Rebecca Yates, graduate of BA Politics and Parliamentary Studies.

Rebecca Yates

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m from St. Albans, just North of London, and have lived there all my life. I have inherited from my parents a passion for travelling, learning about different cultures and trying new experiences, as I have always been encouraged to make the most of all opportunities available.

Outside of university, I have been on multiple French exchanges and last summer I travelled to Thailand for a month to teach English to Thai children and help out at an elephant sanctuary.

Coming to the University of Leeds has opened the door to even more opportunities as I am excited to say I am going to Canada next year to do a placement in the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.

What motivated you to apply for your course at Leeds?

I chose Leeds as my course, which is unique to the University in that it is the only politics course that has a guaranteed placement in parliament, which is an amazing opportunity to gain political experience and develop contacts for a future career in politics.

More general reasons why I chose Leeds is because I knew I wanted to go to university in a big city with lots going on day and night. However, I found a tendency in Bristol or London to feel quite lost in the city, as university buildings and accommodation are all rather spread out.

Leeds was the perfect middle ground as it is not a campus University, but all buildings are based in one area of the city which is not too far from the town centre, where there are lots of good restaurants, bars and shops, or the lively student area of Headingley with its cute cafes, pubs and charity shops. Moreover, being in the North it is a lot cheaper and everyone is much friendlier, making it worth having to bare slightly worse weather!

Tell us about your parliamentary placement.

I have opted for the option to do half a year working in the Canadian parliament and half a year in Westminster. I am really interested to see why Canada is ranked much higher on the world’s democracy index, yet it is modelled on our parliament.

What do you think of your course?

I feel very lucky to have got onto my course as it has given me so many opportunities: not only through a placement year, but guest speakers, parliament visits and even the opportunity to work at the Harriet Harman lecture, thanks to my personal tutor putting forward the names of me and my fellow parliamentary studies students.

Another highlight is the intimacy and friendly atmosphere that has resulted from the course only being open to 12 students, many of whom I am sure will be friends for life.

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

My personal tutor, Cristina, has been particularly helpful as she is quick to respond to emails and is available in her office hours if we ever want to talk things through with her. Similarly, other staff in the School all have office hours that it is possible to visit them in, albeit some professors are easier to reach than others!

How would you describe the facilities at the University?

Across the many different academic libraries and cafés there are a good range of places to suit different preferences. Similarly, most reading resources can be accessed online, but it is not always easy to find and there are still many readings that aren’t digitised in an age when most people do their work from their laptop at home.

Have you been involved in any extra-curricular activities?

I joined the tennis society last year and the athletics society this year, attending socials and sessions run by the society. 

I am also social secretary of Leeds Young Liberal Society which entails weekly meetings with my fellow committee members to organise frequent events, including spirited discussions, Bongos Bingo, trips to the annual Liberal Democrat conference and campaigning in Leeds. 

I was recently fortunate enough to attend and work at the Harriet Harman lecture, which was inspirational as a fellow woman interested in politics, as it highlighted how far women have come in striving for better representation in parliament, but also how much work there is still to be done. It has motivated me to join the struggle to make Britain a more equal society, not only in parliament and not only for women. Whilst I do not want to be an MP, as I do not want to get involved in party politics, I hope to help make a difference from behind the scenes in my future career.