MA Social Research student, Helen Dannatt.

Helen Dannatt

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I come from Conisbrough, a small village in Doncaster. It is classed as a deprived area, and my secondary school had previously been in ‘special measures’. However, my teachers strongly encouraged me do my A-levels and aim for university. I went to Hall Cross Academy to study A-level Sociology, History and Chemistry. I then got accepted into the University of Leeds where I studied my undergraduate degree in Social Policy and Crime. I believe that my working class background largely contributed towards my passion for the course, in which I achieved a First Class degree. 

What motivated you to apply for your course at Leeds?

I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate degree, which fuelled my desire to continue studying sociology and social policy at a higher level. I chose the MA in Social Research due to the practical aspect of it. This course offers training in qualitative and quantitative methods which I thought would improve my employability. In addition, I was able to choose one optional module from the school which allowed me to tailor the course to my specific interests.

I initially chose Leeds for my undergraduate degree for several reasons. Firstly, it is in Yorkshire and fairly close to home - which is something I prioritised at the time. I already loved Leeds as a city, as I remembered regularly coming here to visit the Royal Armouries with my Grandma and Grandad when I was a child! In addition to my love for the city, the University of Leeds has the most impressive campus I have seen. The Union really made me feel at home. Also, I loved how the campus was like a little community in itself, yet it was so close to the buzz of the city centre.

Due to all of this, I did not consider doing my Masters at any other University.

How would you describe your experience at the University?

My course has been intellectually stimulating from the start. The wide range of modules combined with the depth of the content is very impressive. As predicted, I feel significantly more prepared to conduct social research in a real-life context due to the training provided. For me, the best thing about my course is the variety of assessments. I have produced a policy report, a research proposal, a questionnaire design paper, and a critical analysis of my undergraduate research. As well as being more enjoyable than the standard essay format, this varied form has better prepared me for possible future jobs.

How would you describe the guidance you've received?

There are multiple ways of contacting all members of staff throughout the year. For example, the school’s ‘Open Door’ policy which allows drop-ins to run every week. Also, staff are very accessible via email. I use this method of contact with my dissertation supervisor to ask quick questions or arrange meetings. Help and guidance in the school is not limited to discussing assignments, or even module content. No query is ever too small, and I am yet to meet a member of staff who isn’t incredibly friendly and approachable.

What do you think of the facilities?

There truly is an overwhelming range of options when it comes to study space. We have four large libraries as well as study space in our school building. My personal preference is to study in the Laidlaw library or in our school. This is because they are new buildings which are very modern, light and spacious! Also, there are exclusive study spaces for postgraduates both in the school and in Edward Boyle library.

The Union has everything you need for shopping, drinking, eating, studying and pampering. There is always a lively and positive vibe around campus. Also, the farmers market on a Monday is a lovely little addition!

Have you been granted any scholarships or won any awards?

I was lucky enough to be awarded both the Leeds Masters Scholarship and the school’s Academic Excellence Scholarship. This financial help has allowed me to fully engage with my course without the usual money worries I experienced through my years as an undergraduate. It also meant I could quit my part-time job at Asda and take up volunteering in Leeds.

Have you been involved in any extra-curricular activities?​​​​​​​

This year, I have been the MA Social Research course rep. I’ve enjoyed engaging with my course mates, getting to know more members of staff, and increasing my knowledge of how the school works. Also, it has been very exciting to contribute towards positive change in the school. I have gained so much from my time here, so it was nice to give something back.

Outside of university, I volunteer as a project worker at HealthWatch Leeds. I have conducted research in several departments of both St James Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary, collecting feedback from service users. The research aspect has complemented my degree perfectly, whilst improving my employability and aiding my personal development.

Are there any other comments you'd like to make?​​​​​​​

My four years in Leeds have been truly incredible. I now consider this city to be my home, and I plan to work and live here after my graduation. There is not one part of my university life that I would change. I’d describe the University of Leeds as diverse, inclusive and exciting, and I would recommend it to anyone.