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Politics and International RelationsPart of Economic, Social and Political ScienceOur alumni

Emma Bihan-Poudec BSc Politics & International Relations, 2019

Conflict Research Officer, Consilient

Emma Bihan-Poudec's Photo

My time at Southampton made me discover my academic and professional interests. It was a lecture at the University of Southampton that made me realise I wanted to go to Iraq. I did, thanks to a former professor, and I haven’t stopped since. Southampton led me to great opportunities and the support I got there gave me the space, time and network to grow.

The variety of classes that were offered to us was extremely valuable and the time and support offered by the professors were also of great quality. You are given time to experiment and realise what you are truly interested in. Both professionally and personally, my time at the university made me evolve and find my way.

After I graduated, I completed a master’s degree which made me realise the quality of a BSc in Politics at Southampton. Sitting in a classroom with students from other top universities, some with previous master’s degrees, makes you realise the quality of your prior education. 

I am now a research officer, focusing on conflict in Somaliland, at a research firm dedicated to delivering localised insights, research and analysis to the aid and development community. The research experience I gained at Southampton and my field experience in several countries in Africa and the Middle East led me to this role.

From Iraq to Palestine, Djibouti and Colombia, the highlights of my career have been the people I have met and the stories I was lucky enough to hear or witness. Being in places where only a few people get to go and seeing the best of humanity in sometimes very dark contexts. Despite working in tough conditions or dangerous places, the highlights of my career so far have been seeing what people are capable of, even under the worst circumstances and having such meaningful interactions. Travelling to unique places and working in very diverse contexts is truly a chance and I am lucky that it has become my career. 

My advice to students would be to map out the societies and services you are interested in, the different services that are offered to you as a student. There are so many things offered at Southampton that it is hard to find or remember everything and I only discovered certain services in my last year. Try to figure out what you want to take out of your time at university and focus on that, while having fun. Take advantage of your first year to experiment with the classes you are unsure about. University is about so much more than your classes and your grades. Learn from your professors beyond the classroom and learn from your classmates too. Challenge your opinions, don’t be afraid to fail and get to know yourself. 

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