Dual Degrees: how combining two fields is the way forward

@IE University

What it’s like to study Bachelor in Laws and Bachelor in International Relations in the same classroom: 3 students’ perspectives

With the world becoming more and more interconnected every day, it’s crucial to enter the workforce with a global mindset, no matter the industry. The field of Laws is no exception, and it’s becoming increasingly common for law students to pair their education with a comprehensive Bachelor in International Relations.

At IE University, we offer an immersive Dual Degree in Laws and International Relations. In the program, students have the opportunity to dive into both fields of study—even taking joint sessions led by professors from both schools.

To discover what a joint session looks like, we spoke to three students in the program: Iván Luque, Sofía Álvarez, and Elvira Acinas. Here’s what they had to say!

On November 27th, we and the rest of the students from our dual degree had the opportunity to attend a special double class with a professor of political science, a subject in the Bachelor in International Relations program; and a professor of constitutional law, from the Bachelor of Laws program. The law professor for this session was Sonsoles Arias Guedón, a legal professional with an impressive trajectory. The political science professor was Michele Testoni, who studied and later taught international politics in Italy, with a special focus on NATO.

It was fascinating to attend a class that specifically teaches both topics. We are learning about both fields, but the courses are usually separate, so it’s unique and exciting to learn from professors from the two different bachelors in one classroom. The joint session helped us to understand the countless connections these two subjects have and to apply the knowledge of one to the other in a more organic way. The session focused on the political systems of Spain and Italy—the native countries of the two professors.

Personally, the three of us come from the Spanish education system, which, at IE University, is kind of rare since most of the students here either studied in another country or in international schools. So we had to adapt: first to studying in another language, and second—and more importantly—to a new way of working. We study and live in an international environment in which the comparative method is given great importance. This method consists of comparing various systems (political, legal, etc…) in different countries, enriching your overall knowledge of the subject and specifically of the countries analyzed. In the case of this joint class, we compared Spain and Italy.

Obviously, the Spanish political system was quite familiar to us and we understood it better. However, we had never worked on or studied anything related to the Italian one, so this was our chance to do so.

This session also coincided with the most recent Spanish general elections, and curiously enough, the polls that had been published up until that moment actually predicted a shift into a new system that’s very similar to the Italian one. This system seems to work in apparent chaos, which Italians have become used to, but for Spaniards would be a complete novelty. We have historically lived in a two-party system that assured a certain balance and continuity in power between the two biggest historical parties. Until recently, that is. Now, new actors have come into play, transforming the way Spanish politics works and causing the first ever coalition government in this country—as opposed to the Italian democracy where governing in coalition is as common as voting.

«It really reflected what our dual degree in particular and IE University in general is about, working and learning about different countries with an international group of students, aided by professors who are experts in their respective fields»

After a quick recap of the history and functioning of both Italian and Spanish systems and their legal implications, the class was asked to get into groups and try to think of possible solutions to the problems that each system presents, taking into account what we had learned earlier and encouraging debate among ourselves and with our teachers.

Trying to fix these different realities turned out to be a great exercise, and being few in class helped in the sense that the discussion could be carried out with enough interest and focus on each problem, leaving room for everyone to express their opinions. This also brought us closer to our teachers in a more relaxed way. In a normal session, the professors can’t interact so easily with us, because they need to follow the syllabus and attend to a bigger class.

It’s actually surprising how much you can get into the explanation of something interesting if you don’t have to be constantly taking notes and worrying about studying it later. Learning for the sake of learning can be really fun. Who would’ve thought?

Obviously, we still need to follow a script of some sort and have exams, or at least some sort of evaluation, but having these extra sessions is a nice way of changing our approach to the subject and still leaving something useful with us, especially if we can apply it to real and current problems.

Overall, the joint session was a great and enjoyable experience, and we think it worked out well, despite complicated schedules.

It really reflected what our dual degree in particular and IE University in general is about, working and learning about different countries with an international group of students, aided by professors who are experts in their respective fields. In this case, their nationality and background also really helped to expand the subject. In this university, we live in a diverse and international environment, so instead of only limiting ourselves to Spanish history and politics, we can learn much more—something that if it wasn’t for these kinds of opportunities we could maybe ignore.

We look forward to having similar activities in the future!

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This joint session—and the dual degree itself—is part of IE University’s overarching commitment to equipping students with the skills they need to succeed in the real world. Our students graduate with a holistic, global perspective and a multidisciplinary toolset, ready to take on any role in their field.