- Course: BA English and History (Industrial)
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
I'm passionate about writing and reading and knew I wanted to continue learning so applying to university felt like a natural step. I studied English, History and Religious Studies at A Level and felt the first two were most interdisciplinary. I was originally set on Durham/another university as my first choice but after visiting there and then Leeds, Leeds just felt right. The atmosphere seemed more inclusive and there was clearly more to do – with a better nightlife and more diverse culture.
Are you studying a joint honours course? If so, please tell us why you decided to study two subjects and how you think they complement each other.
I've always been interested in learning about people and why things happen, so naturally find most humanities subjects fascinating. This made it quite hard to choose but I felt English and history allow the most in-depth and personal view of people, ideas and culture – with the potential to explore various other elements such as religion, psychology, politics and sociology. The skills used for analysing language in both subjects certainly complement - you are able to read a text critically, be it a historical source or piece of literature. Of course, these also cross over. It's also important to understand the historical context in which literary texts are written in and its historical significance. Literature is an important marker, recorder and creator of the culture, politics and moments which make up history – often also expressing sentiments that don't make it into the textbooks.
What is it that makes you passionate about History?
I like stories and people – history is largely concerned with them. History tries to explain why things are the way they are, how they used to be, and traces that transition. I think it's important to learn about the events and ideas that have shaped the world's culture and differences. It's necessary to be aware of past tensions and mistakes to understand how to do better in future. It expands our own view and perspective of the world, meaning we can be more diverse and inclusive of other beliefs and religions.
Which History modules have you particularly enjoyed studying, and why?
I did a module on Sati – the Hindu rite where the wife is burnt alive on a pyre at her husband's funeral – and the British treatment of this. Although obviously sometimes dark, I enjoyed learning about something so different through primary sources, and how the belief system was entwined with socio-economic factors. Then to see how the rite had varied in the British's treatment of it – switching from pious admiration to moral condemnation, once it suited them to present the barbarity of Indians in need of civilisation. I also enjoyed Body, Disease and Society because sex, disease and death are things which affect us all, yet most courses tend not to focus on the social history of these so the lectures were always really engaging.
Which Discovery Modules have you studied, and how do you feel they have enhanced your time in Leeds?
I studied Introduction to the Bible, Introduction to Psychology and Introduction to Russian Folklore: Fairy Tales and Cultural Practice. It was interesting to work in different schools and try out different methods of assessment. It was especially refreshing in first year as it introduces variety into your studies and you have the opportunity to explore lots of interests.
Please tell us more about your work placement year.
I worked within the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) Communications Department as part of the PR team. Straight away I was given the opportunity to organise a 15 minute piece of coverage on Respect the Water (the RNLI's national drowning prevention campaign). I travelled to Cornwall twice to oversee the PR of the pre-records of the campaign and the live broadcast, which featured lifeguards at Newquay and a lifeboat crew at Padstow.
What activities have you been involved in outside of your course and what have you got out of being involved?
I've been involved with Homed, an organisation that helps the homeless in Leeds. I have also been involved with several Leeds RAG (Raise and Give) projects, including the India Project which involved fundraising and spending two weeks in India working with children and those affected by the commercial sex industry. I was also part of a project where we were given £1000 to organise a charity event of our choosing, to raise awareness and funds for the homeless, and a music therapy group for those with disabilities.
What would you say about Leeds as a city and how do you think it has helped you make the most of your time here?
It's such a varied city and there are countless clubs and pubs but also venues with sessions on topical issues, art exhibitions, diverse music nights and some just plain wacky events. As well as studying, the university experience is about meeting new people, experimenting and trying new things, so being in such a buzzing and varied city allows you to really seek out your interests.
What do you plan to do once you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed at Leeds will help with these plans?
I want to be in a role where I'm writing and working with people, to help them or a good cause. I'd like to work for a charity or NGO. I've been able to really broaden my understanding and awareness of a lot of issues through my course and extra events, and had the opportunity to learn what I can do to improve them by gaining experience in volunteering.
What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
It is worth it if you're passionate about the subject. It can seem scary applying for something non-vocational considering the current employment situation, but, although it's a broad subject, you have the chance to learn about so many fascinating topics at Leeds, while developing and applying a multitude of skills that employers look for.