Thomas brooke

Tom Brooke

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Yeovil in the South West of England and grew up in a small town nearby, where my dad was a teacher and my mum was a journalist. I’m always grateful of the sheltered, privileged environment which I grew up in, although I try to avoid letting this privilege shape my perceptions of the world. One of my greatest passions is football, both watching and playing, and you are bound to find me on any given Saturday in different stadiums across Yorkshire and beyond.

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

The MA course in International Relations provides me an invaluable opportunity to gain a more nuanced understanding of what shapes our world and how we can influence it. I feel that the course has a perfect mixture of theoretical modules, as well as the more practically-oriented. I also knew that, with the eclectic range of societies and activities on offer at the university and in city of Leeds, my free time would always be well spent.

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

Understanding what shapes the world and to what extent we humans can feasibly improve outcomes across the world, is what drives me through my course. I’m fascinated by the idea that in identifying new opportunities for cooperation across borders in the world, many of the problems we face can be improved and even solved.

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?

I’m genuinely taken a bit aback by how much I’m enjoying the course which may sound more than a little cheesy, but it’s true! The seminars have always provided me an opportunity to express my thoughts on the topic in question, but above all to listen to my peers and refine or qualify my opinion: it is a truly collaborative learning experience. I really look forward to doing the dissertation as it is not something I have done before and the discipline required to complete it will no doubt prove useful in later life.

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

The libraries are fantastic spaces to learn and have been thoughtfully designed for the students’ benefit. I love, for example, the way they are split between silent study spaces and areas where you can talk with peers for group work or just for a well-earned study break. I have also never had a problem finding the relevant resource (book, article, etc.) online or in hard copy in the one of the libraries.

How would you describe the student support and community at Leeds? Have you taken part in any co-curricular or social events you would like to mention?

My course is very social and I have made friends who come from all over the world very quickly through my seminars. Since there is a focus on working together, we are obliged to pool our energies and also learn a bit about each other. In terms of welfare, the University of Leeds really tries its utmost to look out for all of its students. Of course, there are many worries and anxieties which students feel, particularly after the opening of much of the university, which are still very prevalent on campus, but there are distanced social events being hosted on campus such as film screenings. 

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

The range of societies on offer is astounding and I’m sure there’s something for almost anybody at Leeds. I’m currently a member of three societies: the Spanish Latin American and Portuguese Society to keep in touch with my Bachelor’s in Spanish; the Film Society because of long-standing interest in movies and the Casual Kickabout Society (which, by the way, is such a great idea for a society) to stay in shape.

What do you think about Leeds as a city?

I am absolutely in love with this city. It’s so vibrant and still fairly affordable, full of venues from gaming bars, to pubs, to night clubs. There is also so much beautiful countryside so close by (such as Ilkley Moor) which is great for a small-town boy like me. Leeds really is a student’s paradise.

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

Come up and see it for yourself! I would strongly encourage anyone to come up here and make the most of our student ambassadors so you can take a look around the city and hear from a first-hand source what it would be like to study here. You then be better placed to make an informed decision on whether you would like to study here or not.

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

This is a tough question for me to answer, but I intend to use my MA to move into some area of governance - possibly a NGO related to migration/refugees - where I would be working to improve outcomes. I could also definitely see myself staying in Leeds because I have found it such a fantastic place to live. So it might be the case that I decide to stay here and simply see what job I can find.