2nd Lt. Atle Ravndal
I chose to study at POLIS and at Leeds as I wanted to do an MA in Britain, and a good friend of mine, Professor Christopher Lord, who at that time taught at Leeds, gave me some input.
I decided to visit the University before I applied, to have a look at the facilities and talk with the people at POLIS. I liked what I saw and the courses offered at POLIS seemed to be a good choice for me.
I studied the MA in European Security and Defence Analysis. I wanted to do an MA within the defence area, but with a political perspective. The focus on European defence integration is a hot issue in Norway as well, even though Norway isn’t a member of the EU. I had done European integration at my BA, and the course happened to be a good continuance as such.
The course matched my expectations very well indeed, not least because within the MA I was able to choose different courses and combine them into a degree based on my own interests. I studied modules in European Studies, Organised Crime, Strategic Studies - in addition to the Defence and Security Analysis course. Overall it gave me a robust degree. What impressed me most, though, was the dedication of the lecturers. They were always very helpful and full of inspiration, with a long list of publications and experience in their field.
I most enjoyed about my course the fact that firstly, my classes consisted of people from literally all over the world, and I made good friends that I still keep in touch with. And it's always more valuable to discuss topics with people from different regions and background. Secondly I enjoyed the way of teaching in the sense that we had to give presentations, write papers and otherwise participate actively in the lectures. Learning by doing!
Of the facilities in the School and at the University in general I especially enjoyed the library, I must admit. Libraries and book stores are my second home, and I was impressed when I entered Leeds'. The great collection of books and journals were just fantastic and the staff were always very helpful. I don’t know how many hours I must have spent in there, but it's quite a few! Also, I lived at Sentinel Towers, and have fond memories of the passionate Bob the manager. Pass on my hellos if he’s still around!
To anyone thinking of applying to here I would say the University offers you a quite an attractive degree, but you have to work for it. Some of my co-students more or less did a degree instead of the degree, and I don't think they really got as much out of it as they could. You should know why you apply for the particular course. But when you do, it offers you a fantastic time in Yorkshire, and firsthand knowledge from very dedicated lecturers.
My favourite lecturer would have to be Dr. Neil Winn. Not only because he's very dedicated and fond of his students, Dr. Winn makes you feel really welcome and part of the "family". I grew very fond of Leeds and I still visit Leeds once or twice a year.
Since I graduated I have rejoined the Norwegian Army and did the Commissioning Course. I now work at a Combat Service Coy, leaving for Afghanistan in two weeks time!
My MA has helped in my career very much indeed. With my MA I could pretty much pick and choose what I wanted to work with within the Army. Academic degrees are still quite rare within the Norwegian Army, and I could easily choose a career path that suited me quite well.
I don't have much spare time. I work at an Army base up north, far above the Arctic Circle, and I work in hours so that I can take longer leaves to visit my family who lives down south in Norway. I guess you could say the army is also part of my family, at least my colleagues. Anyhow, the job offers a lot of travelling and outdoor nature experience.
After Afghanistan I'll continue my career in the Army, I suppose. I’ll be lieutenant in June next year, and after that we’ll see what future brings!