Rachael Courtney

Rachael Courtney

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I worked full time in Newcastle for around 10 years in a variety of different jobs including administration, hospitality, and event management. I decided to come to Leeds as a mature student to obtain my degree in something I am passionate about.

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

In 2016 I volunteered in Malawi for 6 months through the International Citizen Service. My time in Malawi opened my eyes to real, pertinent issues in the Global South. I felt motivated to learn more about development issues and decided to pursue a degree in International Development at Leeds. I chose Leeds as the course offered a placement in Ghana for second year, unfortunately due to COVID19 it was cancelled, however the degree has been extremely enlightening and provided me with many new transferrable skills for my future career.

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

Studying International Development has been an extremely rich learning process. I am really interested in history and so learning about the slave trade, colonialism and the aid chain has been thought-provoking and insightful. There are many modules available within the School of POLIS, so there is a good opportunity to mix the more traditional modules of development with Politics or International Relations modules. The degree has motivated me to strive to work towards a better world for impoverished and marginalised people.

How would you describe the help and guidance provided by the staff within the School?

I have a great relationship with my personal tutor, who is always there to support me with my studies and life issues! I have found the staff within POLIS approachable, helpful, and understanding whenever I have struggled with aspects of the course.

How would you describe the facilities at the University?

The facilities at Leeds are fantastic; the libraries and learning areas are all very different and cater to individual learning styles, some spaces are older and more traditional whereas others are state-of-the-art and modern. It’s a great blend of the two. The Student Union is a great spot to relax and catch up with friends, and there’s plenty of food and drinks establishments throughout campus.

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

I was a member of the Yoga society throughout first and second year but have yet to get back into it this year. I am currently a member of the cross-country society, where I run every Monday night – this is a great opportunity to destress! I’m also a final year course representative in which I liaise with my fellow students on issues pertaining to our course and feed this back to the Student Staff Partnership.