I was unsure initially about doing an MA, but I wished to advance my knowledge of the ideas I had found interesting at undergrad level. I looked at a few Universities and I chose Leeds as I was impressed by the choice of Masters courses, especially because of the relevancy of the components of the MA Democratic Studies, and also because of the ethos and reputation of the University.
The course more than met my expectations, I still think that it was one of the best decisions I ever made! It allowed me space to decide what I wanted to do after University, and to realise some of my strengths, which my undergraduate study (at another University!) did not.
I also met some great people and got to live in a great city. I would say, if you are thinking of studying an MA, if you have a genuine interest in the subject then it is definitely worth another year of study!
I enjoyed the fact that your opinions were listened to, and the atmosphere in the seminars was good- there was a lot more diversity of background and opinion in Leeds- it was interesting to hear the opinions of students from, for example, African countries who had actually experienced the things we were studying.
I think the University does a lot for its students- especially those from less well off backgrounds. I was given a travel bursary so I could travel to Northern Ireland to do some research, for example. Also the shops and bars on campus are very good.
I liked the friendly atmosphere at Leeds - it was easy to get talking to new people and it felt like the University cared about the students and what they could do to make their lives easier. I also liked the city itself as there was always something new going on and was the right size to get around everywhere easily.
The course allowed me to decide what sort of career would interest me and gave me more confidence to go for those sorts of jobs. It also allowed me a stepping-stone to study at PhD level which will obviously be very different from undergrad. I currently work for the Alliance Party. Working for a Political Party can actually encompass almost anything- from office work to helping organise events like Conferences – we hosted Morgan Tsvangirai in Belfast last year, to dealing with Constituents and press, and attending seminars and courses. It’s a great opportunity to gain working experience of Politics.
I enjoyed all the modules I took, as the lecturers seemed to be enthusiastic about their subjects and willing to discuss any problems, but I have been given a lot of support and advice since graduation by Dr John Schwarzmantel (course director). It's great to know that you are not forgotten after graduation!
I decided to undertake a PhD as when I was doing my Masters Research on democracy in Northern Ireland, I discovered that at the end of it there were still a lot of unanswered questions about self-imposed segregation and conflict that would warrant a separate study of these issues.
In short, my PhD research will be around the topic of the EU's involvement in ethnic and community conflict resolution, and approaches that may be applied to 21st century "post-national" European societies.
In my spare time I like travelling- I enjoy finding new places to go and things to see. I also enjoy reading, current affairs, art, yoga and going to gigs.
When I complete my PhD- (which is still a long time away!) I would like to be involved in community relations- I'd like to be able to make a difference at grassroots level. I would also like to continue working in the research and policy fields.