sander BOXEBELD, netherlands
My name is Sander Boxebeld and I am 18 years old. I opted for European Public Administration since I like the fact that this study programme is social oriented, very international and small scale. I just passed my first module here and I would like to tell you something about this module.
What did you do in the first module?
Every module centres on a given theme. A module contains four elements: a project, two related courses that provide you with the required knowledge and a third course concerning research skills, like data collection or statistics. These four elements are graded and the average of these grades will be your module grade.
The name of the first module is ‘The Modern State’. The whole module was about the key concepts of the modern state in a European context. For the project, groups of five or six students had to choose an area in Europe with the desire to become an independent state, like Catalonia or Scotland. Then, as a group, we had to make a constitution for that area, in which we decided about some key aspects of a state (e.g. whether we wanted a king or a president as the Head of State), together with an explanatory memorandum, in which we explained the choices we made. In the last week of the module, we had to defend our constitution and memo in front of the other groups and the tutors.
Besides this project, we had two related courses: Constitutional Law in Europe and Introduction to Political Science. The first course introduced us to the functions and contents of constitutions and to the application of European law, while the second course introduced us to the key elements of politics, like different electoral systems and various governmental institutions. Finally, we had a third course concerning research skills, named Introduction to Research Methods. This course was about the basics of social research, for instance different types of research questions, data collections methods and the related terminology.
What did you like most about the first module?
I really liked the fact that we could start from scratch with designing our constitution; we had to figure out a lot ourselves and we had to make a lot of decisions. This made it quite difficult in the beginning, but I experienced it mainly as a challenge in a positive way. With making a constitution, we got the opportunity to create an imaginary state in the way we liked it. The numerous decisions we had to make caused a lot of discussions within our group as well. There were different opinions about key aspects, for instance whether we wanted a bicameral or unicameral system, mayors that are directly elected, indirectly elected or appointed, a president or a monarch, etc. This forced me to think extensively about these topics, which made me more aware of the way my home country, the Netherlands, is organised and what I think about that.
What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging for me was the research methods course. It is not something I chose the study programme for and I do not think it is an interesting topic. However, I am aware of the importance of this subject, since without it I will not be able to do research in a proper way. In the beginning, I thought Introduction to Research Methods was really abstract and hard to understand, but by watching the micro lectures (online lectures you can watch whenever you like and as much as you want) several times, I got more and more familiar with the course and finally I passed it without serious difficulties.
In addition, it was hard for me to read large amounts of text in English, since it is not my native language. But since everything is taught in English and there are many foreign students, I was forced to talk, write and read in English all day. In this way, I got used to it quickly and reading became easier as well.
What did you learn from this module?
Besides the fact that I am more aware of the concepts of states, which I already mentioned, I got to know more about politics in general, on both national and European level. I also learned the basics of doing social research.
From a more practical point of view, I learned how to read and ‘scan’ texts in English and how to write ‘carefully’, since every word in a constitution can make a significant difference.
Finally I think this module was a good start and a proper introduction to the study programme and so far, I really like the content of the study programme and the project-based education.