PPS Faculty to merge with International Studies

Alexander Glasner 23 October 2008

The Centre for International Studies is to merge with the Department of Politics, causing some concern as to how colleges will deal with the new application system for the subject.

The Faculty of PPS (Politics, Psychology, Sociology) will bring International Studies under its wing to form a new department, POLIS (Politics and International Studies), intended to make this subject area more available to undergraduates.

The Centre for International Studies is currently separate from the PPS faculty, yet the two subjects, according to Professor Gamble, the head of the Faculty of PPS, “complement one another to a great extent.”

Gamble added that, “the changes have nothing to do with saving money, but are aimed at taking advantage of an exciting new academic opportunity.” By joining the two departments together, it is thought that International relations will become more accessible to undergraduates.

Ant Bagshaw, the CUSU Education Officer, told The Cambridge Student (TCS) “everyone agrees with the rationale behind the reorganization,” but he added, “there are serious questions about how the course will be structured, something which hasn’t yet been addressed by the faculty.”

It is the changes to the Tripos system that have caused greatest concern. The PPS Tripos is set to change to incorporate this new subject area, and, as a result, changes will be introduced in the admissions process.

Although available as a postgraduate degree, Cambridge is one of the few universities not to offer International Relations to undergraduates, despite being very popular elsewhere. “It is very positive that they’ll be teaching this now at undergraduate level”, said Bagshaw.

These changes are part of a large overhaul of the PPS faculty. Having recently changed its name from SPS (Social and Political Sciences), it is intended that future students will no longer apply simply for PPS, but will chose which area of the subject they want to specialise in early on. It is thought that these measures will appeal to a wider range of applicants.

Although the departments are due to merge in January, changes to the PPS Tripos, which were originally planned for 2009, will now be postponed until 2010. Bagshaw has told TCS that “they will not be in a position to offer the full program until 2011 at the earliest.”

CUSU has accused the faculty of “trying to push changes through too quickly,” and said that colleges needed more time to understand and adjust to the new system.

However, Dr van Houten told TCS that, “the CUSU reservations are no longer warranted, as no changes will be made without the consultation and cooperation of the Colleges.”

“The Overarching plan is sound but it lacks attention to detail,” said Bagshaw. He assured TCS that this will not affect current students.

Alexander Glasner