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The University of Southampton

Charlotte Woods BA History

Internal Communications Coordinator at the University of Southampton

Charlotte Woods's Photo

I firmly believe that the presentation skills I learnt during my degree helped me secure my job as a Vice President at the Students’ Union, and the writing skills I have gained I use every day.

How did you get interested in history?

At school, I took history on a whim at GCSE and was encouraged by my teacher to take the subject at A level. I loved every second of it and had fantastic teachers. I had a keen interest in the reign of Elizabeth I and her relationship with her cousin Mary Queen of Scots. This led to an interest in women’s history.

Why did you choose to study history?

I enjoyed studying literature and the social context within which it was written. I believed that I would have more scope to study the social impact of and on literature through a history degree than I would through an English degree. I wanted to know about the society from which works of literature and later film came from.

What did you like most about your degree programme? /Which were your favourite branches of history?

I loved the fact that I was able to specialise without specialising! I chose a selection of modules that covered the Victorian period – meaning I was taught by an array of different lecturers with different specialisms and different takes on the same period. This gave me the broadest possible knowledge, understanding and scope for study of the Victorian period specifically. I also loved the fact that I was able to choose a completely new subject for my dissertation and had the support of dedicated tutors. I studied political literature, poetry and literary movements of Northern Ireland, particularly during the period of the Troubles.

What was the best thing about living and studying in Southampton?

I didn’t live in Southampton whilst studying but commuted from Poole. But what I loved about Southampton was the fact that the University is very much set in the real world. We are in the heart of a community here and the University is absolutely central to the city’s success and it is impossible to forget that; we live and learn in the heart of the city and get a real sense of how students fit into the wider community.

What have you been doing since you graduated?

In my final year, I was the sports editor of the student newspaper, the Wessex Scene. This led me to run in the student elections to be a Sabbatical Officer at the Students’ Union, SUSU. I successfully ran and won a campaign and took up office as the Vice President (Media and Communications) just after I graduated. I would really recommend getting involved with SUSU alongside your degree. It will probably be the only chance you get in life to try your hand at anything and everything, whether that be student politics, a sports club or student journalism. As VP Media and Comms, I was Editor in Chief of the student newspaper and was a trustee of the Students’ Union – a £7m organisation. I now work at the University as the Internal Communications Coordinator.

Has studying history at Southampton helped you in your career?

Absolutely. I now have finely tuned skills in presenting, researching, analysing and writing, to name a few. I firmly believe that the presentation skills I learnt during my degree helped me secure my job as a Vice President at the Students’ Union, and the writing skills I have gained I use every day.

Are you still interested in history?

Definitely – probably more so now that there isn’t that pressure to be dedicated to many different areas – I can now pick and choose when and how I devote my time to learning and reading.

Would you recommend studying the subject to other people?

Yes –if you are prepared to work independently and spend many hours reading. It sounds basic, but if you are not able to focus very easily, work alone or read a great amount in a short space of time then they are the skills that you need to fine tune before you start. The benefit of this is that you can, in many ways dictate your own learning; you have a great deal of independence in terms of the projects and topics that you research and write on. I would absolutely recommend history at Southampton – it’s a unique learning experience.

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