Skip to content

That’s So SOAS

  • Features

Our guide to being the coolest kid on the block

The most fulfilling part of your university experience is often to be found in dialogue with your peers, and nowhere are you fulfilled more thoroughly than here at SOAS. This dialogue is given a formal, structured and (above all) compulsory framework in the form of your tutorials, in which you share your thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams with your fellow students. You’re also given the opportunity to start sentences with things like “I just couldn’t help but think of Foucault during this week’s readings …”, and Lord knows the rest of life offers precious few opportunities for that.

But tutorial groups have their own very particular set of awkward pitfalls, and one’s journey to fulfilment can very easily be stymied by annoying fellow travellers. I think you know what I’m getting at here ‒ that particular style of student who knows an awful lot about the SWP and not much about anything else (combat boots, beards, air of misogyny ‒ by their fruits ye shall know them). Or the guy who’ll throw into the mix “yeah, but … what even is a thought?” to hide the fact that he hasn’t done the readings, attended the lecture and is actually in the wrong building.

Well here are a few pearls of wisdom, from my soul to yours, which will help you in your quest to dominate a tutorial without seeming like a dick…

1. How to cut in when someone is making a stupid point? My patented method is the classic “oh but!” that bursts forth as if you just can’t help it. You clap a hand over your mouth, look sheepish, apologise, pause for a moment and then launch into your criticism. Because you didn’t mean to interrupt, it just happened.

2. How to do as little reading as possible? The advice I got from an older and wiser student, many years ago, is to pick one thing at random really far down the reading list, then get in really early with an insightful point on it. Everyone will think you’ve chewed through most of the reading list and didn’t want to bother yourself with a comment on one of the lamestream texts at the top.

3. And above all, the phrase that will get you through any sticky discussion topic in any department at SOAS: “you know what, I think we could totally apply a Marxist model to this.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *