Having been affiliated with an institution where we had lecturers to teach us the entire course and guide us until the day of the examination, studying an entire course on my own was a whole new experience. It was a risk, because I was used to being pampered by lecturers not only delivering the syllabus but dealing with every single problem I had. However, I had a few options to select my fourth course from, and after skimming through their respective subject guides, Economic Geography seemed like the best and the most interesting option to me. Unfortunately, Economic Geography was a course that was not being taught at my institution, so I decided to take the risk and go ahead with it alone. I was scared, I have to admit. I had no idea how I would make myself study for it without any classes, and how the result would turn out to be.
From the time I decided to take up Economic Geography, to the day I sat for the Economic Geography exam, the months in between were a roller coaster ride. At the beginning of the academic year most students are, more or less, slack in studying on their own. I was no different; hence, apart from attending classes regularly, I would not touch my books when I would come home from taking classes during the day. (Disclaimer: the views just expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of every student and may not work for every student. On the contrary, I believe every student should keep in touch with their courses from the very beginning of the academic year, even if it is an hour a day of self-studying.)
After a month of slacking, I began studying for Economic Geography by reading from the subject guide, one chapter at a time. I read each chapter three times, over a span of a few weeks. The first reading is always like reading a story book, with no pressure of answering questions or going into much detail. The second reading is when you actually understand the content. And the third reading is when all that you have read starts getting settled into your mind. This does not just apply to Economic Geography, but to all courses of the UOLIP.
Once done with the reading from the subject guide, I moved on to the ‘Essential reading’ book ‘Economic Geography: A Contemporary Introduction by Coe, N.M., P.F. Kelly and H.W.C. Yeung (First edition, 2007)’ a very comprehensive book with detailed examples that are of tremendous use when attempting questions. Each chapter from the subject guide corresponds to 3-4 chapters from the book, as the book gives a greater insight into the course by touching upon various sub-topics of each topic, guided by examples from the real world. With three other technical courses to study for, it took me until January to complete the reading of the book and practice a few essay questions from the past examination papers.
All was well until I came across the latest edition of the same book ‘Economic Geography: A Contemporary Introduction by Coe, N.M., P.F. Kelly and H.W.C. Yeung (Second edition, 2013)’ at the end of February. Yes, three months away from the examinations. While this was a revised edition of the 2007 one, with the same concepts running throughout the book, it did have a lot of real world examples that were up-to-date and more relevant to today’s world. After all, in today’s world where globalization and technology are on the rise, a lot happens in six years. So ahead of me, I had an entire new book to read, and a lot more learning and remembering to do. Remembering the up-to-date examples (or if you are good at coming up with examples impromptu, that would come in useful when giving the exam) and being able to relate them to the content is vital to getting a good score in this course, and that was my point of focus for the next few weeks.
Thankfully, I had around five days to revise everything for the Economic Geography exam. And since it was my last exam, I did not have the burden of the other three courses on my shoulders. In these five days I went through the subject guide, the practice answers I had written and I just skimmed through some of the more important chapters of the revised edition. I still remember flipping through the subject guide while I was on my way to the examination hall in my car, out of fear of forgetting some important points. This course was the one whose result I was the most curious about, since I had done it all on my own, and I had no idea what lay ahead of me. I was pleased to know I managed to get a merit in Economic Geography!
All in all, Economic Geography is a very fascinating course, which is different than the mainstream economics that we usually study, as it helps in ‘analysing contemporary societies and economies’ and in applying our knowledge of the key theoretical approaches in economic geography to crucial issues in this globalising world. For someone like me, who is not very fond of entirely theoretical courses, this was one theoretical course that helped me view the world from a different perspective, and which is very relevant in today’s world. The key to preparing for this course is to understand all the core concepts (and of course, you will have to put in some effort in remembering these), reading up on lots of real-life and up-to-date examples and making sure to add these in your answers, and practicing the questions from past examination papers.
I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to go for something different yet relevant, and who does not mind reading a lot.
Zara is studying the BSc (Hons) Economics at a recognised teaching institution, University College of Islamabad (UCI), in Islamabad, Pakistan