Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Juliette Gerstein

BA Politics and Parliamentary Studies | 2004 - 2008

Photo of Juliette Gerstein

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background etc?
I live on the edge of London, and one of the best things about Leeds was being able to get to the city centre without having to travel for an hour! I did English, History and Politics for A-Level. I took a gap year, and worked for the first half, so that I could fund lots of travelling in the second half. I went to Central America and the Caribbean for four months, where I went to language school, climbed volcanoes, lived in a tent in the jungle for a month during an environmental project, learnt to scuba dive, shopped a lot, and generally had the most amazing time. I really picked up the travel bug: that summer I went to Thailand, and since then I've also travelled in Eastern Europe and India. The Middle East is next on my list. I highly recommend having a gap year. I think I came to Leeds much more prepared and ready to start a degree that I would have done otherwise. Although I did a four-year course so I'm graduating at 23!

What made you want to apply to your course and to POLIS?
I really, really wanted to do the PPS course, because of the year working in Westminster and Washington. I think I even said at the interview that I would apply again a year later if I didn't get in! Luckily I did get in first time around.

What do you think of your course – How did it match your expectations?
Well obviously the most important thing for me was the year out, and that was fantastic. I had a really great year, and I'd love to do it all over again.

What have you enjoyed most about the course?
My year out of course. And having the freedom to choose most of my modules, and focus on areas that I was particularly interested in. I have been able to study the politics of specific areas, such as China and Africa, both of which I really enjoyed, and also the US and US Foreign Policy, which I intend to specialise in in the future. I know most people don’t say this, but I actually really enjoyed doing my dissertation! I liked the freedom to have a really in-depth study of something that I was really interested in.

What would you say about the facilities in the School and at the University in general?
I love Leeds as a city and as a University. I've been quite involved in the Union, and was on the committee for LUU Backstage Society in my final year, Stage Managing two 40-cast musicals. It was great being able to do that while studying.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
If you are really passionate about politics, go for it!

Tell us about your favourite lecturer
There are lots of lecturers who I really like: Dr Jason Ralph, Dr Stuart McAnulla, Dr Victoria Honeyman and Dr David Seawright. Dr Morris Szeftel was a fantastic lecturer too.
Passion about the subject makes a huge difference, and being friendly and approachable to the students does too!

What do you hope to be doing now you are graduating?
I start my MPhil in International Relations at Oxford University in October. I'm really excited about it, although I am preparing myself for some hard work!

If you have studied abroad what did you gain from this experience?
The semester in America counted as studying abroad, and it's amazing quite how different life in America is. The most fascinating insight was the differences in the day-to-day running of American and British politics. And the most important thing I gained (apart from some great shopping) was an amazing experience and fantastic friends.

Is there any advice you would like to share with your future POLIS students?
Be ambitious and follow your dreams. I was determined to do the PPS course, and I did, and then I was determined to do my Masters somewhere exciting, and I am!

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