Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Stefano Stortone

MA (RES) Democratic Studies | 2006 - 2007

Photo of Stefano Stortone

Where did you study for your undergraduate degree?
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano (Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Milan).

Why did you decide to study in the UK?
I needed to deep my democratic theory and research methods background, practice my english, and have a better knowledge of anglosaxon literature.

Why did you choose to study at POLIS and at Leeds?
I chose to study at POLIS as there was the perfect mix of theoretical and methodological courses (Reasearch and Methods; Quantitative Analysis; Democratic Theory and Political Transformation; Democracy and Development).

How did the course match your expectations?
The whole MA was fantastic as I had the perfect balance between theoretical and methodological courses: a good methodological background helped me to deal with theoretical issues, while at the same time deepening theoretical matters helped to understand better methodological issues.

What did you most enjoy about your course?
Topics, classes style (seminars, interaction between students and lecturers), literature, academic support (professors’ availability and helpfulness).

What would you say about the facilities in the School and at the University in general?
Excellent: library very well-provided with good timetable, internet access and PCs always available, administrative office super helpful! The amenities and sport facilities are very good!

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
Go there straightaway!

What are the main differences in studying in the UK as opposed to your home country?
Well…in Italy classes have a vertical, top-down, structures: professors teach and students listen. In UK they are pretty horizontal, much challenging and stimulating. With UK classes if you do your share of work – studying on your own before them – you can take advantage of the discussion, clarification and sharing opinions. In Italy you usually must study the whole course program, while in UK you can choose the part you feel more suitable for your interests.

How is life different in the UK to your home country?
Completely different! Houses, lifestyle. We used to have breakfast, lunch and dinner sat around a table but here the kitchen is not as part of the lifestyle as in Italy. As well as parties here are suitable to the size of houses and urban planning, which is quite different to the Italian cities. Nightlife is more or less similar.

What would you say to anyone from your home country thinking of studying in the UK/at POLIS?
Go there, it is a very good University…not really the city, but countryside and University are amazing!

What did you like best about Leeds?
Pubs, nightlife, countryside.

How has your course helped your career?
Very much! Very very much!  It was there I had the chance to discover and study in depth the topic which is the subject of my PhD dissertation: Participatory Democracy and Participatory Budgeting. English language gave me the chance to broad my literature knowledge. Today I’m finishing my PhD in Italy, I was in Brazil and I'm also actually working to improve Participatory Democracy in Italy.

Tell us about your favourite lecturer
Of course Dr. John Schwarzmantel. He has been my lecturer and my dissertation supervisor. He is a great person and a skillful lecturer. He led the course brilliantly, provoking the right questions and stimulating the right thoughts. During the dissertation supervision, he was always available and ready to help and provide useful insights to my writings. My current academic career is for large part his merit. I am still in contact and this is the best proof of what I just said.

What have you been doing since you graduated?
I am finishing my PhD, travelling a lot in relation to my studies and working as well.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Travelling, reading, doing sport activities.

What are your plans for the future?
I plan to further my academic career, doing research on democratic matter and working as well within civil society and politics.

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