I am from Northern Ireland and I read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). I chose PPE because I have always had an interest in politics and history, even at a non-academic level, and then in school also came to love the study of economics. PPE then just seemed like a great fit, and especially because it continued to give me options for when I graduate as far as what job or industry to go into.
My favourite thing about Queen’s, apart from its central location which is brilliant, is probably the fact that it has a small feel to it. By relative number of students we’re not a small college but somehow I found us to feel like a small community. There’s not, as far as I can see, cliques of much of a divide between Queen’s students and I am so thankful for it.
Within the constraints of when they schedule your lectures and tutorials, your schedule is up to you entirely. I find that I am naturally someone who works better in the evening, but you have to also have the self-awareness to realise that you should still get up and meet the day at a reasonable time. For PPE, in first year at least, we would have up to six lectures a week because they seemed to front-load some lectures in the first term, but then it can be quieter in the following terms. As for tutorials, we got used to having three a week, and a piece of work; either an essay or problem sheet; to complete for each.
As someone who naturally had a great interest in many of my subjects I thought the tutorials were amazing. You get an opportunity, as a fresh-faced 18-year-old with no professional training in your field, to discuss these topics with a world-leading expert and have your own thoughts, and crucially, your questions taken seriously. Sometimes you are obviously put on the spot and have to think seriously but the stereotype about an imposing atmosphere or anything to be afraid of is not something I’ve ever come across here. Outside the academic side, there is such an array of things to get involved in and thankfully, while this can be quite full-on if you choose, you can come and go as you please from a lot of societies and clubs.
Advice for applicants
This is probably advice I wouldn’t have listened to when I was applying, but it is to not worry. As far as I can see, getting in is a question of admissions tutors spotting a natural interest in the subject; so you could talk about it and it wouldn’t sound forced. They can pick this up from your personal statement, primarily by demonstrating that you’re reading or taking stuff in in some way, and then eventually in an interview; not by knowing everything, but by having an appetite to learn more about something. The rest is window dressing, and if your passion for the subject is real and genuine then there’s little more to do other than apply that with a bit of thinking power.
As much as I love Queen’s, I didn’t choose it as my college of choice. After three years here I’ve learned that many people get shuffled around colleges and it doesn’t matter. I met some people who might want to change degrees or options within their courses, but no one who wants to change colleges. Somehow, even if you don’t get your choice, they find you the right place. I haven’t a clue how, but they’ve been doing it forever.