Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Richard Vale

BA International Relations (European) | 2008 - 2012

Photo of Richard Vale

About me
I originally went to Durham to study Law but worked out pretty soon that both the course and the small town were not suited to me – I’ve always lived between Leeds and Manchester so have been used to busy cities.

I thought it might be pretty difficult to transfer to a new course at a new uni but Leeds couldn’t have made the transition any easier. I just wish I’d applied to Leeds in the first place!

Why I wanted to study at Leeds
I was actually rather reluctant to apply to a University so close to where I grew up, but I’m so glad I eventually went for Leeds; the city’s incredible, the nightlife is great, and the campus is really central.

I liked the look of the course because there were a lot of different modules on offer and, being a member of the Russell Group, I knew that the focus on research at Leeds would mean that the course content would be really up-to-date.

My passion for IR

I like being able to switch on the news and apply what I’ve learnt in lectures and seminars to contemporary events – it’s always good to have a reminder that what you’re studying is relevant to everyday life and studying International Relations has just made me more determined to pursue a future in a related field where I can continue working in a subject area I feel passionate about.

The course
I have genuinely loved every minute of my course and will definitely be sad to leave Leeds in a few months – the tutors in POLIS have always been willing to go the extra mile to help me get the most out of my degree and the modules on offer have really allowed to focus on a few specific areas I am interested in.  

The highlight of the course has to be going to study in Belgium for a year, I met some amazing people and had the opportunity to explore some subject areas I might not otherwise have been able to choose.

When I arrived, I half-expected the campus to be really industrial-looking so I was surprised when it was actually pretty green and quite open, which is pretty ideal since I find myself spending a lot of time in and around University.  I was also surprised how close-knit the student community is here at Leeds which is good for making friends and settling in in the first few weeks.

City life
I’ve been coming to Leeds since I was younger so I’ve always loved it as a city but I still manage to find new bars and restaurants whenever I go out.  

The city is always being developed and that there’s always something new to try.  The fact that the city is slightly separate from campus is great for when you feel you need a break from studying because you can really separate the two different aspects of life at Leeds.

Outside of study
There is pretty much every society imaginable here at Leeds and I’ve got involved with a few during my time here.  I’ve written for both the student paper and student radio as well and have worked for a University department over summer and during term-time to make some extra money.  

I have a part-time job and so that bit of extra money is always appreciated and means that I can really make the most of my time here.  I tend to spend my downtime going out with friends.  Over the years I have become involved with a few voluntary initiatives within POLIS which makes me feel like I am contributing to the department whilst building skills for my CV.

My future
I’ve tried to keep my options open and have applied for a few postgraduate courses and government grad schemes.  Both POLIS and the uni in general have been great at making me aware of all the options and my tutors have been more than happy to talk over all these with me.

Even though I’ll be sad to say goodbye to uni life I really feel like I’ve reached a plateau at the end of my studies and I feel almost ready to enter the real world.

I’d say that Leeds definitely deserves some serious consideration – the course is great, the student’s union is the best in the country, the city has loads of offer and there really is something for everyone to get involved with.  

I think coming to one of the open days is an excellent way to chat to current students and get a real sense of what it’s like to live and study in Leeds.

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