New conjunct degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics

An innovative and pioneering initiative in Spanish university studies, this four-year degree, with mobility and flexibility being its main charasteristics, will offer places for 40 students (10 per university and 20 per autonomous community) starting from September 2013.

The new joint degree programme, another step in the strategic development of A-4U, was presented yesterday by Josep Joan Moreso, rector of UPF, José M. Sanz, rector of UAM, Daniel Peña, rector of UC3M, and Gloria González, Vice-Rector for Quality, Teaching and Skills Transfer of UAB, at a press conference at UPF.

Josep Joan Moreso, rector of UPF, summarised the spirit behind this initiative: “This is a joint project launched by four universities, which share a number of objectives. We would like students who register for the new degree to feel members of all four universities”.

According to José M. Sanz, rector of UAM and current president of A-4U, “We are talking about a cross-disciplinary and innovative programme that is unique to the university studies in Spain. It is highly demanded and is oriented to the training of political and social elites”. He added: “Two years have been spent on defining contents and finding synergies. We have tried to identify convergence points among the three disciplines, which are areas of excellence at four universities of A-4U”.

Daniel Peña, rector of UC3M, insisted on the opportunities, provided by the new programme: “It is a way to share syllabus and experiences, and to learn from best practices. In a word, it is a way to advance our joint learning”.

UPF will act as the overall coordinator of the programme, with each discipline being coordinated by one of the universities: Philosophy – UAM, Political Science – UPF, and Economics – UC3M.

Characteristics of the new programme

The distinctive feature of the new degree is that it seeks to adapt a model that has been successful elsewhere in the world to the needs and opportunities of the Spanish university market.

The programme has been designed so as to take advantage of existing resources, requiring a minimum intake of new teaching staff and no additional spending on facilities, and creating important synergies with existing degrees. At the current time of limited resources, this is a welcome and feasible initiative.

In terms of its structure, the new programme encourages student mobility among the four universities during the first three years, and offers the possibility to spend the third year at a foreign university. Students will be able to do so through mobility programmes, such Séneca and Erasmus, as well as through international exchange agreements to be signed with leading universities, such as Louvain University, Humboldt University in Berlin or Trento University.

The first year will be taught at UPF. The second year will be spent in Madrid, one term at UC3M and another at UAM. The third year, which will offer specialisation pathways and a course in Research Methodologies in Social Sciences, will encourage international or A-4U mobility. During their fourth year, students will undertake their final project at one of A-4U universities, depending on their chosen specialisation, and go on an optional work placement at private businesses or public organisations.

Daniel Peña pointed out flexibility as a defining characteristic of the new degree: “It aims to attract the best students who can decide in which area they would like to specialise, and who can choose what resources to use, available to them at four universities”.

A 240 ECTS credit syllabus will consist of basic training courses, compulsory subjects, case study seminars, specialisation pathways, work placements, international mobility and a bachelor’s dissertation. Accepted students will register at one of the four universities and a minimum cut-off mark needed for entry will depend on the university of registration and current demand.

Courses will be taught in Catalan, Spanish and English (depending on the subject) and will cover general knowledge areas during the first two years. In their third and fourth year students will specialise in a chosen pathway. Daniel Peña pointed out positive aspects of the multilingual programme: “We see it as added value, as an enriching experience and an opportunity to get to know new cultures and mindsets”.

Scholarships and career opportunities

Tuition fees, similar to those on existing programmes in social sciences and humanities, will range from 1.200 to 1.600 Euros per year. Additional mobility implies an extra cost for students and their families, so a system of privately-funded scholarships will be in place to enable students to take part in the mobility and include talented students from less-privileged backgrounds. According to Daniel Peña, these resources and provision of equal opportunities “will be guaranteed”.

Benefitting from an inter-disciplinary perspective on social sciences, students will be equipped with a range of analytical tools to understand an increasingly globalised, complex, and inter-connected world. As for their careers, future graduates will be qualified for jobs in the public and private sectors, including multinational companies, in areas such as politics, journalism, industry, education, business management, consulting and public relations, diplomatic services, autonomous and local governments, and international organisations, among others. British current prime-minister David Cameron, late Pakistani prime-minister Benazir Bhutto, and a prominent philosopher Iaiah Berlin, are some of those who graduated from similar programmes, offered now by about 50 leading universities in the world.