Since my last post about my trip to London last summer, a year has passed by with the jolly Indian winters filled with music and preparation for the upcoming May examinations which will be crucial for me. A lot has happened in the world in the last four and a half months that is relevant to my studies, which I will write about in my next blog (hopefully really soon!). Similarly to some of my co-bloggers, it was a personal feeling that sharing some study techniques and addressing some study dilemmas may be of some assistance to me and may also help some of my fellow students. Sitting for a 100 course module, Contemporary Sociology in a Global Age, two 200 course modules, International Organisations and Foreign Policy Analysis, and a 300 course module, Security in International Relations, has turned out to be quite a challenge. A syllabus spanning 48 chapters where every line counts, exhaustive readings and a lot of writing has been no docile pet to tame and will certainly not be one when I take two consecutive exams on the 11th and 12th of May.
Being a bit of an old soul, the idea of transformative learning never appealed to me, and I in no way or form fit the profile of an autonomous learner. Instead, I always preferred to follow the directive of the typical white haired, corduroy blazer sporting, battered leather briefcase toting professorial figure. Under such guidance I was able to work feverishly towards adding an “outstanding” to my educational credentials. Hopefully satisfying my parents that I was indeed working towards someday generating a hefty return on the tuition fee investment they grudgingly funded.
However, when it came to doing a master’s, the exorbitant costs of studying and living abroad left me with no option but to pursue the distance learning route to achieve my educational goals. I spent several weeks researching and emailing dozens of universities – half of which I did not care to pursue on one pretext or the other, and the other half that deemed me academically or otherwise unworthy to enter their virtual realm. Finally, a combination of fate, and getting my foot in the door right before the entry deadline, landed me at the helm of the University of London. Through the distance learning MA in Education programme, I was able to finally become a student of the UoLIP, UCL AND IOE (now UCL Institute of Education), plus I got the coveted @ucl email address as a bonus.😇
It is not a secret that a challenging “Introduction to Economics” course by Amos Witztum might be a tough experience for aspiring economics students. This post addresses some of the strategies how to tackle the subject and provides concrete and practical advice on how to learn and, most importantly, understand the core material.
Over the last few weeks, I had some nice conversations with fellow students. The hottest topics turned out to be May’s exams and how to get prepared for them. In addition, some first-year students asked me about examiners’ commentaries and how to make best use of these. Therefore, I thought I’d post something on the Blog to share my views with a larger audience.
Well, we’ve got four months left before examinations. According to my year-wise objectives, this period marks a shift from short-term routine to mid-/long-term planning, which involves practice and perfection of acquired techniques until May. Now, we won’t necessarily agree on the best way to approach exams or when to start revising. However, we should at least concur on the following: practice with past exam papers should take most of our study time.
The University of London International Programmes (UoL) offers a programme which may not suit everyone, but anyone who embarks on the journey will probably never regret it. The International Programmes provides a model of affordable and prestigious education which is unique to the world: self-study education where you earn a recognised degree from an institution based in UK.
Having received two degrees in telecommunication science previous to my studies at UoL (one in Germany and one in Russia), I felt blessed to have the opportunity to study independently at one of the UK’s most prestigious universities. My motivation to study at the University was primarily driven by desire “to understand” economics which I somehow have always had. After research, it became apparent to me that only one institution in the world would satisfy my criteria of flexibility of online education, which could be combined with my daily job; quality control in form of direct examinations sat at examination centers globally; and depth of expertise – the UoL International programmes. And so there I was back in 2011 looking at my first study guides shipped to me by the UoL.
As a voracious reader, I often hit upon articles from subjects related to economics (e.g. sociology, finance, mathematics, and others) that stimulate my insane quest for knowledge. On the one hand, this is good as it expands our horizons and gets ourselves looking at problems from different perspectives. On the other, being an undergraduate student, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the ocean of amazing papers written by scholars from disparate universities around the globe. Indeed, the amount of literature we’re exposed to challenges one’s composure. On this basis, I deem it necessary to periodically reorganise my thoughts and objectives by writing down what my opinions are and what I’m looking for when studying.
As briefly touched on in August, EC2066 is part of my studies this year. Microeconomics is the branch of Economics studying how individuals take consumption and production decisions and how their interaction affects the economy, considering we live in a world of limited resources.
Despite such a (simplistic) general introduction, I’d like to tell you about a particular topic – embedded within the realm of Micro and Mathematical Economics – which I believe influences (whether explicitly or implicitly) our daily lives: Game Theory (from now on GT).
Some months ago, I watched a wonderful series on Aljazeera, called Marco Polo: a very modern journey. The tale is fascinating and addresses diverse (current) themes while Marco’s story flows in the background. It reminded me of another amazing series called The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson.While watching the adventures of the Venetian traveller, my train of thoughts wound the clocks back in time… Towards the XII century, a new profession was emerging within the medieval Italian city: the ‘merchant-banker’.
These bold entrepreneurs and travellers soon became sedentary and created companies in the major central and northern Italian communes, built on the ashes of the Roman Empire. Such commercial and financial organisations relied on a complex structure (considering the epoch): regular and fast correspondence, accurate accounting practices, bills of exchange, and articulated manuals on measures, currencies, and business customs of many regions of the world (here’s an example).
Suppose that you’ve always wanted to learn how to box. Having decided that you can put it off no longer, you join a boxing gym to begin your study of the sweet science. After a few weeks of instruction, you’ve learned some basic punches, some basic defenses and some basic footwork, and so your coach informs you that you’re now ready to begin sparring. You’re nervous, of course; but you’re also excited to have an opportunity to test your newfound skills. As you enter the ring, you don your headgear and glance at the opposing corner. Only then do you discover that your very first opponent is the reigning heavyweight champion of the world.
While a mismatch of that sort may be patently ridiculous in the context of learning how to box, it’s precisely what happens when you begin to study philosophy. Only the mismatch is in fact much worse. For in philosophy, your first opponents include not merely the best living philosophers; rather, they’re among the best philosophers of all time. So, after only a few weeks of philosophical training, you’re expected – indeed, strongly encouraged – to tell the likes of Plato and Descartes and Locke not only what you think they got right and wrong, but whether you think that their work in a particular area should be altered, improved, or abandoned altogether.
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high
Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’
So hush little baby, Don’t you cry
I was 11 years old when Alice Cooper’s anthemic rock classic School’s Out For Summer soared to number 1 in the UK charts and summers seemed considerably longer than they do these days… endless fishing trips to the local forest ponds, and only picnics and formless games of football seemed able to punctuate what was an otherwise seamless vista of possibility… And so I thought for what is in fact my eleventh blog on this wonderful blog site I would allow myself a similar degree of freedom just perhaps occasionally dipping my toe into the lake to share with you some of the highlights of what has been a really wonderful summer scattered with some occasional reflections on time and possibility.