My name is Joe Duquenoy-Taylor and I am a
second-year Politics and International Relations student at the University of
Manchester. I am originally from Brighton so moving to Manchester was both a
big move and a big change, but I chose it because I love the city and I loved
the course that was on offer here. Unlike many other universities, Manchester
offers Politics and International Relations as a singular degree. This means
that the course focuses on a wider range of political topics and issues and
looks at the effects of these all over the globe.
What Does Studying Politics Involve?
The first thing that I think is important to say is
that people should not be put off studying Politics. It can seem quite daunting
causing some people to think ‘it’s not for them.’ This blog should dispel the
myth that politics is all about parliament and Westminster. Politics impacts
our everyday lives in ways we may not even realise. Issues you may have seen in
the news or even discussed with friends or family, such as Black Lives Matter, the climate emergency or the MeToo movement are all political. Breaking
down the myth that politics is the business of old men in suits in London is
important. Politics affects everyone and therefore people from all walks of
life should be involved in the political process. If you have opinions on the
climate emergency, on woman’s rights, on the rights of minority groups, if you
take issue with rising poverty at home and overseas or the impact of war on
refugees, then you too are political.
We may not realise it but a lot of our
opinions about the world boil down to politics and it is this part of Politics,
not Westminster or the Whitehouse, that fascinates me and many others too. I
didn’t take Politics at A level because I had a preconception that studying Politics would be learning the ins and outs of parliament and learning about
partisan politics. However, when I started researching Politics degrees in my
second year of A-levels, I realised politics was so much more than that. I saw
that Politics degrees cover everything from nuclear weapons to chlorinated
chicken. The more I researched politics the more I began to realise that
everything, down to the food I had for dinner last night, is political. It was
this realisation, that made me choose Politics and International Relations. In
my degree so far, I have studied modules that focus on war and security, ‘third-world’
development, poverty and inequality, political philosophy and questions of
social justice. The topics and issues discussed and debated in politics are
Just a year ago we thought we were in the most
uncertain times in generations following the election of Donald Trump in the US
and the Brexit vote in the UK – it seemed politics as we knew was changing.
However, the coronavirus outbreak means we are now living in more uncertain
times than ever. Living in a rapidly changing world where news is being
bombarded at you 24 hours a day can be very confusing and cutting through the
noise is important. Most of us nowadays, get our news through social media,
whether it be on Snapchat, Instagram or messaging apps like WhatsApp. Whilst it
is positive that we are all now able to access news in seconds, the spread of
fake news is becoming increasingly common.
In politics, much like in normal
life, we analyse and gather information from a variety of sources, ranging from
academic journals to Donald Trump’s tweets. What is important though, for everyone
when learning about currents affairs and political issues, is to make sure we
can trust our sources of information. For people who are new to learning about Politics and current affairs and want information in an accessible manner I
recommend ‘Simple Politics.’ They can be found on Facebook and on Instagram
‘@simplepolitics.’ They break down political jargon and explain things you may
have heard in the news. This is reliable and impartial information that will
help keep you informed about politics and allow you to develop your own
political opinions. On Snapchat you can subscribe to ‘Outside of Westminster’,
‘Pod Save America’ and ‘Good Luck America.’ These are three short snap podcasts
that give a summary of current British and American political affairs and both
are targeted at younger audiences. If you feel you already have a basic grasp
of current affairs and you want to learn more or start to look at political
issues in different countries, then I recommend googling the Guardian politics
articles where you will find in-depth articles on anything you have found
interesting in the news. The guardian
podcast ‘Today in Focus’ which is available to stream and download on Spotify
covers a whole range of issues, political and otherwise and is a great way of
keeping up to date with current affairs and hearing a range of opinions on a
range of topics.
Exposing yourself to views that might contradict your own is
necessary when studying Politics. If you don’t understand the other sides
opinion then how can you argue your case? If you feel you have an interest in some
of the big global issues discussed above then Politics and International
Relations may be an ideal degree path for you to explore these further and
starting by reading and listening to different reliable news sources now is a
great start on that path.
Hi everyone! My name’s Moises Vieira. I’m currently doing a PhD in the Department of Politics. In my research, I’m looking at the intersection of migration and healthcare. In a nutshell, I’m interested in the (legal and ethical) challenges around providing healthcare for migrants, in the UK. I have been a student at Manchester since September 2018, where I’ve had the opportunity to discuss my work with world-class researchers, professors and fellow colleagues in the field of International Relations.
In addition to being a researcher, I am also a graduate teaching assistant in the Faculty of Humanities. So far, I have taught a module on the ‘Politics of Globalization’ where the students and I discussed different aspects of living in a globalised world, and how that impacts on social, economic and political life. Furthermore, I have also taught online modules addressing a range of issues within the field of International Relations and beyond: creating a sustainable world, security and trust, cybercrimes, partnerships for development, among others.
As you can see, life as a university student goes way beyond simply attending classes and hitting the books. There are always a lot of extra activities you can engage with, according to your interests, academic background and previous training.
I went to Law School as an undergraduate student, and decided to pursue an academic career following my Master’s degree in International Relations. I undertook my studies in Brazil, so doing my PhD at Manchester has been an incredible experience both on the academic and personal levels. Most of my activities take place on campus, such as attending seminars, lectures, workshops and specific training events for career advancement. Doing a PhD in Politics is a great opportunity to move around and explore the world, too: as a researcher, I have attended academic events in a range of cities in the UK, and international conferences in a few countries, such as Switzerland and Denmark. These have been invaluable experiences in order to further my research, but also to meet new people and explore new places.
Back to my main research interest: What does it mean to be looking at the intersection of migration and healthcare? Let’s say an immigrant (with unlawful residence in the UK) falls ill, and is denied access to the NHS. In my research, I analyse issues like that, and ask questions such as: Is it ethical to deny healthcare for migrants on the grounds of immigration status? What are the human rights implications of refusing healthcare for non-citizens? By addressing these questions, I seek to raise people’s awareness of these important issues around public health and migration, which are very relevant for both migrants and UK citizens alike.
A short guide for healthcare provision for migrants by the charity ‘Doctors of the World’:
The British Medical Association (BMA) opinion on refusing migrants’ access to the NHS:
Some reflections on charging migrants for healthcare:
Some context on the extension of ‘hostile environment’ into a range of areas, including healthcare:
A special focus on pregnancy and migrant women:
A report on the health of migrants in the UK, by the Migration Observatory, at the University of Oxford:
‘Brexit means Brexit!’. The words of the
former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in June 2016, on the steps of the UK
Parliament. But what does Brexit mean?
Hello, my name is Adam. I’m a first year
History PhD student here at The University of Manchester and my research aims
to understand the historical origins of euro-scepticism in the UK. The
2016 referendum produced a political crisis. The Vote Leave campaign narrowly
‘won’ 51.9 to 49.1 on a turnout of 72%. Questions of what it means to be a
member of the EU, a member of The Conservatives, and much more broadly the
British democratic system have been thrown into focus.
For me, my interest in political history was
sparked at a young age. I grew up with the backdrop of the Iraq War — campaigning
as a part of the ‘Stop the War’ coalition. I was able to see how Politics has
the ability to reshape our world, for better and for worse. Understanding the
decisions taken in Westminster – and in constituencies – is therefore important
I am at the beginning of my research into euro-scepticism
but already there are some important questions that have emerged. For example,
why did the UK government, at the time, decide to use an open-question
referendum rather than, say, a referendum on specific outcomes? Euro-scepticism
is a subject that crosses traditional political boundaries but why? How far did
‘political education’, or lack of education, play in the mind of the voter? Did
one group particularly benefit from worries of Europeanism? How far did the
media present an unquestioning approach to scare stories?
I am in a slightly unusual position to be studying Brexit.
As a historian, there is a tendency to look to events that are settled,
although may be contested by historians! Yet, with the near daily developments
with the UK’s exit from the European Union there is a wealth of new material
emerging. This helps keep my research current, but it also throws up its own
challenges in how I approach the topic.
Understanding political decisions is important for me. I
returned to Manchester to complete a Master’s Degree (immediately before this
Ph.D.) after a number of years in the ‘professional world’. It gave me an
insight into the concerns and ambitions of businesses, yet I knew that I wanted
to further explore my curiosity for History. After decided that I would leave
my job, I quickly rediscovered my love of learning and had a wonderful
opportunity to meet some amazing people (both academics and friends) who
encouraged me to pursue my interest in historical politics further.
Ultimately, I would really like my project to contribute to
a much more detailed understanding of how and why political decisions are
taken. In this, I hope to contribute through various policy platforms and forums
with the aim of ensuring that regional voices are included as much as ‘dominant
narratives’ of the ‘Westminster Bubble’.
Looking for further information about Brexit can feel a
little overwhelming, trust me. However, understanding the origins of
euro-scepticism allows us to narrow the field a little and there are some
brilliant resources and blogs which help unpack the subject. For my experience,
an excellent starting place is the ‘Britain in a Changing Europe’ Research
Project run by Professor Anand Menon (https://ukandeu.ac.uk/).
As an academic resource, it is thoroughly fact-checked and many of the
contributors regularly appear in the media.
For a little further clarification of key terms and some of
the ideas often discussed alongside Brexit (such as sovereignty, trade policy,
and the Northern Irish ‘backstop’) see the London School of Economics and
Political Science Brexit Blog (https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/).
Another resource that I regularly use is the BBC’s fantastic ‘Brexitcast’ (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05299nl).
Presented as a podcast (although now on TV as well) the podcast is a really
informal way to get the inside track on news and gossip from the UK and Europe.
My name is Dayo and I am a second
year PhD student at the University studying Politics. I am researching how
underrepresented members of the public in policy making (in the case of my
research, Black and Minority Ethnic young adults aged 18 – 25) are included in
the process of policy making. I also work as a teaching assistant for politics
related courses in undergraduate and Master’s level courses.
My route into PhD has been an
interesting journey rather than a direct path. It has been a process of
re-inventing myself and following my passion. My undergraduate degree was in
Economics which I realised quite early on was not for me so I did not
particularly excel in this degree. After a year out working, I figured out what
my next steps would be so I did Master’s degrees in Human Resource Management
and Management Psychology. I did well in these courses. Doing a PhD was
something I had previously considered as it was suggested by my academic
adviser during one of my Master’s degrees but I did not pursue it.
On graduating, I worked for about seven
years in the private and not-for-profit sectors in Learning and Organisational
Development. The knowledge and soft skills I gained at university meant that I
was able to progress in my career by successfully utilising these skills.
Whilst I had no academic knowledge
of policy making, I began to get interested in policy making as one of my jobs
gave me exposure to this field. I then started to notice the lack of diverse
representation in decision making bodies of public policy. There were ‘hidden’
and ‘silent’ groups of people who were not getting involved in decision-making.
I wanted to know why this was the
case and also find solutions that would increase representation in policy
making so that their experiences of issues could be taken into account when
policy is being made.
Transitioning from being a
practitioner to being back in university has been great; it has given me the
opportunity to have the headspace to read and articulate the issues I am
concerned about. I am doing lots of reading! What is also great and a highlight
of my degree is that my fieldwork - working with real people in the real world
- provides the opportunity to design an approach based on academic theories and
study whether it works or not.
Skills gained from the practitioner
work, in particular project management skills (time and resource management as
well as organisational), are helping me progress with my PhD.
Through my journey, I have
hopefully shown that a route to doing a PhD in Politics does not have to be
typical. I have also shown that political parties and elections is just one
component of a Politics degree.
So if you want to be the change, a
degree in Politics could be for you!
If you are interested in finding
out more about politics, here are some links you may find useful.
Politics degrees in Manchester: https://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/politics/study/courses/
Career options as a Politics
Information about how Government works: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/
Information on the UK Parliament: http://www.parliament.uk/
How research impacts on Policy: http://www.policy.manchester.ac.uk/blogs/
Hi, my name is Carys Rees-Owen and I am a recent graduate of
European Studies and French. Doing a joint honours degree gave me loads of
options, which is why I chose this degree. I studied French, History and
English Literature at A levels – I always knew I wanted to study French at
university, as I loved languages, but I also wanted to specialise in another
subject. European Studies allows you to choose any module from the Politics,
History or Economics department, with one or two compulsory modules in European
Politics every year. I decided to focus on politics modules as I’d always followed
the news and took part in debates.
Choosing Where To Go
The best thing about my degree was the option to spend my
third year abroad in order to improve my French. I had the choice of studying
abroad, teaching English abroad as an English Language Assistant or working
abroad. I wanted a bit of variety, and definitely wasn’t ready to get a proper
job or internship. I wasn’t too eager to spend a whole other year studying either,
but I did want to experience life as a French student. I decided to make a
compromise – I applied to study at a university in Lyon, France for the first
term and then applied to be a Comenius assistant in Martinique, a small French
island in the Caribbean, for the second term. A Comenius assistant is similar
to an English Language Assistant, however with the option to teach another
subject besides English (like politics). All assistant jobs are funded by the
British Council, meaning all my accommodation, food and travel costs were
covered as well as an allowance for living. I also got an Erasmus grant for
studying at a European university, so the cost of going abroad was never a big
worry for me.
My Year Abroad
I moved to Lyon, France’s second biggest city, at the end of
summer 2013. After a lot of searching, I managed to find a flat with another 3
French students just down the road from my university. The next five months are
a blur of cheese, good wine and French cafés. I loved living in France, but
studying there was completely different to how I imagined. Lectures lasted 3
hours long (when in Manchester they last an hour) and it felt a bit more like
high school – there was a lot less discussion and debate than I was used to in
Manchester. I studied Politics modules there, but in French. It was interesting
to see how similar topics were taught in France but from a completely different
angle. I did struggle at first with my courses but as my French improved I
found it a lot easier. I saw such a drastic improvement in my French in such a
short amount of time, and definitely took advantage of discovering a new city.
I then moved to Martinique in January 2014. It’s such a
beautiful island, with so many white sandy beaches, thick jungle and a great
mix of French and local Creole culture existing there. I worked in a high
school for 5 months, working roughly twelve hours a week. This meant that the rest of the time I had
there I was free to do whatever I wanted. I spent my time on beaches, hiking in
the jungle and mountains and exploring the island. Teaching English was
challenging, especially considering that my pupils were only 4 years younger
than myself but it was a really good way to integrate into the local community.
I made really good friends with some of the other teachers there, who taught me
more about the culture and history of Martinique.
Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better year abroad. I
got to experience French student life, as well as spend months lounging on
white sand beaches in the Caribbean. More importantly, my French improved drastically,
as did my confidence. Moving to a completely different country without knowing
anybody is incredibly challenging, and sometimes frustrating, but the
experiences I had were definitely worth it.
Getting the chance to study abroad isn’t just limited to
language students either – check if your course allows you to study abroad for
a semester! I’d recommend checking out these websites for more information on
what you could do: