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Economics, Politics & Law

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Date of Review Aug 23, 2011 Go Back
Year of Study 3rd
15 Helpful votes.
Student Type Traditional
From Roscommon Ireland
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Why did you choose to study this course?

What drew to me DCU was its location being set in Dublin, it's reputation as one of Ireland's best Universities (in my time at DCU it won the Times University of the year award), the friendly reputation of the university and the campus itself.

As college campuses go DCU is one of Ireland's best. It provides everything a student could need on campus: Accommodation literally two minutes from the lecture rooms, a bookshop, library, convenience store, one of Ireland's best kept gyms, and an affordable canteen with student meal offers available for under €5. It is also well laid out. The longest walk I have had is the distance between the Humanities building and the library and that was only four minutes.

Are you happy with your choice of course?

Yes

Why

As a student, placed like many in a position where I did not know what I wanted to do with my life the Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Politics and Law provided a wide field of study with the further option of specialisation in third year should I lean more towards any of the fields of the course.

Starting out the course opened with well taught introduction courses to the central topics of law, economics and politics and expanded into more detailed areas of each. The lecturers were motivated and many teach multiple modules throughout the course which allowed for the build up of a rapport with the class and students who wanted to approach their lecturers for further help.

My main criticism of the course is that there wasn't enough time in it. In the third year the student is presented with a veritable smorgasbord of options to study. Three modules are compulsory (one from each field) and a maximum of 9 can be chosen between the final two semesters. The choice of modules is great and there are so many interesting options that have to be sacrificed because of the limited amount of modules you can take. To say that a course has too much of a good thing however is not stinging critism and I hope a testament to the work of the organisers and teachers that have driven this course (now in its 7th year).

How many hours of organised classes do you have per week?

12 - 15

Are your lectures/labs mainly based on or off the main campus?

Yes

Is your course weighted more on continuous assessment or end of year exams?

Yes

What advice would you give to a prospective student interested in this course?

If you have an interest in current affairs and would like to know more about the way that the world works this course is for you. Law, politics and economics feature everyday in the news and shape the world that we live in. Having knowledge of this is a wonderful thing and enriches the experience of anyone who wants to analysis and ask why things are the way they are. For the person who wants to change this world it gives you the critical tools and knowledge necessary to not only diagnose problems but to craft solutions as to how things could be better.

For the student who has an interest in one of the fields of economics, politics and law but is unsure as to whether they want to tie themselves into a course solely devoted to that, and emerge in 3/4 years with a degree in something they do not wish to pursue this course is the perfect way to learn about that but also expand into other fields that gives you plentiful options on graduation be it in masters courses or jobs from entering finance to embarking on the road to becoming a solicitor.

In my own experience I entered the course with an interest in law to the extent that I would like to know more about it but not to the extent that I would want to pursue a career in it. I also wanted to understand the economic and political forces that were defining the times that we live in. As I progressed through the course I discovered that I found the world of law amazingly deep and interesting and from that am planning to do a masters in the field. With EPL I could learn this but did not tie myself into one field that had I not enjoyed so much could have proved to box into something for 3 years that I would never use again.

What are your favourite aspects of your course?

There are certain modules such as moot court which gave students which prioritised student involvement with the module and gave an unconventional path to learning and success. For example the moot court module was graded largely on a person's advocacy skills on front of a bench composed of various law lecturers. Instead of writing essays and filling in exams this module rewarded student participation in the module and developed public speaking and confidence building. Other modules (for example American Electoral Politics) rewarded student contribution in class discussions and debate by linking it to the students overall grade. This made classes much more interesting as the student shifted from passive absorber of data and opinions to a contributer in the class discovery of knowledge. It makes time pass more quickly as students are engaged and recognises the intelligence of students whose strong suit may not be writing but analyising the flow and development of a debate or problem on their feet.

What are your least favourite aspects of your course?

In my own experience the aspect of EPL that I most dreaded were assigned group work projects. In some modules (especially larger modules were a lecturer may not have the resources to correct and grade an essay by every individual student) we were placed into groups assigned by a lecturer and the grade for the group work project (a paper/essay) contributed to the overall grade. The problem with writing a collaborative essay with other people is that there are some people who do not have an interest in the subject and the effort needed to extract a contribution may exceed the worth in terms of doing that work yourself. There are also people who may not be available for working on a project as they commute and cannot spend a lot of time in college and there are those people who disappear half way through the year never to be heard from again. In fairness lecturers can be accommodating if a team member is being completely unreasonable but this just creates more work for you. The art of creating a cogent essay from three separate contributions on three different sections with three different writing styles is an art in itself and deserving of a module of its own which sadly does not exist.
In saying this most people are easy to work with and willing to do their part. The nightmare cases are few and far most of the time. I would caution you only to be wary and ensure that everybody in the group is still in college and knows what they have to do. Be mean if you have to because if someone begins to slack off it's your grade that is hurt.

Rate your course in terms of difficulty

Because of the varied nature of the separate strands of EPL it is difficult and misleading to give it one overall difficulty rating. I will try to give as objective and qualified a rating as I can but this will of course vary based on your own talents and competences.

Economics: One of the most difficult aspects of Economics for me was the learning and remembering of various graphs and formulae in later stage economics. If you are not good with maths or lack a photographic memory this will be one of the most challenging aspects of economics. The basics are relatively easy to grasp and theories tend to follow logical paths that can be worked out in the head.

Politics: My experience of politics was that it was the fun strand of EPL. This is not to detract from its centrality or importance to the course but it largely proved easier than law or economics insofar as there were no formulae to learn or statutes to recall. Essays on the weakness of the left-wing in Ireland or the situation between Israel and Palestine are often largely historical and well published on. The subject is easy to understand and unlike some parts of law the language is easy to understand and accessible.

As a plus the modules are often graded solely or largely by essay (though not always) which meant that the heavy lifting was done outside the frantic exam period freeing up time for other modules.

Law: The difficulty of law varies from module to module. Certain subjects such as Constitutional or Medical law have a heavy presence of cases such as the Norris case(homosexuality in Ireland) and the X case (abortion) which are interesting, noteworthy and relatively easy to remember. Other modules such as company law involve the ability to recall different statues and articles in different Acts which can sometimes be dry and sterile. The cases are not usually life and death (such as medical law) and thus will have less sticking power in the memory. Sometimes there can be such a body of cases and acts to remember that the memory can sometime resemble an alphabet soup as opposed to a body of complex and important legal precedent.

Ranking the three strands in terms of difficulty I would say:

1. Law
2. Economics
3. Politics

In saying this passing and succeeding in each strand is hugely possible and a feat repeated by hundreds of people every year. The sticky patches I outline here are the most tricky aspects and if you can pass those (and trust me you can) then you are sailing.

Please rate your course in terms of workload.

As one progresses from first to third year (fourth year if the optional year abroad is taken - I didn't) the workload will naturally tend to increase. On average one will have a minimum of three written assignments per semester (min 2500 words increasing annually) and about 4 exams. This will vary as modules change and in third year one could pick modules that put all the work on continuous assessment i.e. assignments and essays or puts most of the work into exams so that is at one's discretion.

Of course, you should always always pick modules because they are interesting and you like them and not to avoid an exam. If you like a particular module and are interested in it the work will pass easily and it will be a much richer experience than picking another module just because it seemed like easy work.

How would you describe your college to a friend or a prospective student?

DCU is a university that truly deserves its 2010 University of the Year accolade. As a community DCU is a place where it is incredibly easy to make friends and find people who share your interests. Students in DCU in general do not carry an air of pretense and very friendly to anyone who is friendly to them. In terms of staff the lecturers for Economics, Politics and Law are very approachable and are engaging as lecturers. If a problem exists it can be brought to the attention of the relevant person in charge without any fear of reprisal.

Beyond the academic which has been talked about throughout this review DCU has a wealth of varied and active student societies. From snowboarding to debating DCU has just about something for everybody. Societies and clubs receive a lot of support from the university in terms of funding and availability of faculties that really helps their members get the maximum experience in their field of interest. For example the DCU Multimedia Society was voted Ireland's best student society while the Drama society's rendition of the musical Rent spent a week on show in the Olympia theatre in 2009.

For the sports conscious DCU has one of Ireland's best gyms and the motto sport for all is not just words. DCU houses the GAA academy and the men's team have won the Sigersen Cup many times. DCU has its own swimming pool, basketball courts and high performance gym and really has something to keep you fit in whatever way you feel like.

The campus and social life are reason enough to go to DCU in this humble reviewers opinion. But the academic standards also speak for themselves. For an institution that wasn't a full-fledged university until 1989 it is now in the top 300 in the world. Not a poor achievement for a 22 year old.

In summing up the DCU experience all I can say is that the days may be long but the years are too short. It's a choice you won't regret.

Are you an active member of any societies?

Yes

If yes, please name the societies

Debate and Law Society. Labour Society. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Society.

Are you a member of any sports clubs?

No

Are your training facilities easily accessible?

Yes

Are your training facilities easily accessible? - if no, why not?

Although not an active member of sports clubs I have never heard complaints from any of sporting friends about the accessibility of training facilities. As stated already DCU places a heavy emphasis on sport and has top class facilities (such as a high performance gym) available to those who excel at sport. With the wide proliferation of active sports clubs in DCU from tennis to badminton to basketball and the ubiquitous GAA training is frequent and complaints are few.

As a first year did you live in college halls?

Yes

Would you recommend living in college halls?

Living in Larkfield (DCU's first year accommodation) is an experience in itself. Sharing a two bedroom apartment (glorified bedsit in reality) is a great way to make a friend and meet people in the same scary boat whose sides we all grip in that first week of uni.

With frequent parties, friendly neighbours and popular common rooms Larkfield is the perfect social springboard to get settled into DCU. While the prospect of sharing a kitchenette and ensuite (generously described as a kitchen and bathroom) may not jump immediately off the page no one who has ever gone through Larkfield would trade that year away. While not the cheapest it is a great springboard to living in Dublin and dealing with the good times and bad of living with what starts out as a total stranger.

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