Social & Political Sciences
2006 (deferred entry)
Independent – selective
(A at AS (271 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)
(A at AS (280 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)
(A at AS (293 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)
(A at AS (246 UMS); predicted A; gained NA at A2)
I am also taking ASs in Photography and Perspectives on Science, which aren’t listed.
Offer from LSE for government – very very happy 🙂
Decisions about the application
Prestige and reputation, partly to prove myself to myself and others, to be around motivated and intelligent people, liked the tutorial system.
At first I wanted to do PPE at Oxford but I am no good at maths and thus my school really encouraged me to go to SPS instead, which I did reluctantly at first, but then I realised that it actually is the perfect course for me.
Lets me continue politics to degree level and look at issues that affect society from different angles. I read Small Places, Large issues in preparation and have really developed an interest in Anthropology since. Interested in Psychology and Sociology too, why people make decisions, role of the media etc.
If I was left to my own devices I would have chosen Kings, but chose Jesus because my school pushed me to (it’s the only college they had recent success with getting someone in for SPS, and she had a first). Though I definitely do not regret applying, it is a very nice college and very good for SPS!
They arranged for Oxbridge applications to come round for a day and hold talks and do mock interviews. Absolutely Useless, they were just telling us common sense, and the mock interviews were hardly professsional. Didn’t have any mock interviews from teachers, etc. To be honest, I was shocked at how little support I was given.
Prepare answers to all the obvious questions, especially why you want to study SPS. If you want to apply to Jesus college prepare answers to the questions I was asked as they seem to reoccur. Practise arguing a stance.
On the website it says that Jesus College will not request any written work, this is wrong. They send you a form with their invitation to interview, or at least they did with me. My written work wasn’t especially good, but that’s because I had no forewarning and little time. If you’re considering applying, do written work as everyone else just in case.
I think I did reasonably well, though when I left I had the feeling that I wouldnt’ve done well enough to outperform 5 others.
I had two interviews, both of them academic based. The only general question I was asked (by both Thompson and Mottier) was to elaborate on me being from Ukraine. If you did poiltics at A-level, you can expect your interviews to be almost exclusively on political issues and philosophy.
– So you’re from Ukraine, tell us about that. – I told him where I lived, etc, he asked a few follow up questions such as why did I move around so much, I said because my mother is a banker. He then asked what my father is and I said they divorced when I was little, and he seemed exceedingly surprised at that, then said it must’ve been very difficult to which I said no.
– “So you did very well in your exams”, basically prompting me to explain why I got a C in one of my politics modules, so I did, he didn’t really seem to care.
– “Ok I understand you haven’t done much political philosophy before, but tell us about Marx.” Most of the interview was about Marxism, he asked questions such as “why is the capitalism system exploitative”, “what are Marx’s strongest and weakest points”, and a lot of follow-up questions. He will argue with you, keep your stance, I gave up once which was a mistake.
– “Are nation-states becoming weaker nowadays”, I said no because nationalism is stronger because due to globalisation we can define ourselves better among others, he basically summarised and repeated my point, then did a sort of “bah, how mediocre” face.
Before Thompson asked more questions he always said “ok, let’s look at this from a slightly different angle” in the kind of voice someone might say “you’re just not getting it are you”. This made me feel rather stupid.
Mottier: Very nice woman, has an accent, asked quite a few open-ended questions, all of them very different. She didn’t follow up, I found her interview harder because you had more opportunity to mess up. She asked me:
– Tell me a contemporary issue you can apply the disciplines of SPS to (I said terrorism, which was a mistake, she kept pushing me and I really didn’t say anything insightful)
– In companies there is a glass ceiling, how would you encourage more women to be in power? I mentioned how I’m against all-women sortlists, she followed up on that.
– Define Globalisation, good and bad points
– Define Democracy, how can it be said it doesn’t work? (I talked about democratic deficits in the US and UK)
– Tell me about different electoral systems and their democratic value and what sports you do. – Bizarre question I talked about FPTP system and Germany’s AMS, then said: Did you ask me what Sports I do? To which she nodded, and I said basketball, then a pause followed. In hindsight I should have taken that as a prompt to talk about my general interests.
I felt that her interview was a lot more asking for factual knowledge rather than arguing ability, she will push you to come up with more examples, and will let you finish. Think before you speak.
All in all: Interviews went ok, I felt at first that I had done worse with Thompson because he argued so much against me but in hindsight Mottier was worse because she was very nice and her questions seemed easy but because she didn’t follow up some things I could have said I just didn’t think of.
I wore black trousers and a Brown V-neck pullover with a diamond pattern on the front – wanted to be formal but not too formal. There were a few people wearing suits at the interview day but they either clearly looked overdone or were just weird. Most people came in black trousers and something else, or normal casual clothing.
When I visited it on my own I got the impression it was somewhat small and all the students looked distinctly unstylish and “I don’t have a life”, but on the interview day I met a lot of other students who were actually really cool, one of them took me to my interview, and I spoke to his boyfriend on an internet board a week later, so I think on balance the college is nice. Food is ok, weird arrangements re dining rooms though, there are several of them. In summary, I really do like the college.
I didn’t pick the most fortunate choice, some kind of sticky rice with spicy cucumber stuff, but it tasted good in the sense that it was better quality than what we’d get in boarding school, and the other food looked good. Veggie options available.
Mottier exceedingly nice, Thompson quite scary.
Weird feeling of both expecting an acceptance and rejection, pool would be the worst option as it would prolong things.. Counting down the days and doing absolutely nothing for about 2 weeks just waiting, so I could then plan what’s next. I wasn’t really scared of being rejected for myself, as LSE is a very good alternative, but really wanted to prove myself by being able to get in.
It was flimsy and broken, knew it was a rejection straight away. Didn’t really mind, just got on with it.. the bad part was coming back to school with everyone asking me so did you get in in the kind of way you do when you know they did -_-. I’ve cried about it once and considered reapplying a few times, but on balance I feel that I’ll be happy enough in London 🙂
Yes, but for a different college, I would start preparing earlier and listen to my school yes.
Start doing your reading before your summer holidays or best yet, during your lower sixth year, not 2 weeks in advance like me.