- Course: MA Security Terrorism and Insurgency
Please tell us a bit about yourself, where you are from, your background etc?
I am an Infantry Officer of the Nigerian Army with Fifteen Years of Service experience. Before I started my study in Leeds, I served for upwards of three years in the North Eastern part of Nigeria as part of the fight against the Boko Haram Terrorist Organization. Specifically, I was a Commanding Officer of an Infantry Battalion in the forward areas as part of the Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency military operations.
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
Having served as a military counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operative, I wanted to add academic value to the practical experiences I had already gained in the field in order to broaden my horizon on issues relating to Terrorism and Insurgency with a view to enriching the knowledge base of my organization on my return to Nigeria. The course is also very relevant to enhancing my career prospects in the Army. Consequently, I went through the University of Leeds module outline for my course online preparatory for my application. I found that the module outline was very rich in content and relevant to my field and decided to apply for the course. Furthermore, University of Leeds UK ranking emboldened me to apply to this institution as well as recommendations I received from some friends that had studied in Leeds. I also found that the university has a very high reputation for excellence globally and a member of the 24 Russell Group research-intensive universities in the UK.
What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?
Terrorism and Insurgency is a new phenomenon in Nigeria. My country was confronted with the menace when we least expected and therefore had to struggle with the severe challenges inherent in asymmetric warfare. Given that my country is on a learning curve in the field of study on terrorism and insurgency, I found it very exciting to be privileged to have the unique opportunity to undertake this course (Security Terrorism and Insurgency) offered only by the University of Leeds in the UK. I look forward to completing my studies in Leeds so that I can impart the knowledge gained to my colleagues and subordinates back home.
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 has been very interesting and educative. Specifically, I enjoyed the Seminar sessions as well as re-shaped my understanding on a whole lot of Social Sciences theories across a range of fields relevant to my programme. Furthermore, the course has sharpened my critical thinking, critical reading, critical writing and research methods skills beyond my expectations. Indeed, it has been an amazing academic experience so far.
What would you say about the learning facilities in the School and at the University in general?
The University of Leeds has an excellent range of learning facilities and online resources to enrich research in various fields. The libraries are well stocked with relevant books and online journals as well as extremely conducive for group discussions. Also, there are professional and friendly Library staff members that are ever willing to assist students around the Libraries. Leeds also offers a range of free online courses and workshops to help support learning. I attended various courses offered by the Skills@Library covering topics such as critical thinking, critical writing, interpreting the task, language for expressing opinions in your writing, when to cite, how to read an academic article and writing skills for taught Masters among others. Indeed, these learning opportunities were extremely invaluable towards enhancing my assessed coursework. Furthermore, there are various computer clusters in different locations around the campus for students to use in support of their studies.
How do you find the student support in the School?
The University of Leeds has an excellent student support Service system ranging from academic support, international student support and advice, guidance and counselling, mental health and well-being, language support, accommodation support, job links and volunteering among others. The IT support was awesome, and I was able to resolve some technical issues with my personal computer promptly and expeditiously.
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).
There are a whole lot of clubs and societies as well as volunteering opportunities in Leeds. The Leeds university union provides social opportunities and facilities in a wide range of activities. There are over 300 student-led clubs and societies to join based on your interests. I joined the French and Romanian Clubs as well as benefited from an organized trip to France at reduced rates arranged by the French society.
I am involved in a charity program in Leeds where I donate some money monthly to a charity organisation called Scope in support of children suffering from various forms of disability. I feel this is an avenue for me to contribute to the Leeds community and the UK for giving me a life-changing academic opportunity in my quest for self-development.
What do you think about Leeds as a city?
Leeds is a very vibrant, neat and interesting city with a whole lot of fun spots such as cinemas and eateries as well as green spaces to unwind with friends during your free time. Specifically, I found the people in Leeds to be very friendly and always willing to help strangers. I also loved the beautiful architecture of some amazing buildings in the city centre such as the Victoria Quarter and the Grand Arcade. Furthermore, there are a variety of modern malls and shopping areas such as Trinity and Victoria Gate with a range of top brands for sale. I took advantage of the seasonal sales and was able to change my entire wardrobe.
What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
Make no mistake, my course of study is very detailed and comprehensive and would encourage anybody seeking to apply for the programme not to hesitate to take advantage of a life-changing opportunity in an international environment with students and faculty members from several countries. Suffice to mention that I had the opportunity of attending Kings College, London, having also been offered a place there, but I am so glad I chose Leeds. The University of Leeds has outstanding academics and world-class facilities that enable students to become whatever their academic aspirations might be. Indeed, my academic journey in Leeds has been phenomenal.
What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course? What are your career aspirations?
At the end of my course, I look forward to returning to my country to seek to work at the Counter Terrorism and Counterinsurgency Centre, which is a think tank for the Office of the National Security Adviser to the President. Additionally, I aspire to work for the United Nations and other multinational Institutions on security related issues when the opportunity is available.