These are my revision notes from my undergraduate studies of Philosophy, Politics and Economics. I created the summary sheets and used them for my PPE Final exams in summer 2020. The three Politics modules I took exams in are: Poltical Theory, International Relations and Advanced Paper in Theories of Justice.
If you are an incoming Finalist, feel free to use these for your reference and as a complementing resource for your own material. But be mindful of double-checking sources and critically evaluating the arguments made, as these documents are prone to human error.
Content of each summary sheet
I structured the summary sheets as follows:
- Exam Strategies: What to look out for during an exam, from personal experience and advice from tutors and previous finalists
- My own position: This is my stance on the topic after I had made most notes in the document and thought deeply about the topic. I found it important to include, because a good exam essay has a strong thesis statement and makes a convincing argument. For speaking with an authoritative voice, one needs to have a consolidated position on the topic. You are of course invited to disagree!
- Definitions, Clarifications: Rough explanation of important terms of the debate, what is fundamentally about etc. But be mindful that some definitions are subject to debate!
- Subtopics of the debate: “mapping the landscape” –> these are the main issues that fall under the broad topic
- Main Authors and their works for reference
Some more context: It is advisable in any Politics module to carefully choose a few topics (4-5) to revise in-depth. You will want to choose more than three, even if you only have to write three essays. This is because examiners might combine topics together in one question, in which case it is good to still have “back-ups”. Cross-referencing material from different topics can also be a good idea, as long as you don’t repeat the same arguments in multiple essays!
Political Theory (PolTheory)
Topic: Equality and Egalitarianism
Topic: Global Justice
Topic: Perfectionism and Neutrality.
Topic: Political Obligation.
International Relations (IR)
Topic: Democratic Peace Theory
Topic: Humanitarian Intervention
Topic: International Law, Society and Order
Topic: United Nations
Advanced Paper in Theory of Justice (APTJ)
Topic: Disability and Justice
Topic: Environmental Justice
Topic: Historic Injustice
Topic: Justice toward Future Generations
Some Revision and Exam Tips
Below are some tips and strategies that I found quite helpful when exams were approaching:
- For revision:
- Don’t burn out too early by reading 5 new articles every day or writing the 3rd practice essay in one afternoon. Pace yourself, you will need the energy. It is a marathon, not a sprint!
- Focus on quality, not quantity. Before moving to timed essays, practice writing really good essays in the word limit of 1000 words or whatever you think you can realistically write in the limited amount of time during the exam. This will ensure you write high-quality essays, rather than not-well-thought out essays
- Work toward a consolidated position on each topic. This will make it easier to argue convincingly for a thesis in the actual exam.
- For the exam:
- Literally every examiners’ report says that “weaker candidates failed to tailor their response to the exact essay prompt” – Don’t be that person.
- Take a deep breath before you open the exam script. Whatever will come, you will be able to manage! No need to panic.
- Plan your essay before you begin to write. You should spend 5-10 minutes on this. Make sure you have a coherent argument and you know what you want to say before you start writing your introduction. This is to prevent a rambly essay that you think of on the fly.
- Be strict with timing. If you have three hours for three essays, then that means that one hour should be spent on each essay. Avoid spending too much time on the first essay and neglecting the two other ones. Each essay carries the same weight in the final mark.
Any more questions? Feel free to reach out to me!