MA social and public policy student Sama Hassan

Sama Hassan

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

I am Sama Hassan, born and raised in Cairo, Egypt and I majored in Political Science and double minored in History and Sociology as an undergrad. I worked for two years in a think tank under the auspices of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the Program Associate of the Women, Peace and Security Program and ever since I became convinced that, as cliché as it sounds, that the future is indeed women.

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

My work in the peace and security field was mainly centred around research that fed into the decision and policy-making process of the Egyptian policy-making scene. My line of work however, stopped at the research part and I was always intrigued as to how it translates into policies. The MA programme of Social and Public Policy was therefore the best fit as it combines research with the know-how of policy making.

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

It’s the opportunity that it presents to instigate policies that can cause change in the area you’re passionate about. Almost all aspects of our lives are governed by public and social policies and so a shot at changing, amending, or instilling new policies with the objective of making people’s lives better is what interests me the most.

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?

So far, the program started out by laying the foundations of social research, which in my opinion is a key aspect for students who do not have a background in Sociology; it then started to delve deep into our specific interests that will lead up to the dissertation. The best thing in the program is the personalised experience you get in writing your dissertation, starting from the topic choice that you have complete freedom in choosing, up to designing your own research approach and methods. This is also always accompanied by help from your supervisors along the way to make sure you are on the right track. 

What would you say about the learning facilities at the University of Leeds? 

Most of my classes are seminars and they are in person, the experience of sharing thoughts and ideas on the assigned readings is always invigorating and insightful. We also have ‘Minerva’ that is the online platform where we can access our learning resources and submit our assessments which I found very user friendly and needed little to no guidance on how to use it. 

How do you find the student support from the School?

The school offers a range of support from academic to psychological support and they never fail to respond to any kind or assistance a student might need.

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones have you tried out yourself?

The university has about 300 clubs and societies so there is something for everyone ranging from sports to politics and arts. I personally enjoy the hiking trips that are organized by the sports clubs as well as the day trips to the nearby cities.

What do you think about Leeds as a city?  

As a city, Leeds has tons to offer. From the diverse cuisines, the museums and galleries to its warm people and their welcoming vibes, it is a city that has something for everyone. 

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

Think about your true passion, what topic engages you and makes you question the things around you the most, and if the answer is always societies and policies then this program is the one for you. 

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

I am planning to work with women migrants to get a better sense of what their problems are and the obstacles they face in looking for stable lives. I then aim to a work for organisations like the UNHCR or IOM to be positioned within the actual mechanism that affects and to some extent draft migrant related policies.