the economy faces a recession or a boom, it is ultimately there at the heart of the majority of decisions we make in our lifetime; the price we pay for our home, the sum of disposable income we have for life's luxuries and even whether I can afford to pay off my student loan after leaving university. Studying the subject in depth will challenge me to understand how influential the economy can be and even how an economy recovers from the tumultuous situation it faces today.

Studying economics at A-level showed me that this subject is fundamental to our everyday life on both a local and international scale. Reading broadsheet newspapers, watching the news and reading The Economist have confirmed this for me. Articles by Anatole Kaletsky in The Times are a personal favourite. The political aspects of economics particularly interest me and I feel that economics and politics are complementary subjects. The behaviour of firms and organisations, and the way in which government and politics influence this behaviour fascinate me.  Understanding and analysing the policies implemented by governments and other international bodies in an attempt to reduce the effects of a recession and secure longer-term growth highlight the constraints within whih decision makers have to operate.

I hope this is helpful.

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