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Politics and International RelationsPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

Ollie Barrett BSc Politics and International Relations

2017 Graduate

Ollie Barrett's Photo

Southampton offers one of the only Politics degrees that is a BSc as opposed to a BA, which I found really attractive because of the employability aspect of developing quantitative skills.

Why did you choose to come and study at Southampton?

I chose Southampton for several reasons. At the time I was applying it was one of the only Politics degrees that was a BSc as opposed to a BA, which I found really attractive because of the employability aspect of developing quantitative skills, so they definitely led the way with moving perceptions of subjects like politics, sociology and economics etc. away from being simply theory based, but also about applying that theory using both quantitative and qualitative data. Obviously Southampton is a Russell Group university, and it had done really well in the REF (2014) that year for Politics, so I knew that I was going to get not only a quality degree, but a well-respected one as well.

What's it like studying here?

The student community is great as well, pretty much everyone that I’ve met has been really down to earth, and I think that’s a hallmark of Southampton, sort of understated but high-achieving. I think that there’s a great balance between academic work and social life here as well.

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

I think the thing that I enjoyed most about my course was engaging in lectures and seminars, and having a discussion with lecturers, tutors and my peers about important issues. Another thing that I enjoyed was writing practical assignments, like mock policy papers or reports, I felt like it really prepared me for a career after university. Lastly, something that I feel has been hugely important to my experience here has been the passion and fluency of knowledge of some of the lecturers on my course. When you come out of a lecture where the lecturer has been riffing about a topic that they’re clearly very passionate about, it makes you feel inspired and passionate about that as well, which is so important at university.

What have been your Southampton highlights?

It’s hard to pick out any highlights, because I guess that suggests a single moment, but that’s not what my experience has been, it’s been a consistently excellent experience academically, and consistently hilarious experience socially. If I had to choose some moments, then the fieldtrip to the Cabinet Office in London with the Innovations in Governance class was a great experience, the group work assignment for Research Skills in second year where we had to create a video dissemination of our research was one of the funniest things I’ve ever done. But overall, the highlights from my time in Southampton will simply be hanging out with mates in lectures, at the gym, at home, or on nights out, and studying a degree that actually interested me for three years. It’s been the best time of my life and I wish I could go back to the start and do it all again, but I can’t, so I’ll have to savour the memories and be glad that it happened.

How has your time at Southampton helped you to grow as a person?

I think the main way that I’ve grown as a person from my time at Southampton has been in terms of my confidence. I think everyone comes to university slightly unsure of themselves, whether they show it or not, because it’s a new environment, and you’re not sure if people are going to like you or if you’re going to have a good time or enjoy your course. But having made friends here and done well in my degree it’s made me gradually more confident as each year has passed, and I’ve become a lot more comfortable with who I am and my competence as an individual both socially and professionally.

What opportunities has studying at Southampton provided you with?

I’ve had quite a few opportunities here at Southampton, like the chance to take part in the semester-long Student Consultancy Programme where we were allocated into groups and were required to assist a local business with a real problem that they were facing (and got paid for it as well!), which was a great experience. Also I had an opportunity through the Excel Internship scheme to work at the University within the Marketing and Communications department (within the Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences) as a marketing intern, where I helped to interview and film graduates to create profiles for them online, and where I learnt how to edit videos using Adobe Premiere, which was a great skill to learn. My other responsibilities included doing market research on our competitor universities, writing a report of our findings, and monitoring the faculty’s social media accounts. It was such a useful and eye-opening experience, and I also had a great time doing it. Other things that I’ve done include writing for the student newspaper, The Wessex Scene, being a course rep during third year, taking part in a citizen science scheme run jointly by the Council and the University, and taking part in paid economics experiments. Those are only the ones that I can remember, and also only the opportunities that I took advantage of, there were loads more other opportunities available as well.

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