Advice and tips prior to starting your course

by Aaron Price

Hi! I’m Aaron, a second-year Politics, Philosophy and Economics student. I’m really enjoying my time at university, and I’d like to share some advice about starting your course.

Make sure you’re interested!

As obvious as this may sound, it’s important to ensure that you are fully interested in the subject you’ll be studying.

Before coming to university, I was absolutely sure I wanted to study at Lancaster University. I applied to study English Literature as my degree subject, as I was studying A-level English Literature at the time and thought I had an interest and talent for the subject. However, as the months leading up to the start of University passed, my keen interest for English Literature did too.

I wanted to carry on studying some elements I found interesting in English Literature - such as evaluating and analysing ideas and concepts. However, I wanted to study a degree subject that concerned the realities of the world we live in rather than focus on predominately fiction-based work. After essentially doing some soul-searching, I decided I would be better suited to study a different course. As well as studying Economics and Politics at A-level, I also had a real interest in debating philosophy as a hobby. I’ve always had a real passion for all three disciplines and started to explore the idea of studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at degree-level.

Fortunately, I was able to switch degree subjects before starting study at Lancaster University and I’m very happy I made the change to Philosophy, Politics and Economics. I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed studying English Literature, though I wanted to make the perfect choice of degree subject - and I believe I have!

Be ready for challenges

Degrees can certainly be difficult - it’s as simple as that. Luckily, I usually find my work so engrossing and captivating that the difficulties of my work can be easy to ignore. Whether it is a difficult worksheet in Economics or a challenging essay in Politics, I like to remind myself that I’m usually able to find interesting elements in any of the degree work I do.

When you encounter challenges, it’s important to remind yourself of why you’re studying the course you decided on prior to starting university: try not to let minor inconveniences take precedence over your initial (and hopefully growing!) interest for your degree subject.

Immerse yourself in your degree subject

Before starting your course, I think it’s a good idea to keep the passion burning! Make sure you’re doing activities that relate to your subject. Before studying my course at university, for example, I liked reading political books and keeping up with current affairs to improve my knowledge and intrigue in my subject. In the holidays between terms, instead of sometimes revising, I like to do activities that relate to my subject. For example, I enjoy reading articles from a quality newspaper, or participating in online forums that concern philosophical issues.

Being on campus, there are many opportunities to engage with students that have similar interests to yourself. I would recommend that you take part in societies that directly relate to your subject: with more than 175 societies at Lancaster University, I’ve had plenty of choice in choosing societies that are associated with my degree subject.

Additionally, just kicking about ideas with your housemates is a really pleasurable and fun experience to get opinions on subjective areas of your subject. In my first year, I had plenty of discussions with my housemates on philosophical matters and ideas about how to best run the economy!

Look ahead…

What would you like to do after completing your degree?

Degrees are a good stepping-stone for helping to fulfil your own career ambitions.Bear in mind that your choice of degree subject could heavily influence the area which you could have a career in. This is especially true in vocational degree subjects, whereas there is perhaps more freedom in career choices in academic-based degrees.

Over the last two years, I’ve become extremely passionate in studying philosophy at university-level and I would really like this to continue. I will be applying for a postgraduate course in philosophy as I would like to spend another year studying what I’m passionate about. On joining university, it’s good to have at the back of your mind what you might want to end up doing. There are services such as the Lancaster University Careers Team that can help you think about life choices after university.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re doing something you enjoy!


Aaron is a second year undergraduate at Lancaster University and is studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

Lancaster University employs students to create authentic content from a student perspective. All views expressed in this article are those of the students, and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of Lancaster University.