Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Frances Haycock

BA International Relations | 2009 - 2013

Photo of Frances Haycock

About me
I grew up in St Albans, where I studied for my International Baccalaureate Diploma, before commencing my International Relations degree at Leeds. In my spare time I’m a keen follower of current affairs, an enthusiastic musician and I love socialising with friends.

My motivation to study
My decision to apply for International Relations was prompted by meeting people from around the world when studying the Baccalaureate. The Leeds POLIS department has a great reputation so my choice to study here was a no-brainer. My initial instinct was confirmed when I visited Leeds on an open day and realised what a vibrant city it is.

I am passionate about politics because it is so critical to every aspect of our lives. Seemingly minor decisions made by those at the top can filter down and affect millions of people. Similarly, as is often apparent in international relations, domestic problems can develop and grow to have lasting effect throughout a region, or globally, as seen in the recent Arab Spring or the financial crisis.

Developing an understanding into such events is fascinating and international relations as a subject area is eternally relevant.

My experience
The course so far has been demanding and enjoyable in equal measures. So far I have appreciated being able to focus on particular case studies, past and present, in order to demonstrate concepts and improve research skills.

I have enjoyed most of my modules but one of my favourites was International Organisations and World Order. Although challenging, the module covered many interesting issues and I found it particularly beneficial to my understanding of world order at an institutional level.

The learning facilities in POLIS and the wider University are very good. I have found the access that we have to many online political journals invaluable throughout my degree. The libraries are very well stocked with great sources of information for research and exam preparation.

If you are looking for a course that will challenge you and your knowledge of the world but will reward you with insight and core employability skills, then apply for International Relations!

Outside of study
Leeds has a HUGE variety of societies that you can join! I particularly enjoy the Give it a Go sessions at the beginning of each term as you can try things out to see if you like them; I have tried out swing dancing and several others in this way!

You can take part in one off events with societies if you fancy such as the Student Action for Refugees (STAR) community days which I found eye-opening.

I have also been a member of Batuka Brasil, FolkSoc, the United Nations Association, Leeds University Office Training Corp and of course the POLIS Society! The best thing to do is just get involved and give it go!

Outside of studying I like travelling, going to gigs, watching films and socialising with friends. There are so many things to do on a student budget in Leeds and my friends and I always keep our eyes peeled for 2-4-1 cocktail offers!

Leeds is an incredibly diverse city. There really is something for everyone and so much to explore!

My placement at the House of Commons
I am currently working as a Sandwich Student in the Department of Chamber and Committee Services at the House of Commons.

After receiving an email notification about the placement from the careers centre, I went online and downloaded an application form which I filled in and emailed to the House of Commons. Approximately one month later I was asked to London for an interview. I was interviewed for approximately half an hour by a panel of five who assessed my suitability for the role and political knowledge. I was delighted, and quite shocked, when I was informed that I had been successful!
At present, my placement entails working for the Justice Select Committee but will involve moving to work on the Defence Select Committee in two months time. I assist the committee staff with current and future inquiries that the Committee may wish to undertake.

My main roles are; researching the issue; reading submissions from the public, experts and authorities; contacting witnesses to appear before the committee and briefing them; drafting questions for the evidence sessions; drafting briefs for Members; and most recently, drafting committee reports when the evidence has been collected.
Day to day
On a typical day I get to the office and answer phone calls and emails from witnesses. I also stay vigilant for “Justice” issues in the media which may be of particular interest to our committee. I will spend most of the day working on a brief or report draft for the next committee meeting.

On Tuesdays, when our committee meetings take place, I will be in a committee room in either the Palace or Portcullis House. On these days my main duties involve listening very carefully and note-taking!
There have so far been several highlights; when I sat a couple of rows behind David Cameron when he received a grilling from the Liaison Committee on a variety of issues including the August riots; when I attended the Speaker’s Christmas carol event in the State Rooms of his house; and playing “spot the MP” in Portcullis House during my lunch breaks! However, the real highlight is knowing that my work has been used for the briefs supplied to Members of the Justice Committee.

I am learning a lot about the processes and the work of the House of Commons, in particular the work of select committees and the role that they play in pre and post legislative scrutiny. I am learning a lot about the very foundations of law and policy making. Through the tasks that I am being set, I am learning how to write effectively and to critically review my work.

I think that the knowledge that I am developing on the work of Parliament will be applicable in my final year when I write my dissertation as I am certain that I will choose a topic that will relate to it. I think that the research skills that I am using everyday will be of huge benefit when preparing presentations in my final year and the process of drafting will certainly help when writing my dissertation.

I would recommend this placement to all 2nd year POLIS students!

Studying at Leeds has opened a world of opportunity to me but I haven’t yet decided exactly what I want to do after University. Suggestions welcome!

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