Alumni statement archive

Debora Oddo, MSc in International Relations

During the year before the MSc programme I was working as an Au Pair in Birmingham. At the same time I was taking English classes in order to pass the IELTS test. Before that, I studied at the University of Bologna, Italy. I graduated in July 2012 obtaining a Bachelor Degree in International and Diplomatic Affairs.

I was accepted by both the University of Bristol and Sheffield. I chose Bristol because I liked the programme and the individual units, besides the prestige of the University. I specifically chose the MSc in International Relations because I think it was useful in giving me the right skills for my desirable jobs, which include either the Italian Foreign Ministry or in an International organisation (e.g. UN). I am also considering applying for PhD studies too.

During the programme I learned a very different way of studying, by the way seminars are structured. There was always space for a debate and professors were really available in helping out. The multicultural environment really helped me in opening my mind and in creating friendships for life.  Bristol itself is absolutely amazing! You can find whatever you want and it is very unlikely that you will get bored in such a vibrant and diverse city.

I am now working as an intern in the Division of Water Sciences of UNESCO (Paris). I got the internship especially thanks to my preparation in International Human Rights, which I got in Bristol. In five years time, if I continue on this path, I see myself working for one of the UN agencies around the world.

Callum Johnson, MSc in Social and Cultural Theory (2015-2016)

The network of support at the University helped me to perform well academically, and perhaps more importantly, assisted with my wider intellectual development . Bristol hasn't just improved me as an academic, but as a person too - I have nothing but gratitude for the University.

Christopher Kearney, MSc in International Security (2013-14)

Before I came to study at Bristol I did a BA in Politics and Law at the University of Munster, Germany. I chose to study at the MSc in International Security at the University of Bristol as I wanted to focus on the nature of security as a field. My favourite part of studying at Bristol was the people I met and the unit tutors.

Over the next five years I‘d like to have completed my doctorate and be working for a think tank or university applying my research skills and critical thinking.

Peny Sotiropoulou, MSc in Ethnicity and Multiculturalism (2013/14)

Studying at the University of Bristol is an amazing experience. The University is a thriving community and there are a lot of engaging activities for every taste. My program armed me with knowledge that clearly influenced me both as a member of the academic community as well as as a member of the wider society. The courses include up to date information from a variety of countries. The professors are helpful, kind and approachable, and always willing to support you with any task. This program helped me broaden my horizons and helped me combine my academic background in Primary Education with Multiculturalism, Racism and matters of educational inequalities.

I am currently working as a supply teacher in Primary Education in Bristol, as a volunteer in a Social Project with teenagers and as a note keeper at the University of Bristol, while opting for a PhD next year. Studying at the University of Bristol will make you learn about academic working as well as volunteering opportunities worldwide. I wholeheartedly advise everyone to try the experience of being a UoB student.

Freddie Martyn, MSc in International Development (2013-14)

Before I came to Bristol I studied Geography at the University of Toulouse in France. I chose the University of Bristol for the academic prestige and Bristol being a great city. The reason I chose to study the MSc in International Development was because of my interest in Development. My favourite part of the programme was the international environment and the great teaching. I also enjoyed meeting new friends. Since finishing the Masters programme I am now working at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Katalina Carrasco, MSc in Gender and International Relations (2013-14)

Before I came to study at Bristol I did an LLB in Law at UCL. I chose to study a Master’s degree at Bristol for the combination of Gender and International Relations, knowing I wanted to work in international development. There are not many other gender programmes and this programme is quite broad.

I particularly liked the helpful staff and living in the city. Coming from London, there aren’t many other cities I would like to live in.

I am currently working at the Global Innovation Fund. In the next five years I see myself progressing, still working in international development, preferably in gender.

Tom, MSc International Relations (2012-13)

A proposal to live across the Severn and continue with my day job at Cardiff's city museum while commuting a day a week to study part time in Bristol could have been a fast track to rejection; however the staff at the department made every effort to accommodate me. Both before registration and up to the successful end of my studies two years later the support was fantastic; I was able to fit seminars around workplace commitments, receive grades via email, and manage tuition fees over the duration of the course.

While vital, this support would have been of little consequence without a cracking programme of study backing it up. If you put in the time and effort your enthusiasm was rewarded by top class teaching staff ready to engage with the postgraduate community.

Thanks to the skill set that I have gained at Bristol I have recently secured an internship at NATO's Allied Command Transformation Headquarters in Virginia.

Florence (Germany), MSc International Relations (2010/11)

Having come from a Management background I thought I would find it overwhelming to start a Masters in International Relations, but I was very wrong. The supportive environment and staff in SPAIS enabled me to make the most of a year in Bristol and actually thrive in this new field. Aside from the broad teaching within the course, the number of conferences, talks and other event organized in the University provided much room for more specialized interests to be satisfied.

Indeed, with such a thriving community in the University, there are plenty of opportunities to already get involved, meet academics and practitioners as well as get involved one self. I for instance helped on the committee of the International Development Conference organised by the Bristol HUB. This was a chance for me to make interesting contacts in the field as well as learn directly from their experience.

Beyond the academic environment, Bristol was a great place to live, a mini-London of sorts! From night clubs, theater performances and festival to taking a stroll in the countryside and exploring the delights of a farmers market, there is always something happening. For those in need of more, London is only a couple hours away…

I have recently started an internship at the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva after a yearlong break traveling the world, exploring many countries that one only knows from News Headlines, seminars and journal articles. I now find myself applying much of the knowledge acquired during my time in SPAIS as well as using the contacts made at the time, all enriched by my experiences during my travels.

All in all I look back at my time in Bristol with great fondness, hoping somehow my ‘yet to be started’ career will bring me back there one day!

Natalie Jester, MSc Gender and International Relations (2011-12)

I studied for my undergraduate degree in politics at the University of Bristol; it was here that I first became interested in gender, especially around women's political representation in the UK. I decided to take the Gender and International Relations MSc and, perhaps unsurprisingly, my interest shifted towards gender on a more global scale.

I am now just about to go into my third year of my PhD and looking back on it, my Masters really was the making of me, both personally and intellectually. During the Masters, I was taught by some of the most respected scholars in the field, including Professors Jutta Weldes and Terrell Carver (who are now my thesis supervisors). I can't emphasise enough how brilliant it is to be taught by people who are actually undertaking research, and are able to bring this into their teaching.

The second huge bonus to doing a Masters in SPAIS is the academic community; there are extra seminars, workshops, lectures, reading groups, several research centres and more, on a huge range of topics including gender and security. The staff are always very keen to include MSc students in these things. The Masters courses in SPAIS attract a wide variety of fascinating people, so I made a lot of friends during that year, and I think the vast number of events was very useful for getting to know everyone!

Two other things were useful for preparing for a PhD:

1) Some of the MSc units allow you to undertake a research project, and you finish with a dissertation on a topic of your choice.

2) There was an opportunity to take units on research methods.

Overall, I really loved studying for a Masters in SPAIS, and I think there are benefits to studying for an MSc in this particular department.

Laura (UK), MSc Social Science Research Methods (Sociology) (2010/2011)

I found the course to offer a comprehensive and detailed background to a huge range of issues within social research as well as providing excellent opportunities to put the methods learnt into practice through the unit assignments. I enjoyed having the opportunity to choose supplementary modules in areas not directly related to research methods as these were very useful for helping me to formulate ideas on which to base my dissertation.

The lecturers at Bristol are very approachable and I found my dissertation supervisor to be particularly supportive. The opportunities that the university offers outside of the formal course teaching are also a positive aspect of life at the Bristol. The guest lecture programme provides the opportunity to listen to some of the most highly thought of academics in their relevant subject areas.

As a result of my experiences at Bristol University I have been able to work at a leading private school as a graduate assistant this academic year whilst I apply for graduate social research roles. The brilliant training I have gained through my master’s degree in research methods has led me to reach the final stages of the Government Social Research Fast Track recruitment scheme and be offered a position at a market research agency.

Vorapong (Thailand), MSc International Relations (2010/11)

I found the course a truly ‘international’ education. The teaching provides a good overview of the field of International Relations, while research for essays and the dissertation enabled us to further explore particular topics and develop areas of interest. Guest speakers, workshops, presentations and class discussions also enhance knowledge and useful skills.

Beyond the formal teaching and learning, I really enjoyed being immersed in the international community of SPAIS faculty and students. Highly-recognised academics provide interesting insights into IR’s practice, and I also feel privileged to have been exposed to so many perspectives of those from around the world.

I have recently commenced an internship with the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, which leads and coordinates the development work of all UN agencies based and operating in Thailand. It is a vibrant organisation, with wide-ranging tasks, that really shows one how it all works. I look forward to seeing what I have learned being applied, especially in the context of my country’s relationships with the UN and international community.

It is this course, the work we did, the supportive community of students and staff, as well as ideas and thoughts shared amongst the great friends I have made during my time here, that have significantly broadened my worldview, inspiring me to look further and pursue such exciting opportunities. I am also confident that the experience from the University of Bristol will have me well-prepared for future careers.

Annie (UK), MSc International Development (2010/11)

My first degree was in Russian, Spanish and Interpreting. During and after my studies, I spent some time working in South America and subsequently set up a charity helping street kids to help themselves in Bolivia. Since I planned to work in the development field in the future I decided to learn some theory to support my existing practical experience.

At the start of the course I already held a number of preconceptions about what constituted good or bad development, many of which had been demolished by half-way through the classes! By the end of my Masters I felt that my thinking had been greatly challenged and I was able to be more sensibly critical of areas in which development perhaps had not worked to plan, or had other unforeseen implications.

I continue to work with my own charity amongst street children – setting up self-financing projects that will teach the children new skills and enable them to create their own income. In addition, I support a number of students through vocational and further training. The Masters has helped me to provide a framework for critical analysis of my charity, whilst also giving me the necessary skills to work within a different organisation in the future.

Doszhan (Kazakhstan), MSc International Relations (2010-11)

Studying at University of Bristol was unforgettable and amazing experience. The MSc in IR is a very flexible programme that allows students to study what they are really interested in, as most of their coursework depends on a self-study system. Besides, SPAIS offers a lot of different courses even among completely different disciplines. That is especially important to me as I was simultaneously interested in a combination of different subjects such as politics, security, economics, business development and others, and didn’t want to focus on specific one instead. And also the academic staff is great as most of them really care about what they do. Especially, notable professor is Dr Gaston Fornes. I was really glad that I took his courses and asked him to be my dissertation supervisor.

In addition, University of Bristol Students’ Union offers a lot of amazing activities and events like sports clubs, societies, student projects which are the best way of learning new skills, meeting new interesting people and having fun. For instance, while doing my MSc I was able to participate in Muay-Thai, JITSU and tennis clubs. All of the above, and Bristol city, itself, combined with a very friendly student environment and resulted in the amazing experience that I will never forget.

Jessica (UK), MSc Gender and International Relations, 2010-11
The MSc in Gender and International Relations (GIR) at the University of Bristol is excellent. The academic teaching staff are inspiring, providing a course that pushed me to develop a critical mind and sharp research skills. In particular, learning to take a gender perspective allowed me to understand international relations, from the international political economy to human rights, in a unique way. The course has also meant I have a speciality in gender in the international relations field, which allows me to stand out from other MSc graduates.

I chose to study the GIR course after several years working. The decision has served me well as it has allowed me to apply for many more jobs in the UN and international field that require a Masters (most of them do now). As a result, I was interviewed by the Gender Unit of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). I also was offered a job for a UN affiliated conflict resolution NGO in Geneva. Although finally, I chose to take the position of Executive Expert at the UKTI (UK Trade and Investment department of the UK government) working in Barcelona.

Petros (Greece), MSc International Relations (2009/10)

If someone believes that you can feel like your hometown in any piece of land you have the best memories, I could definitely state that Bristol is one of this piece of land. Actually, Bristol is a great city with multiple capabilities and a great combination of interesting activities. A strategic location (less than 2 hours from London), a great University, an amazing river, the best weather in the UK and of course, a lot of opportunities for sport vividness and charming night life.

Personally, with a bachelor degree in Balkan Studies from a Greek university, I decided to continue my Master studies in International Relations enhancing my knowledge and my future goals. I knew I was coming to a well-reputed University and my choice was totally right. Lectures’ quality level was over my expectations giving me the opportunity of ameliorating my thought structure in a more academic and objective standard. Co-operation with professors is a vital component of university’s success as it helps you having better results.

After a year of my graduation, I maintain the best memories from the city and my professors. They provided me with the most significant equipment in the market arena. After my graduation, I had a valuable internship at Formula Europa Institute based in Brussels, I worked as journalist-researcher for a Pan-Hellenic Newspaper in Athens and currently, I am Research Associate and Energy Security Analyst for the Research Institute for European and American Studies. Simultaneously, I am preparing for a PhD in Security Studies.

Charly (Brazil/France), MSc International Relations (2009/10)

Studying international relations at Bristol University opened up a lot of doors for me. Only days after finishing my Master degree where I studied a wide range of interesting and challenging courses such as world economy, international development and conflict management ( to name only a few ), I started an internship at the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York. Here, the writing skills that I developed at Bristol Uni were extremely useful as I was drafting reports for top UN officials.

After 6 months at the UN, I was given the opportunity to work for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. This would have never happened if it wasn’t for the conflict and post-conflict courses that I chose to focus on during the second semester. During my 6 months in Bosnia, I had to make presentations on the OSCE’s activities to different government officials. Again, the presentation skills that I acquired thanks to the useful feedback of my professors became very handy.

At present I am working at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. I am working in a field that I had never studied or worked in before: communications. However, thanks to Bristol University’s focus on transferable skills, this transition has been really smooth.

My experience at Bristol was wonderful and I owe a lot to my professors, university staff and friends that I had the joy of studying with.

Donatella (UK), MSc European Governance (2008/09)

Despite the fact that the MSc in European Governance is a newly designed and developed course I believe it certainly boasts an intellectually rigorous programme. Indeed the highlight of the programme is precisely the flexibility and variety that it offers. The three core units of the programme enable students to broadly engage with the study of Europe focusing on the inner workings of the European Union and on comparative European politics as well as drawing on theories of international relations. Furthermore, they establish an important foundation for the array of optional units available during the second term, units that dive much deeper into subjects tailored to the expertise of the member of staff and that at times stretch far beyond the European dimension.

The style of teaching is particularly motivating and strikes a perfect balance between individual thought through seminar preparation, class presentations and essays, and group discussions, debates and guiding lectures offered by the member of staff. I realise that this particular style of teaching provides the very skills that will inevitably come in useful in my future years.

Furthermore, the European Governance programme enables students to also take part in a variety of extra-curricular activities, such as talks with various Ambassadors and members of the European Parliament as well as workshop days and reading groups. However, probably the most positive comment I could make would be about the open and friendly environment that the European Governance course offers, with staff who are more than willing to listen to student feedback about the programme to make any amendments in order to improve it any way they can.

Adam (Germany), MSc European Governance (2008/09)

The University’s academic staff I met is excellent, especially in regards of European institutions, European civil society and European foreign and defence policy. Another very positive point is that the University of Bristol follows an approach that emphasises your own considerations and rejects imposing views, theories or understandings of a particular kind. The student is seen as a self-organised and well-prepared part of the University who actively participates and discusses at eye-level. This leads to a working atmosphere that is very constructive in terms of discussions and exchange of ideas and information. Further, the administrative staff are very good as well and provide a great deal of support to guide you through your programme.

Student life in Bristol is great. The city is clearly marked by the presence of young people and offers plenty of possibilities to enjoy leisure time. The high amount of international students enables an additional cultural experience and thanks to the rather small seminar classes students connect easily.

Nicola (UK), MSc International Development (2007/08)

I have been working as a campaigner at WWF since January 2009. Last year I was working on our climate change campaign in the run up to the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 which was really interesting. Since January 2010 I have been managing a major new WWF campaign on illegal logging. Having researched the politics of deforestation for my MSc dissertation I am finding this a really fascinating campaign to work on; we are trying to raise awareness of the links between timber trade and consumption in the EU and social and environmental impacts in developing countries, specifically Indonesia and the Congo Basin, and promote timber certification to consumers, businesses and government. My work has involved travel to forests and WWF projects Cameroon - to enable us tell the story to consumers about illegal logging, and the positive impact that sustainable forestry can have. Studying for the MSc International Development at Bristol was the best decision I ever made - the course gave me a broad understanding of development issues while also enabling me to specialise in environmental politics which led to getting a job I really wanted. It is still a tough field to break into - be prepared to write a lot of job application letters, and definitely do some relevant voluntary work or an internship, which shows employers you are committed as well as giving you good practical experience to complement your studies.

Yang (China), MSc International Security (2004/05)

My experience of studying at University of Bristol can be summarised as intellectually stimulating and academically rigorous. The Master’s programme on International Security provides an excellent coverage of courses that equipped me with knowledge and confidence that are essential for my pursuit of PhD research degree in politics and international affairs.

University libraries and Internet database are hugely beneficial during my research for China's energy foreign policy. Guided by knowledgeable and professional academic staff during my research degree, I developed essential research and transferable skills such as problem solving, time management and public speaking. Furthermore, I enjoyed the opportunities to engage with the world-class scholars in my school - a challenging and beneficial experience that brings my own ideas on the frontier to the established experts.

Thanks to high representatives of international students at the University, student life in Bristol is fun and exhilarating. I have met many interesting people from all over the world and made some great friends over the years - an important experience for me as an international student.

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