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Politics & International Relations Personal Statement

Agreement is rare in politics, and rarer still is certainty, yet this volatility and change captivate me. If opinions fail to coincide, ideas collide, and the results ripple through all areas of society indiscriminately. I am not only fascinated by this, but affected, which makes politics all the more important. The precarious interactions between nations fill me with both fear and excitement, which when combined, impel me towards Politics and International Relations.

Through contemplation on Kenneth Minogue's "A Very Short Introduction" to politics, my perception of the political bubble was shattered; I could now immerse myself into all areas of the discipline. This epiphany led me to podcasts such as Talking Politics and LBC to bolster my understanding of contemporary issues, domestic and global. I began to observe the political realm as a collection of interdependent forces, which became explicit upon reading "The Populist Explosion" by John Judis, connecting the collapse of Lehman Brothers to a contiguous sequence that saw a billionaire businessman enter the White House and an Italian comedian become president; echoing a discussion I enjoyed with Rupert Harrison at Blackrock.

I was engaged by Judis' dissection of the anti-elite worldview; a political perspective that has agitated international relations profoundly in recent years. Particularly intriguing was his distinction between left and right-wing populism, the latter deriving from unprecedented levels of third world immigration. I explored this topic further through my reading of Cas Muddle's "The Populist Radical Right" which heralds the dangers of extremism to the political spectrum, but seemingly expresses a naive perception on the scale and success of populism, an error Judis avoids.

I'm deeply fascinated by the philosophical element intrinsic to politics, an interest fuelled by reading "The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli - an incisive interpretation into governance without morality. It intrigues me that a 16th century treatise can hold so much relevance today, particularly on the topic of law, arguing it would only be obeyed through coercive enforcement. Kenneth Waltz, and his "Theory of International Politics" made me realise this can also be applied to international law, as demonstrated by China's claim to the South China Sea, or even Britain's exporting of arms to Saudi Arabia. It is clear international anarchy undermines international law; does this justify the reduction of state sovereignty to hold nations accountable?

Visiting Brussels post-Brexit proved extremely useful in grappling with such a critical issue for our nation, discussing the implications of the referendum result with numerous MEPs in the European Parliament. Although Brexit seemed a blatant act of nationalism, inevitable withdrawal from the European Union has been met with drastic repercussions, making me question whether the globalised world is merely an exaggerated concept, or a harsh reality, which subsequently became the theme of my EPQ. This project bolstered my researching skills, delving into the works of Joseph Nye and his theory of “Complex Interdependence,” a convincing criticism of Neorealism, and a valuable addition to my A-Level Politics and Economics studies on the synoptic topic of Globalisation.

Alongside academia, I'm pursuing the Gold DofE award. The Debating Society has improved my communication skills, while teaching me to order ideas coherently. Furthermore, I have experienced discussions with important political figures within Economics Society, such as Labour MP Chi Onwurah, and enjoyed a visit to the Houses of Parliament to talk with MP Ian Mearns; both conversations offered invaluable opinions on current affairs that differ from my own, breaking the echo chamber in which we so often reside. I hope these supplementary experiences, alongside a constant determination for perseverance and outstanding work ethic, will prepare me well for University studies.

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Author's Comments

This was probably the most annoying things I've every written, and took way too many versions before I was happy, but I suppose it paid off in the end (although reading it back now I am not sure how!).

The personal statement in hindsight was perhaps too focused upon the books I read (which ended up making me waste a lot of characters) and was too vague about me personally (which is the entire point behind a personal statement). For this reason, I don't think it would have got me into Oxbridge, because from what I have seen prefer a much more personal piece of writing revolving around your interests / accomplishments rather than someone's you have read (I didn't apply to Oxford as PPE required maths (which I don't do) and that was the only course I thought was better for me over P & IR at LSE).

I might be taking a gap-year (and try and defer my LSE offer) for reasons I wont get into, but will most likely make some changes to this statement and submit to Oxford (as I will hopefully be doing maths A-level in the gap year) next year.

Since I will most likely be amending this statement for next year, any constructive criticism would be appreciated :)

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