Hollie Robson

Please tell us a bit about yourself, where you are from, your background etc?

I am originally from Newcastle and came to Leeds to study in 2013, where I did my bachelors in German and International Relations. I then decided to stay on at Leeds to do my MA as I had such a great experience.

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

Having studied terrorism a lot at undergraduate, I thought this MA sounded great. When applying for other MAs across the country, many of the ones on terrorism did not include insurgency, as this one does, and so I thought it would be a great opportunity to study security issues through this lens, which is not as widely offered across the country. I also chose to stay studying in Leeds and in the POLIS department, as I had such good experience at undergraduate, and knew that the department offers loads of support, great opportunities, and a really high standard of teaching. The 10% discount for alumni was also a great bonus!

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

Because terrorism is a relatively new phenomenon, it always feels very current and therefore really interesting. More broadly with a course like this or any in the school of politics, the nature of what we’re studying changes all the time, so there’s always opportunity to be cutting edge and really exploring new elements to world politics. This makes studying so much more interesting, and therefore personally makes me more passionate about it, as I want to find out more and more.

What do you think of your course so far – what aspects of the course have you enjoyed the most or are looking forward to the most?

The course content is really good, and I think that has been the highlight so far. Studying things I did not really know much about before, such as the connection between world politics and popular culture, in the PIED 5547M module. The teaching has also been really good in the course, and lecturers have always gone above and beyond in supporting student learning, and new ideas across the modules.

What would you say about the learning facilities in the School and at the University in general?

The amount of learning facilities at the University are great. With 4 libraries, there’s so much access to information, and spaces to learn it’s really useful. The POLIS department itself provides great spaces to work and share ideas and also puts on a great deal of extra-curricular opportunities such as guest speakers and careers help, which add to the learning experience. Lecturers are also really keen to share new ideas they’re working on whether formally or informally, which also makes for a great learning environment.

How do you find the student support in the School?

Student support in the school is absolutely amazing, the department has ran campaigns which push for extra support for students in terms of mental health and stress, which I think is a great step forward in supporting students as best as possible. In terms of academic support, this too is great, and often lecturers put on ‘office hours’ and drop-in sessions outside of term time, or normal working hours to help students learn better and achieve more.

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself? (e.g. Clubs & Societies/activities in the School).

The University, in general, has so many societies to join, that anyone would be struggling not to find at least one they would enjoy. Personally, I was a member of the German society and POLIS society at undergraduate, and have continued to be a member of POLIS this year. In the school, activities are organized all the time, as a way to make students feel more included as part of a department community. These include community events every term, events specific to international students, as well as a range of sports and activities to make everyone feel like more of a community. As the course rep for my course, I have been present in a lot of the meetings arranging these events, and a lot of effort goes into making everyone feel welcome within the POLIS department.

What do you think about Leeds as a city?

Leeds is a great place to be a student and having been here for almost five years, I can comfortably say there’s not just something for everyone, but also more things to be discovered the longer you stay here. Student areas of Hyde Park and Headingley are really great social areas with loads of good bars and places to have fun. The city centre itself is also great and has loads of good bars, clubs and places to enjoy yourself. The city’s also big enough to have everything you need, but not too big that you feel lost, as maybe would be the case in London or Manchester

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

That it’s a great course, and you can edit it to fit your interests in the field of security studies really well. There’s a broad range of approaches you can take to study what you really find interesting. All in all, it’s a very interesting course and I would recommend it to anyone thinking of studying security studies, or even who just has an interest in politics and international relations.

What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course? What are your career aspirations?

At present, I’m still a little unsure of my exact career direction, but I am considering further study, and looking for PhD opportunities, and also considering a career in the PREVENT programme, which deals with preventing terrorism and radicalization taking place in the UK.