What were you doing before you started your course?

Prior to studying Politics, I was a History student at the University. I remember being won over by the scenic campus on an open day. I was especially impressed with the vast outdoor green-spaces and state of the art facilities. Most of all, the train-station on campus seemed very convenient for getting to and from the city centre. One of the things I enjoyed most about my undergraduate experience was the excellent sporting community. As an avid cricket nut, I have made many friends through both training and playing for the university. Furthermore, attending the fortnightly jazz nights at the ‘Indie Lounge’ in Selly Oak provided an opportunity for down-time during my studies and a chance to catch-up with friends. With regards to the teaching at the University, I was grateful for the support I received throughout my studies. In my final year, my dissertation advisor was especially encouraging. Not only would he send me extra resources to aid my research, but he would check-in on me to see how my well-being was.

Why did you choose your course at the University of Birmingham?

My passion for politics started during my history degree. In my final year, I opted to partake in a module titled ‘Terrorism in the USA’, which looked at various political violence carried-out throughout American history. We read a wide variety of secondary sources written by numerous academics from diverse fields. Reading David Cunningham’s (sociologist) work was particularly noteworthy because he investigated state responses to political violence. He compared the FBI’s reaction to both New Left and KKK violence in America. This sociological approach broadened my knowledge of other fields of study and allowed me to seek new ways of interpreting the topic of terrorism.

What has been your biggest achievement during your course?

My biggest personal and academic achievement on my course so far has been finishing my first ever politics essay. This was a 2,500 word essay on the impact of ideology on US foreign policy. I was very nervous throughout the whole process because I had only ever experienced writing History essays before. However, making the most of office hours for one to one chats with my lecturer helped me to achieve a mark I am very proud of.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering postgraduate study in your field?

Certainly go for it! It is an excellent opportunity to heighten your understanding of the discipline. Outside of studying, the University offers a rich selection of societies and sports which are well worth immersing yourself in. If you are considering postgraduate study, I would thoroughly advise you get thoroughly involved in both academic and non-academic facets of the University.

What, for you, are the best things about the course?

Firstly, the freedom you have with regards to reading. For example, with one of my modules (‘Globalisation and Governance’) we have been given the responsibility for picking the question and topic of our assignments. This has allowed me to delve into the specific areas I find most interesting. Secondly, I am really enjoying the breadth of topics. Currently, my favourite module is ‘Contemporary Security Challenges’, which focuses primarily on terrorism and political violence. So far we have looked at many different ways of studying terrorism. We have looked at: 1. Ways of defining ‘terrorism’ and the issues with definition 2. Looking at ‘terrorism’ from a historical perspective 3. Terrorism and the Cold War 4. Looking at ‘terrorism’ from a psychological perspective (my personal favourite) 5. Looking at ‘terrorism’ from the perspective of Social Movement Theory 6. In a few weeks time we are going to be looking at the ‘far-right’, which I am looking forward to As you can see from above, the module looks at a very broad perspective of security (political violence), which allows you to delve into traditional and non-traditional areas. The course has looked at many different case studies from all around the world. For example, the other week we looked at ‘lone wolf terrorism’, which had a case study for a Tokoyo-based terrorist group.

What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

I was fascinated by the vibrant postgraduate community in Birmingham. The international reputation of the department attracts such a variety of students, which provides a stimulating environment.