Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Samantha Magnus

BA Politics and Parliamentary Studies | 2012-2016

Photo of Samantha Magnus

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I’m from Radlett (in Hertfordshire). I’m in my fourth year at Politics and Parliamentary Studies at Leeds, and live with 5 friends in Woodhouse. When I’m not stressing over an essay or my dissertation I enjoy swimming, shopping, theatre and eating (especially dessert).

What motivated you to apply to study your chosen course and why did you choose Leeds?

I studied Politics at A-Level at St Albans School. My teacher recommended applying for Politics and Parliamentary Studies, which I hadn’t actually heard of, but after researching the course I really liked the sound of it so I applied. I chose PPS because of the amazing opportunities on the placement year but also because of the British Politics lecturers, all of whom are really well published and very high calibre, because I liked the programme leader (who interviewed me), and because I wanted to do a course that would give me something different in terms of work experience, while I was studying. I chose Leeds not only because it was the only University that offered anything like PPS, but because I really liked the friendly, sociable atmosphere, the town and that we could do electives in other subjects if we wanted to branch out a bit.

What do you think of your course? Have there been any particular highlights for you?

My placement year was the obvious highlight. I spent the first 5 months in Washington, DC working for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. At work, I got the opportunity to really get to explore Congress, as well as to tour the White House, and I made some really good friends that I’m still in contact with now. I also became really close with my other course friends and we were able to travel to Philadelphia, New York, Rhode Island, Boston and San Francisco over the weekends or after our placement had finished. After Christmas, I worked until the election in the Office of Karen Bradley MP, before returning as a Parliamentary Assistant after the election. There I had a lot of responsibility, and really enjoyed working for my boss and her team, who were absolutely lovely.

How would you describe the help and guidance provided by the staff within the School?
The staff are friendly and approachable and will offer help to those who need it. Lecturers are both interested and hugely knowledgeable in their subject, and will always make time for you if you need any help, advice or support.

How would you describe the facilities at the University?

The facilities are fantastic. The Edge Gym facility is so good that several Olympic teams or individuals have used it to train, and the new library is beautiful and really easy to use. The Student Union has everything you would need in it from great food, to a bank and a post office, and there are many well equipped computer clusters and printing facilities throughout campus. POLIS also has a brand new, refurbished building with a lot of really good areas for private or group study, and an open lounge.

Since starting at the university have you been granted any scholarships, or won any awards for example?

I’m presenting my dissertation (on traditional coalition models and the 2010 British Coalition) at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research in Manchester this March, funded by Leeds’ Footsteps Fund Award.

Have you been involved in extra-curricular activities, such as societies, summer placements etc?

In my first year, I was the Campaigns Officer of Leeds Jewish Society – basically, I was in charge of all the political bits. I really enjoyed that, and have remained quite active since. I’ve also been on trips to Poland to learn about the Holocaust, and Odessa to volunteer with Jewish organisations. I go to the gym about 4 times a week to swim or take a class. In the holidays I work as a carer to earn a bit of extra money.

Any other comments you would like to make?

If you’re particularly interested in British – or even just practical, democratic - politics, I can’t recommend studying Politics and Parliamentary Studies enough. The wide curriculum allows you to branch into Political Theory, International Relations, Political Science or even something completely different (through electives) like law, languages or science. The tutors are talented and often very well-known and respected in their field. The placement year is an amazing opportunity to get to know yourself, to see another country/political system, gain some hugely valuable experience and make some life-long friends. There really aren’t any other courses like it available, and I have had an amazing time on it.

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