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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political SciencesUndergraduate study

James Binns Sociology and Social Policy

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Hi, I'm James Binns and I studied Sociology and Social Policy within Social Sciences at the University of Southampton.

The wonderful thing about a Southampton University degree is that the subject matter we are taught enables us to go into the workplace with confidence and we are able to apply our knowledge critically.

I decided to study Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Southampton for several reasons. Firstly, Southampton University is a world renowned academic institution with leading academics in their fields of research. Secondly the degree course itself was flexible, giving me the opportunity to take modules outside of the Sociology and Social Policy Department. Furthermore, the lecturers appeared to be incredibly enthusiastic about their areas of research, and finally the vast number of student societies attracted me to Southampton. 

Over the three years that I was at the University of Southampton my degree taught me to understand the great social and political differences between western democracies and the developing nations of the world, from a more considered and multifaceted perspective. In particular the broad range of knowledge that I gained about social policy has complemented my outside interests in politics, providing me with the tools to understand the impact of government policy on everyday life and amongst different social groups.

Having been elected in 2011 as one of the country's youngest District Councillors, the subject matter of my degree has proved utterly invaluable in helping me to critically understand the current structural and political changes that are being made to government intuitions, and society at large. As well as the socio-economic micro-level implications these changes might have on individuals and their families in areas such as housing and crime. The changing nature of the welfare state, in terms of health and social care, has also been an interesting area of study for me during my degree, at the same time as dealing with many of the changes first hand with constituents. The knowledge I was able to obtain whilst a student at the University enabled me to tackle the real life examples I was dealing with, with the utmost care, consideration and understanding, because primarily of what my degree had taught me. The wonderful thing about a Southampton University degree is that the subject matter we are taught enables us to go into the workplace with confidence and we are able to apply our knowledge critically.

As a consequence of my University career and outside activities, I now wish to pursue the social and political academic world in greater depth, expanding my knowledge and my understanding. I have always had a great vigour and love for everything in the socio-political sphere, and this interest was only made greater by my enthusiastic and supportive lecturers. Having been a part of the democratic process by voting and standing for election, I now want to pursue an in-depth academic career in the sphere of democracy and comparative governance. In no small part thanks to my undergraduate degree at Southampton I now have the confidence to do this, and having a degree from a reputable institution such as the University of Southampton was certainly a key factor in enabling to me to obtain a place on a Masters Degree course at UCL. To Southampton I owe a great deal in nurturing my enthusiasm for my academic area of interest and for their constant support. 

In terms of student support facilities Southampton is truly leading the way. Whilst studying at the University I unfortunately had a number of personal tragedies which greatly impacted upon my studies. Though times were sometimes difficult, the level of support I got from my tutor, my lecturers and the department in general was extraordinary. They truly went above and beyond in ensuing that I was able to complete assignments to the best of my ability, without fear of late submission penalties or fear of failure. The counselling service I found most useful and the flexibility of the department to deal with my personal matters was exceptional.

Having been able to thoroughly enjoy a first class academic life at Southampton alongside a working political one, and submerging myself in the intellectually stimulating theoretical battle of ideas offered to me at the university, has left me with an absolute passion and determination to continue my studies. The past three years at University has enabled me to develop balanced and considered judgements outside of my political affiliations, enabling me to not simply toe the party line but to be critical and take into account all theoretical ideas, regardless of ideology. To analyse policy and to note the impacts is also very important, something that those in local and national government often forget to do, yet a Southampton University degree teaches as imperative. Having initially been quite a quiet person when I first started my degree, it is true to say that I am now very outspoken. I thrive in debate and the challenge of trying to convince others to my way of thinking, however I am quite prepared to admit when I am wrong and learn from that experience. Having lecturers who actively engage with students during class, who ask their opinions, and work to enhance our individual knowledge in anyway that they can, gave me the confidence I now have.  

The University of Southampton boasts an impressive array of extra curricular activities and societies, from skiing to fencing, drama to debating, Southampton has one of the largest number of societies in the country. Whilst studying I was delighted to be tasked with presenting the Student Union election coverage for the University's award winning student television station (SUSUtv), and being given the unique opportunity to interview and question candidates on their policies. This was something I had never thought to do before, television and journalism was not an area that had previously interested me. However, being given the opportunity to make student politics interesting on a platform that would reach over 30,000 Southampton students was as irresistible offer I could not refuse. Having tried the experience and found a new passion I am subsequently looking at future work in the area of political journalism as a result of the opportunities offered to me through the Students Union at Southampton.

My undergraduate degree from Southampton has given me the analytical and theoretical knowledge that is crucial to succeed in any career of a socio-political nature. I have many ambitions in life but having a first class education from Southampton will, I am sure, give me the best opportunity of every success. If you want an engaging, academically stimulating and nurturing education, the type which help to enhance your interests and enable you to be critical then I can suggest to you no better choice then the University of Southampton. For me it was absolutely the right choice as my degree from Southampton has enabled me to achieve so very much in such a short period of time.


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