(Not) Starting the PhD and UG Module Fair

Despite being back in Newcastle for a week now, it doesn’t really feel like I’ve got started yet. This might be an obvious statement, few people go flying into the start of a PhD project, but it is nonetheless a weird feeling to have. I haven’t even received the feedback from the MA dissertation I completed at the end of August, which was essentially a ‘trial-run’ of different methods and ideas that can be taken forward into the PhD. So to a certain extent I should chill out about it and let this ‘induction’ period run its course, wait for my first meeting in a week or so with my supervisors, do some related reading etc. But that is easier said than done. For me, not having closure on the last academic year makes it difficult to mentally ‘move on’ into the next one.

One event that did keep me busy (excluding induction events and the coverage of the party conference season, always an interesting time for British politics geeks such as myself) was working at the GPS (School of Geography, Politics and Sociology) table at the undergraduate’s module fair last Wednesday. My role was essentially as the spokesperson for the Politics modules that the school allows students from outside GPS to take to make up their credits. Although by the end of the three hours I had certainly had enough of explaining what each of six different modules consists of over and over again, I certainly did enjoy talking to so many enthusiastic and interested first year UG students. The majority of those I spoke to seemed very keen to listen and learn about what knowledge and skills they could gain from taking Politics modules. It was a refreshing experience.

P.S. One last plug for the fantastic video that the Politics department produced on why people should come to Newcastle University to study politics. Watch it HERE.

Douglas Carswell (and His Face)

To celebrate finishing my MA Politics (Research) degree today I have collected a sample of pictures of Douglas Carswell MP with different looks on his face. Mr Carswell (who is an MP I admire for his independence and positions on the rights of Parliament and backbench MPs) left the Conservative Party yesterday and joined UKIP, mostly over the parties position on Europe, triggering a by-election in Clacton for later this year. This created a great deal of public comment online, on TV and on the radio from Conservative MPs talking about Europe and the UK-EU relationship. This, unhelpfully, took place the day before my dissertation was due in, already pretty much done. This was based on, er, the public comment of Conservative MPs in relation to European integration. Thanks Doug.

I have  inserted an ‘odd-one-out’ into the line up. See if you can get it. Answers on a postcard.

Also check out this video on why you should come to Newcastle University to study politics. It’s rather good.


DC 1


DC 4





DC 3

The View from 32 in Review, or A Jaunty Look at Year One



After relentless pressure from my fellow postgraduate politics blogger, and academic social media guru, Craig Johnson (his blog is awfully good, and he counts all the views so please give him a read), I’ve decided to write a summary of my first year here at Newcastle (Whaaa what? First year? See bio for details). Hopefully this will give you a feel for what it is like taking that step up to masters level, especially one which is focused on research methods/training (MA Politics Research). Or maybe it won’t. Mostly though, it will be a reflection on my own personal experience as, if we are honest, you can’t ever really know that you can do something (or will enjoy it) unless you try it first (MA Politics degrees at Newcastle University: Don’t delay, sign up today!). I’ll then finish it off by explaining what I’m working on for my dissertation and how it is shaping up so far. I’ve tried to inject this with humour, but if you don’t get it, well, that really is a sad state of affairs. So…


Firstly, from the beginning I’ve tried to be more involved in departmental and school activities at Newcastle than I ever had before at Sussex or Leeds. At Sussex and Leeds, especially Sussex, if I am honest I was quite lazy with taking part in things outside of my immediate friends or my own degree.  This time I decided to go with this rule: If an opportunity came up, try and think ‘Why not?’ rather than look for an excuse to only concentrate on my own work or stay in and watch documentaries about John Major on Youtube. Unless it was an invitation to watch a circa-1960’s, subtitled, 3-hour black and white film about Scandinavian fishing communities. Then, like before, I would still say no.


This of course has meant taking on the role of updating this blog as a postgraduate ambassador for the Politics department, working at the Postgraduate Open Day and speaking at a small event for potential new Politics MA students. I also decided to take on the role of Postgraduate Taught School Rep, representing fellow PGTs in Geography, Politics and Sociology at both a school and faculty level. This has meant going to plenty of meetings, but they are often a lot more interesting than you would think and I have enjoyed getting my own, and other PGs, views across (most people who do politics have an opinion about pretty much everything, and I am certainly no exception to this particular rule, which helps).


I’m going to take up the role of PGR School Rep in October, after I was the unanimous choice of the two people who decide these things. Granted, I was the only person that applied, but in this world of strife and tumult, one should take the victories when they come. Questions/comments about the lack of democratic legitimacy in this selection process can be left in the comments section, where I will ignore them.


Starting out on the MA Politics Research, it was interesting to discover that out of the four people in the introductory meeting, only myself and one other PG were full-timers. The third was a part-timer called Mike. The forth an Erasmus student who had got confused and had wondered into entirely the wrong meeting, never to be seen again. Not to say that she completely disappeared, though I have no evidence to the contrary.


Doing the Politics Research programme you actually spend very little time in the ‘Politics’ department with other politics postgrads, with most time spent in the faculty research training facilities with PhDers. This would often result in encounters with other non-research oriented MA students going like this:


MA student: I’ve not seen you in any modules, which ones do you do?


Me: Well, I don’t really do any of the politics modules; they are all mandatory HaSS modules on my programme….


MA student: What exactly do you do then?


Me: Um, well, at the moment I’m just finished introduction to quantitative metho…


MA student: Oh god, that sounds boring. I hate maths.


Me: I have to go now.


This could often be frustrating sometimes, as you don’t get to spend much time with other politics PGs in ‘work hours’. However what you miss out in this context, you make up with by how much you learn and progress in your research skills. That is, at the end of the day, why you do this specific programme and not a general one. A year on, I feel I have a much greater idea of what being a researcher means, and the process you go through doing it. I have a huge amount more to learn, but slowly, I hope, I’m getting better at it all the time. Yes.


I’ve also been pleased to have the opportunity to work on a side-project with one of my supervisors on behalf of the PSA, surrounding the teaching of transferable skills in UG university politics courses. Hopefully that will progress in the coming academic year.


I’m also currently well into the writing up phase of my dissertation, which is using a quantitative content analysis approach to map/measure the ideological cleavages and attitudes towards European integration amongst the current groupings of Conservative MPs/MEPs, using my own data set. It is certainly a challenge, and we will have to wait and see how it turns out, but nonetheless a challenge I’m enjoying.


After that it is on to start the PhD in October.


Thanks for reading.



P.S. Look out for another exciting edition of ‘The View from 32 Book Club’ coming soon. In about 250 pages when I finish the next one.

P.P.S. I will try to do better blogs from the autumn. Perhaps.

The Tories: From Winston Churchill to David Cameron by Timothy Heppell

The Tories


Another book recommendation, this time from my old personal tutor at Leeds University, Dr Timothy Heppell. Tim is one of the leading scholars working on British party politics at the moment, and a real expert on the politics and history of the Conservative Party.

He was also extremely helpful and friendly to me when I was working on my application for the Hugh Berrington Scholarship. In fact it was he who recommended Newcastle University to me in the first place, as he also completed his PhD here . A top tip for anyone considering applying for research funding for a MA or PhD: go and speak to your personal tutor! It seems so obvious, but I’m constantly amazed by people who don’t see it as the first step. These are the people that know what it takes to be successful in the application process. They are also some of the best people to talk to about what subject really interests you, one enough to dedicate 4 to 3 years researching on.

Anyway, here is the books blurb:

‘This book offers a comprehensive and accessible study of the electoral strategies, governing approaches and ideological thought of the British Conservative Party from Winston Churchill to David Cameron. Timothy Heppell integrates a chronological narrative with theoretical evaluation, examining the interplay between the ideology of Conservatism and the political practice of the Conservative Party both in government and in opposition. He considers the ethos of the Party within the context of statecraft theory, looking at the art of winning elections and of governing competently.

The book opens with an examination ofthe triumph and subsequent degeneration of one-nation Conservatism in the 1945 to 1965 period,and closes with an analysis of the party’s re-entry into government as a coalition with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, and of the developing ideology and approach of the Cameron-led Tory party in government.’

It’s a very enjoyable read and a well written book, so I would recommend it to anyone interested in the history and politics of the Conservative Party, or British politics in general. It’s also quite short and to the point (hooray!).

Postgraduate Politics at Newcastle University



Last week, myself and another postgraduate attended a ‘Twilight Session’ for those interested in politics MA study at Newcastle. This was lead by a presentation from Dr Simon Philpott (a Senior Lecturer in International Politics and MA Politics Programme Director). Both Veronica and myself then gave a short, informal talk on are own experience of postgraduate politics at Newcastle.

I thought it might be useful for anyone reading this blog, who might be thinking of coming to Newcastle to study for a politics MA, to layout all the reasons myself, Veronica and Simon gave at the talk for why Newcastle University is your best choice for postgraduate politics in the UK.

  • Wide range of eight different MA pathways, specialising in international politics. Newcastle also offers the MA Politics (Research) pathway, designed specifically for those looking to gain the research skills needed to make the step up to PhD level in the future.
  • Specialised PG modules, lots of flexibility on choice from across the humanities and social science PG modules at Newcastle. Create the postgraduate degree you want to do.
  • PG politics at Newcastle is committed to stimulating small group teaching, meaning no massive seminars that stop you from expressing yourself and discussing ideas.
  • Personal and friendly tutor-student relationship.
  • Staff are engaging, very motivated and always welcoming to PGs who want to come and discuss their work. They are also experts and leading researchers in their fields of study.
  • Excellent library resources. The main library for politics is right next door to the Politics building, so very easy access.
  • Active postgraduate community: Politics Postgraduate Society, Film Night, outside-speaker seminar series, student representation opportunities (represent your course or school at senior level meetings).
  •  Newcastle is consistently ranked within the Top 20 Universities list in the UK (Russell Group University).
  • Newcastle as city is also a fantastic city to live in: affordable, greate range of cultural and social experiences, excellent transport links with Newcastle International Airport and Newcastle Central Station (direct trains to London, Manchester, Edinburgh).

PG Politics at Newcastle is a fantastic and rewarding experience. So if you have read this blog post and you think Newcastle might be for you; don’t delay, apply today!

The Europe Dilemma: Britain and the Drama of EU Integration by Roger Liddle

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This is an excellent new book on British politics and Europe which I finished last week. Roger Liddle was Tony Blair’s special adviser on European Policy between 1997 and 2004. The book is a fascinating and stimulating account of the real nature of Blair’s Europeanism and approach to European policy making during the New Labour years, as well as a passionate argument for Britains continuted relationship with Europe and ways in which this can be improved and developed. For my own direct research interests, Liddle also has a short section on Cameron’s approach to Europe under the coaltion, but most of the book is dedicated to the process of European integration under New Labour and how the European Union should be reformed in the future. If you are interested in the recent debates surrounding British politics and European integration, this is a very good place to start. I’m going to write a short review of it for Political Studies Review, which I’ll link to on here when it is up.


Other places to read/buy this book are probably available. Though perhaps for not much longer.

Book Review: Britain and the European Union by Andrew Geddes

Example of a piece of work from the MA this year. Might be of interest to those interested in the politics of Britian and the European Union. Good book, very insightful.


In Britain and the European Union (2013), Andrew Geddes attempts to explain and analyse the complex political and economic relationship that has developed between Britain and the ‘European project’ since the post-Second World War period. Geddes directs this analysis through two principal themes; ‘Britain in Europe’ and ‘Europe in Britain’, the former scrutinising Britain’s relations with Europe and British governments role in shaping European institutions, the latter the extent to which Europe has become integrated with Britain’s internal political system and processes (2013:12-16). As a means of developing these themes, Geddes provides an analysis of a wide range of aspects of Britain and European integration, for example Britain and the EU decision-making process; Britain and Core EU Policies; Britain and EU High Politics and the British state and European integration, to name only the central focuses.

This is achieved by Geddes through a historical institutionalist approach (2013:8-11). This conceptual framework attempts to explain political processes, such as European institutional integration, through a focus on the institutions in which they take place and the choices that political actors make within them (Steinmo et al, 1999:2). For Geddes, the reason for Britain’s integration with Europe ‘must lie within the actions and preferences of political actors within the British political system and the effects of these actions, whether intended or not’ (2013:8). It is this choice of historical institutionalism (HI) as an approach (from which Geddes analyses the integration of Britain within the EU), that will form the main focus of this short critical review. Other themes such as the rise of British euroscepticism, the argument of Britain as an ‘awkward’ or ‘reluctant’ participant in Europe, and its development as major policy issue within political parties in recent history have all been extensively covered elsewhere (see Aspinwall, 2004; George, 1998; Gowland and Turner, 1999; Gowland, et al. 2009; Forster, 2012; Wall, 2008) and will not be done so again here.

The conceptual approach taken by Geddes is the most interesting aspect of the book, and will therefore be focused upon in depth. While there are considerable strengths in the historical institutionalist approach to European integration used by Geddes, I will challenge this by arguing that a social constructivist approach is an equally important methodological tool for understanding the political process behind European integration, drawing support from the relevant literature where necessary to support my argument. As Checkel has argued (1999:545), social constructivism has not been given the attention by integration scholars it perhaps deserves, with institutionalist accounts (in this case, the historical strand) dominating.

Before proceeding, however, it is important to place this book in context with the authors other work. This book is a development of the authors previous book, The European Union and British Politics (2003), and has subsequently been cited over 80 times by other scholars (Google Scholar, 2014) and is considered an important contribution to the literature on European integration. Geddes work has focused on the politics of European integration, British relations with the European Union (EU), comparative European politics and international migration. This is therefore a significant contribution on European integration theory and should be carefully considered by students and academics.

Historical Institutionalism, Social Construction and European Integration

HI, as suggested by Geddes in the book, places importance on ‘the way in which decisions made at particular points in time and for particular reasons can become locked-in and difficult to change’ (2013:8). Importance, in relation to European integration and Britain, is placed on the ‘value of historical perspectives’ and decisions made in the 1950’s and 1960’s (or during any period crucial to European integration) which have fundamentally shaped the ‘path dependence’ of integration for European states like Britain (Geddes, 2013: 8-9). As Pierson (1996: 126) argues, political development is a process that emerges over time and is therefore inherently historical. It is also institutionalist because many of the consequences of these political processes emanate from institutions, for example the UK Parliament, the Treasury, European Commission, or the Council of Ministers, be they in the form of ‘formal rules, policy structures or norms’ (Pierson, 1996: 126). Historical institutionalist analysis focuses on the ways in which institutions ‘constrain and refract’ and ‘shape both the strategies and goals of political actors (Fairbass and Jordan, 2001:7 as cited in Geddes, 2013:9). As argued by Geddes in the book (2013:9), Britain’s decision not to participate in the European Steal and Coal Community (ESCC) and the European Economic Community (EEC) in the 1950’s, is a classic example of the importance of previous historical decision making ( by actors from within institutions) to contemporary political process between the EU states today. For HI therefore, institutions primarily ‘constrain and refract politics, but they are never the sole cause of outcomes’ (Thelen and Steinmo, 1992:3).

This is the central HI argument Geddes takes to Britain and European integration in this book; that past decisions in history by political actors have become entrenched within institutions, therefore constraining the possibilities for future policy change within those very institutions in the present day. For example, Gordon Brown and the Treasury’s decision to block Britain joining the euro in the late 1990’s, against the wishes of Tony Blair, fundamentally altered the future options and preferences for political actors in the EU from Britain (Geddes, 2013: 98-90, 183-85). This view of the development of European integration since 1945, while persuasive and a valuable contribution to the debate, is not without its critics and is but one way of theorising the political process of integration. This interpretation of institutions ‘comes at a cost’; chiefly in the way in which it denies institutions a constitutive role in politics (Checkel, 1999: 547). Its value as an explanatory tool of European integration therefore has limits, which are reflected in Geddes book and choice of HI as an approach. Social constructivism, it can be argued, also has much to contribute to the debate on European integration for states such as Britain, providing insights that a HI perspective misses (Checkel, 1999; Christiansen, et al. 1999) For Checkel, a ‘more sociological understanding of institutions’ is needed that ‘stresses their interest and identity forming roles’, as well as the possibilities for social learning and normative diffusion that institutions facilitate at the European level (1999: 545-6).

However, while Geddes emphasises the HI approach he uses to frame his analysis of Britain and European integration at the beginning of Britain and the European Union, it can be argued that at many times the text acknowledges the part social construction has played in the Europeanization of the British political system. For example, in his description of the British state and European integration in Chapter 8, Geddes states that policy areas with direct contact with the EU, such as agricultural and trade policy, have become more ‘Europeanized’ than others such as home affairs where direct contact is much less, but growing (2013:217). This example points to European integration as a process of gradual socialisation, of norm diffusion, where political actors from Britain are exposed and interact with the ideas and patterns of behaviour within EU institutions therefore become more Europeanized, more integrated.

A further example, in relation to the British state, is that of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The FCO is arguably the most pro-EU of British state institutions, due largely to its search for a purpose following the end of the British Empire, the lead it took in accession negotiations to the European Community in the 1960s and 70s, as well as the direct contact it has, both domestically and in Brussels, with EU political actors and institutions (Marsh, et al. 2001:215 as cited in Geddes, 2013: 201). Social constructivism therefore contributes to the understanding of how the collective understandings and identities of European integration have contributed to the Europeanization of British institutions, like the FCO. As Aspinwall and Schneider (2003:5) have pointed out, there is often a lot of crossover between the ‘new institutionalisms’, in this case between theorists of the historical and sociological strands: the former concentrating on the ‘long-term effects of specific (possibly rational) decisions’, the latter with the ‘long-term institutional effects’ of interaction between political actors (2003:5). Elements of both of these are evident in Geddes analysis, which is to the books credit.

Concluding Comments

In this book, Geddes has written a strong explanation of why a country that often seems so hostile to European integration, Britain, has become quite so Europeanized in terms of its political processes and institutions. In the limited space available, this review decided to concentrate on the epistemological underpinning of Geddes analysis; historical institutionalism, and contrast it with a sociological interpretation of European integration provided by social constructivism.  By all accounts, Checkel is right when he states that ‘each school [historical institutionalism and social constructivism] explains important elements of the integration process; working together, or at least side-by-side, they will more fully capture the range of institutional dynamics at work in contemporary Europe’ (1999:546). Geddes emphasis on the importance of long-term historical decision making on the present, and future, of British political and European integration, through seminal events such the decision not to participate in the formation of the ESCC and EEC in the 1950’s and the UK Treasury and Chancellor Gordon Browns reject of the euro in the late 1990’s, certainly goes a considerable way to capturing a sense of the institutional dynamics at work in European integration.

Also, and then if not explicitly, implicitly, Geddes also recognises the contribution a sociological interpretation of European integration can bring; through a greater understanding of how the development and spread of European political ideas, identities, behaviours and norms have been formed through the social interaction of political actors, producing the institutions of the EU we have today. This book is a welcome contribution to the debate, though further conceptual work on EU integration is clearly required for a fuller understanding.




  • Aspinwall, M and Schneider, G. (2000). ‘Same Menu, Separate Tables: The Institutionalist Turn in Political Science and the Study of European Integration’, European Journal of Political Research, 38(1), 1–36.


  • Aspinwall, M. (2004). Rethinking Britain and Europe: Plurality Elections, Party Management and British Policy on European Integration, (Manchester University Press).


  • Checkel, J T. (1999). ‘Social Construction and Integration’. Journal of European Public Policy, 6(4), 545-560.


  • Christiansen, T., Jorgensen, K. E., & Wiener, A. (1999). ‘The Social Construction of Europe’. Journal of European Public Policy, 6(4), 528-544.


  • Forster, A. (2002). Euroscepticism in Contemporary British Politics: Opposition to Europe in the Conservative and Labour Parties since 1945. (Psychology Press)


  • Geddes, A. (2003). The European Union and British Politics. (London: Palgrave Macmillan).


  • Geddes, A. (2013) Britain and the European Union (London: Palgrave Macmillan).


  • George, S. (1998). An Awkward Partner: Britain in the European Community (Oxford University Press).


  • Gowland, D, Turner, A and Wright, A. (2009). Britain and European Integration since 1945: On the Sidelines. (London: Routledge).


  • Gowland, D and Turner, A. (1999). Reluctant Europeans: Britain and European Integration, 1945-96. (Longman).


  • Marsh, D, Richards, D and Smith, M. (2001) Changing Patterns of Governance in the UK: Reinventing Whitehall? (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).


  • Pierson, P. (1996). ‘The Path to European Integration A Historical Institutionalist Analysis’. Comparative Political Studies, 29(2), 123-163.


  • Steinmo, S and Thelen, K. (1992). ‘Historical Institutionalism and Comparative Politics’ in Steinmo, S, Thelen, K, and Longstreth, F. (Eds.). Structuring Politics: Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Analysis. (Cambridge University Press).


Multivariate Aggression


From my experience, one of the few utterances that creates more anxiety amongst undergraduates and postgraduates (even more than ‘theory-based’), are the words ‘quantitative methods’. I imagine that for many politics students (and dare I say, some academics), this phrase sends people hurtling back in time to dark and intimidating school classrooms, where statistics and maths were only something to suffered through until lunchtime or that interesting history class. Figuratively speaking, of course. Time travel as I write this is still impossible. I can say all this, as this was probably me a few months ago. I have however now seen the light, and quantitative methods and statistics no longer worry me in the same way. You might say I am a recovering ‘quantophobe’. You might also say that is stupid and I should go and do some proper work. Fair enough.

  • This aside, here are a few observations I have about learning quantitative methods and statistical techniques over the last few months:If you are worried that you disliked or even hated maths at school, or that it has been years and years since you last learned about statistics, or that you need an A at A-Level to even begin to understand how to use quantitative methods in your UG or PG dissertations, my answer is this: don’t be. The basics of interpreting and analyzing quantitative data through statistical software such as SPSS are not massively complicated, though they do get more difficult the more advanced you go. If I can learn and understand them, then anyone can. What are needed is patience and a willing to learn and understand. If you bring them to any quantitative methods training, you are already half way there.
  • The more you understand the maths behind the statistics the better, but this is not vital to learning how to use and interpret statistical techniques, such as crosstabulations, analysis of variance or Pearson’s r correlation, successfully. Many researchers and academics that use quantitative methods in their work will probably only have limited knowledge of the complex maths behind each statistical technique they use. This doesn’t mean they don’t know how to use they correctly, and importantly, effectively.
  • Once you allow yourself to become submerged in all the quantitative techniques and language, you will more than likely start to identify how they could be utilised to support conclusions, investigate problems or answer questions in your own research. Statistics are powerful tools as they in allow researchers to come to more inferential based conclusions and knowledge claims, to support but importantly not necessarily to supersede qualitative evidence.

I suppose the message of this post is don’t be scared of quantitative methods! If you are working on the early stages of a politics dissertation, undergrad or postgrad, or a future research proposal, I would seriously suggest exploring how quantitative methods could help boost the robustness of your research and the conclusions it draws. Using quantitative methods may not be suitable for your research, and this is fine. But if you’re aware that people have used them in the past, within a similar study, I would explore the possibilities. You’ve got nothing to lose, and potentially, everything to gain.

P.S. ‘Multivariate Aggression’ was my contribution to a recent discussion about quantitative methods sounding band names. I thought it was a rather good effort. You are allowed to disagree.

P.P.S. Alternative title for this blog post was ‘Taking the Quant-um Leap”. It has perhaps, as they say, been done.

So, you want to be an MP then? Politics Degrees and Transferable Skills.

If, like me, you have studied politics at university and been asked this question before (more than likely, many times before), you and I will probably share a deep sense of frustration at the assumption behind the question; that the only possible reason you would take politics at university, as an undergraduate or postgraduate, is if you wanted to have a career as an MP or work in Parliament in someway. I could insert a joke here about what it is really like being a Member of Parliament these days, but I would like some of them to talk to me one day, so I had better leave it. Of course it is certainly true that many people who take politics degrees do go on to work in Parliament in some form. But this is not the aim or desire of every politics undergraduate, and neither should it be.

While many people asking this question have, naturally, only polite intentions, it does mask an underlying problem with how politics degrees are seen by those that take them at university, by society as a whole, and by some departments that ‘sell’ them to would be students. The perception is this: that after taking politics at university you will leave with a large amount of knowledge about specific political topics and concepts, such as the British electoral system, the nature of Middle East political culture and..…well..…that’s about it. Students, often undergraduates, get stuck and start looking at the floor. The perception often is that a politics degree will give you the edge in debates on the hot current affairs issues of the day down the pub, but not much else. At least, nothing that will help establishing a career after university finishes.

Many of us know that this is far from the case (research skills, quantitative skills, writing skills, presentational skills, to name only a few of the most obvious ones), but what are politics departments doing to explain to students the many transferable skills that a politics degree can bring? What creative teaching and assessment methods are being used that could introduce new key skills to politics modules, the type of key skills valued by many employers? What more could be done to incorporate more key skills into modules and better promote them to the potential politics students of the future?

It is answers to these questions and more that is the aim of a project I am assisting on at the moment, under the lead and direction of Senior Politics lecturer at Newcastle, Dr Alistair Clark. My current role is the formation of a data set of the transferable and/or skills advertised by UK universities (that offer politics, political studies or politics and IR as an undergraduate degree) as being taught through current (2013-14) politics modules. This requires a detailed examination of all the departmental websites that offer a breakdown of the content, teaching, and assessment methods used on their undergraduate politics modules. This is in its formative stages, so it isn’t possible to go into a great amount of detail here.

Of course, the great irony for me assisting on a research project such as this, about transferable skills and undergraduate politics degrees, are the key research skills that I will personally start to develop. From data collecting and analysis, to going through the research planning and writing up process, there are many opportunities for me to develop key research skills that I can use in the future. It is to the great credit of the academic community at Newcastle that those starting out on their postgraduate research careers, like me, are included on projects such as these.