UoL study guides have a soul!

IMG_0162Life seldom runs like a Rolls Royce on the highway, giving us enough reasons to brood over rather than smile. Since my last post, we have moved on to the next year. So my best wishes to everybody on a new year, I know it’s not that new. This interim of six months has been both good and not so good. Results of my chartered accountancy examinations have been out. Well they have been as per my expectations, though a disappointing one indeed. The sunny side of it has been reading International Relations as a programme of study.

A highly dynamic and vibrant arena, one has to keep abreast of all the latest happenings. Be it the Ukraine crisis, the increasing hostilities between Russia and the West, the unending problems in the Middle East, the brutalities of international terror or the falling price of oil. It covers a spectrum from war to economics to healthcare to diplomacy and more, the centre of which have been human beings- the individual, the basis of human society. This is to say that studying IR as a subject is miles away from keeping a stale stock of current affairs news.

From an IR perspective, one needs to establish links and connect those links to the theories that are being taught to us. Mentioning about ‘being taught to us’, I would love to share my opinions about the study experience that I have had so far. As an independent student, it is not that I felt desolate and quite insecure to gobble up the heap of readings that we have been given. It is lately that I feel to be coming to terms with the soul of the International Programmes.

All it depends upon is the perception of the reader. Reading the study guides as dead text could surmount to more disappointment rather than enlightening the person. The specialty of the UoL subject guides is that they are not texts at all! Changing the tone of reading the guides changes the experience dramatically. For this, one requires a bit of imaginative power and voice modulation. Now, without holding the idea of what I would like to say anymore, what I have been doing is a bit of swapping of roles. To be a student, one needs to turn into a lecturer or a teacher, to teach none but himself!

For a bit of demonstration, let me take up the 3rd chapter of the study guide for the module ‘International Political Economy’ which is ‘Classical liberalism and neo-liberalism’. The learning outcomes of the guide mentions, “By the end of this chapter and having completed the Essential readings and activities, you should be able to: describe the core tenets of classical liberalism and liberal political economy” which goes in a similar fashion. In straightforward terms where it differs from stereotyped ‘books’ is that our subject guides have been written in an active voice rather than in arduous and scholastic language. I have started thinking of the subject guides as not ‘study materials’ but the voices of our revered professors and authors in printed form! Though it may seem a bit weird, listening to any lecture of the author makes the visualizing seamless. Growing this level of intimacy has not been as easy (or rather, impossible) with the other books that are up for sale, no matter if they are wonderful pieces of research and thought.

This is what I have devised and wanted to share with all my fellow students. Especially independent ones like me who are finding it a bit vague to study in the direct absence of a teacher. I say direct absence as I feel it is what the study guides are for – to plug this gap. Having adopted this approach, things are smoother and I hope I would deliver it on the answer sheet as I would love to.

Best of luck!



Budhaditya is transferring from the BSc Accounting and Finance to the BSc International Relations. He is studying by distance learning in Kolkata, India.

4 Responses to UoL study guides have a soul!

  1. Stephen Andrews says:

    I frequently read and record chapters from my varous study guides, which gives a completely different feel to them and use the sound recordings on my phone or ipod as constant refreshers whilst commuting.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Budhaditya, this is very true, very inspiring!

  3. Alma Aguas says:

    Thank you, Budhaditya, this is very true, very inspiring!

  4. Anonymous says:

    well said!

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