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PPS - Richard Curling

Richard studied History, Government & Politics, German and English at A-level at an Essex Grammar school. Richard achieved the highest first in the PPS Tripos before remaining at St John’s to read Management Studies in 2009/10. He will begin working in marketing at Google in August 2010.

'In sixth form I didn’t have a clear idea of what I saw myself doing either at University or beyond. I wasn’t hugely politically active but I’d always found myself interested in a variety of issues at the level of individuals and societies: with its broad scope and interlocking perspectives on every issue, I found the PPS tripos suited me perfectly. 

PPS students have a great deal of independence: this allows them to balance their workload with extra-curricular activities. Provided you’re sensible about it, you can get a great deal extra out of your time at St. John’s along with your degree. Whilst many PPSers got involved with university societies and groups, I found everything I could ever need within my college. Throughout my time here I’ve sung in the St John’s Singers (not to be confused with our world-class Gents of St John’s!), represented the student body on the college JCR committee, been President of the Palmerston Society, hosting talks and gatherings for Johnian PPS undergraduates, graduate students, and fellows, as well as rowing for (probably) the best college sports team, the Lady Margaret Boat Club.

All of this accompanies a learning experience that is second to none. PPS students are really well looked out for at St John’s: there are fellows at the college specialising in all streams of the PPS course. I took the joint Sociology and Politics stream, studying issues ranging through the media, crime, genocides, revolutions, and the interface of science and politics. As a result I really appreciated having access to such a broad wealth of expertise so close to home.

This support proves invaluable in those moments when work starts to pile up. PPS isn’t easy: reading lists at times seem insurmountable, and it’s daunting having to develop independent arguments about topics that you might have only a matter of days to research. Yet the value of what you stand to gain makes this more than worthwhile: both the fascinating subjects themselves and discovering how you operate and study best.

Most satisfyingly, nothing is ever taken for granted in PPS. You will never be forced to accept anything as given without opportunity to examine or criticise. The knowledge, outlook and beliefs with which you leave PPS are considerably stronger for it. If you’re the sort of person with a thirst for knowledge, who likes to question why things are the way they are, and is prepared to dig right down to the bottom of a debate, then you’ll really enjoy studying PPS at St John’s.'

  - Richard Curling, graduated 2009