I am from the beautiful city of Oxford, a hot spot for English culture. My interests and intellectual curiosities, particularly with regard politics, extend to regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, North America and East Asia. Naturally it is such interests which have guided my passion towards the field of International Relations.
Why I Chose BA International Relations at Leeds
I applied to study International Relations as a result the interest that I developed in this field of study during my A levels. At A level I studied History, Politics and Geography. I found Politics to be incredibly interesting and perhaps my favourite subject, yet studying History and Geography also opened my mind to the interconnected nature of politics on a global scale. I found global political issues to be far more interesting and important, in many respects, than domestic ones. International Relations offered the most coherent combination of all areas of my academic interest and curiosity, allowing for political, philosophical, historical and economic analysis in a wide array of contexts, instead of being limited to a single area.
I applied to Leeds University as my first choice after visiting a number of Russell Group universities. Leeds seemed to offer the perfect balance of going to a widely respected university while living in a big city. The POLIS department seemed enthusiastic, interesting and engaging which many other universities I visited lacked. It is primarily the appeal, not only of the course structure, but of the POLIS department which led me to pick Leeds University over others, as I am of the opinion that the qualities possessed by the department are integral to achieving high grades and developing impressive career prospects.
My Passion for International Relations
What makes me most passionate about International Relations is its focus on so many interesting topics from the role of international institutions such as the United Nations to its analysis of dynamic global political issues, most notably those of Syria and the intervention in Libya.
International Relations’ most significant strength is that there is a great deal of freedom to develop knowledge, insights and analytical skills in new areas which aren’t generally explored at pre-university level. I have become deeply interested in sub-Saharan African politics and the role played by external actors namely the United States and China, a focus which is only truly accounted for in the field of International Relations. Prior to studying International Relations I was unaware of just how significant and stimulating such topics were.
So far I have found my course to fulfil all my hopes and expectations regarding both the nature of topics addressed and what I would get out of it. The aspects of the course I have enjoyed the most are the modules: State and Politics of Africa, Theories of International Relations, North-South Linkages and Politics of Contemporary China. Perhaps the most beneficial aspects of the course aside from assessments and lectures have been seminars. It is exciting to participate in an intellectual debate where those taking part are equally as passionate about the subject. The outcome is that your own arguments are challenged and developed, allowing one to produce more nuanced perspectives and a greater strength in articulating and convincing others of your opinion.
In general the teaching staff are helpful, incredibly useful and supportive. Lecturers and seminar leaders are easy to contact and provide tailored assistance regarding any academic concerns or issues. The Leeds University libraries provide an outstanding level of resources and a great working environment meaning that it is easy to spend long periods of time at the library when studying.
Outside of Studying
Outside of studies there are a number of societies which can add to the study of International Relations and enhance your CV, such as the UN society and Amnesty International. There are also societies such as HipHop society (of which I am Vice President), Ghana society and Afro-Caribbean Society which are generally social societies allowing one to make new friends and gain new experiences and connections through events such as HipHop Karaoke night!
Life in Leeds
Leeds as a city is, in short, the best city in the UK. While a city like Oxford is small and overtly student focused, and a city like London is large and expensive, Leeds is the perfect balance of a student city and a ‘real’ city. The night life is obviously a strength whether you like Afrobeats, Dancehall, House, HipHop etc, the city will accommodate your perfect night out. Aside from clubbing, which I am not too keen on personally, Leeds is generally a great city for socialising, going to concerts and shopping. It is cheap and guaranteed to facilitate a good time, whether you like chilling in the park or shopping.
My Advice to Prospective Students
International Relations at Leeds provides a large amount of freedom to develop academically as an individual in almost any given area of interest, with staff specialising in many different fields and willing to share their expertise and passion through lectures, seminars and office hours. Other universities lack such traits, specifically with regard to International Relations, where Leeds University possess strong qualities.
After completing my degree I hope either to pursue a career at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and/or obtain a Master’s degree which will allow me to go into either political risk consulting or working for the United Nations.