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PPS - Donna Hirsch

Donna began studying PPS in 2009 having studied History, English Literature, Maths, Physics and Religious Studies at school. She is about to begin an MPhil in Criminology at Cambridge.

'I originally applied to St John’s for History but decided to switch to PPS when I returned to college after an illness. The breadth of the papers, especially in the first year, appealed to me as I was still unsure what I wanted to specialise in. I found that the different subjects I studied in first year, ranging from non-state societies in the Social Anthropology paper, to developmental psychology gave me a wide knowledge base that was useful to me when I came to specialise in Politics. I believe I had a more rounded perspective that would not have been available to me if I had studied a straight Politics course at another university.

Specialising in Politics in my second year, I was able to choose which period of in the history of political thought I wanted to study, and I opted for the earlier paper. Alongside this, I also studied Pol 3 which places more emphasis on global politics and international relations, and within this chose to examine in more detail the Rwandan genocide and the process leading to the independence of Kosovo. During this year, I discovered my passion for political theory as well as an interest in constitutional law through my long essay examining the use of judicial review in America.

In my final year, I chose to study two further political theory and political philosophy papers. This allowed me to appreciate the evolution of political thought from theorists such as Plato and Aristotle through to theorists of the modern day, as well as concepts that have evolved during that time as well. Alongside this, I chose an interdisciplinary paper in Criminology, to be examined as two long essays in place of a dissertation. This related to my plan to work in criminal research and policy, either in a think tank or as part of the Civil Service, and gave me some experience of the discipline so that I could decide whether to apply for the MPhil.

PPS at St John’s gives you the chance to enjoy supervisions with some of the leading people in the disciplines you are studying, often the people who are writing the books that are on your reading lists. As a large college, St John’s has a lot to offer, from funding for half of all the academic books you buy, to good facilities for extracurricular activities and beautiful accommodation. I’ve enjoyed being at St John’s so much that I’ve decided to stay for another year to study my MPhil there, and would recommend it unreservedly.'

- Donna Hirsch, BA 2012