Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Emma Darkins

MA Politics (Parliamentary) | 2010 - 2011

Photo of Emma Darkins

About me
I am 24 years old. I decided to do a MA in Politics (Parliamentary) after finishing a degree in International History and Politics at Leeds in 2009, following which I moved to Madrid for a year to teach English and then returned in September 2010 to do my MA.

I am now, following the internship completed as part of my MA, working full time as a Parliamentary Assistant for Heather Wheeler MP for South Derbyshire. I work in her Westminster Office as her only member of staff based in London.

My job is very varied, ranging from organising events and meetings for Heather, liaising with outside organisations, writing briefing reports on policy issues, researching topics to go into correspondences to constituents, organising Heather’s calendar, writing press releases and maintaining her website.

The job is very fulfilling. By working so closely with my boss on so many different issues, I feel like a really valuable part of her team.

My motivation to study Politics
After studying at Leeds for my undergraduate degree, I was well aware of the excellent facilities Leeds has. I was particularly excited to see the new gym that was being built whilst I did my undergraduate degree.

However, the main attraction to Leeds was the course itself. The fact that the MA had an internship built in to it was especially appealing. Having already studied politics, I was keen to see what politics is like in action and this MA certainly gave me the opportunity to do so.

Living in London and working in Westminster really allowed me to see what the job of an MP entails and how the political system works. Also knowing that the course would prepare me for the internship through Parliamentary Studies One was a huge relief and also the knowledge that I would have University support whilst I was doing my internship made the course very appealing.

My experience
I had a great experience at Leeds. There is always so much to do on campus whether it be taking part is one of the ‘give it a go activities’ with the University Union, or attending a guest lecture or just meeting up with friends on campus. I found my lectures really enjoyable with every week focusing on a different political aspect; discussions were always varied and interesting. The lecturers are also excellent, giving really good feedback and advice when needed.

I think the facilities at the University are excellent. The two libraries are really well-sourced, and even have a member of staff dedicated to your subject area to help with accessing online and specialist resources.

I also found the careers centre a great facility at the University, giving really good advice on how to write a good CV and how to prepare for interviews.

The course
I thought the course was really good. The fact that not only can you attend your course modules but have the option to sit in -- with the lecturer's permission -- on other topics means the course really gives you the opportunity to broaden your knowledge base.

The library is also well stocked to suit the requirements of the course, which is an absolute bonus. Overall, I thought the course was really well organised, especially as we had a module that prepared us for the internship followed by the internship itself.

The fact that the University organised my placement made the transition from Leeds to Westminster really easy and the University's continued support when I was doing my internship was really valuable.

I also really enjoyed the freedom we had when choosing our dissertation title; it was really down to me. Once I had a subject area, I was then matched to my supervisor who had an excellent understanding on the subject matter and helped me get a really good question to research.

The guidance I received from Dr David Seawright was excellent. I found him really approachable and very helpful throughout the writing of my dissertation. His experience and knowledge of British Politics was invaluable. Furthermore, the administration team were also really helpful especially around essay deadline time.

City life
Leeds is a really well-located city especially if you want to do some travelling around the UK: only two and half hours away from London, an hour from Manchester and two hours from Liverpool. You are well-placed to explore the country's best cities. Leeds has a great atmosphere and I found it really welcoming. At Christmas, there is even a Christmas market!

Since graduation
After graduating, I worked full-time in Westminster with the MP I did my internship with. The degree really set me up with the skills and the experience I needed to get the job. The well-rounded political knowledge I received in POLIS really helped me get to grips with the political world and gave me a good understanding of the political party I worked for. I now work as a Policy Officer for the MS Society, monitoring and evaluating Government policy and its impact on people affected by MS. I really enjoy knowing that my work is contributing to the overall work of the Society.

I would strongly recommend people who want to gain valuable work experience and broaden their knowledge of British Politics do this course. This MA is not like a standard MA where you spend all your time in the library or the lecture theatre; this will give you real life work experience - excellent for your CV - right in the heart of British Politics. The internship is a great opportunity to network and learn about how Politics work practically, not just theoretically.

The Politics Department is a great place to broaden your understanding of British politics. The lecturers are well established in their fields and more than happy to share their passion for politics with you.

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