Portrait of Nina harris

Nina Harris

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in quite a strange setting, on the campus of Keele University as my Dad is a Professor. So while growing up, I was exposed to campus lifestyle and what it meant to be a student which I guess in hindsight really prepared me for university. 

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

I was attracted to the course because of the international scope of the modules and how current their focus was. I remember reading the options for level one and just being stunned at how fascinating they sounded, especially in comparison to other courses across the country. I also really liked the fact that the course wasn’t joint-honours like the rest of the History and Politics degrees in the country. I was conscious that being split over two schools can add confusion and make your understanding of your degree less fluid. Being schooled by just one department makes you feel a lot more comfortable and it’s easier to make friends and get involved in things like the departmental society.

What is it that makes you passionate about International History and Politics?

Because history as a subject and as a degree has so much scope and breadth, I appreciate how history incorporates elements of other ‘subjects’ such as politics economics, sociology and anthropology. I am also passionate about IHP because of my interest in current affairs. My understanding of the ground-breaking political moments of today such as Brexit and even the South Korean nuclear tensions are shaped and enhanced so much by my course. Through studying IHP I feel confident and passionate enough to engage in topical debates and, quite often, am  able to speculate about how these events are portrayed in the media. 

Which IHP modules have you particularly enjoyed studying, and why?

I really enjoyed my second year module ‘Mao to Modern China.’ We cover some really controversial topics such as China’s Campaign to Supress the Counter-revolutionaries and the Great Leap Forward. The Arab-Israeli Conflict module was also fascinating, and helped provide clarity into such a deeply complicated and yet deeply important affair in modern times. As well as looking at the foundations of Zionism, the British rule and the years of revolt, we also focussed on the complexities surrounding the ongoing peace processes. 

Which Discovery Modules have you studied, and how do you feel they have enhanced your time in Leeds? 

In First Year I studied Advanced French and this really gave me the skills and confidence to apply for my study abroad placement in Montpellier. I think a language also gave some diversity to my studies and it was great to meet students from different subjects and different years. In second year I also studied a Discovery Module in the School of Sociology called ‘Identity and Inequality’. This module was based around contemporary and topical subjects such as gender and sexuality and it definitely gave me an insight into sociological thinking and different schools of thought.

This year I am studying a politics module called ‘Violence and Reconciliation in Africa’ and I feel that my background in history gives me a unique perspective on the topics we cover such as post-apartheid stability and the Sierra Leone civil war. When I speak to friends at other universities they are so envious that Leeds students can study such a broad range of modules from other departments as part of their degree.

Taking Discovery Modules in subjects like French, sociology and politics has meant that I will leave Leeds feeling like I’ve grown in areas even beyond the subject I applied for. Not only does this benefit student employability, it enriches your entire university experience.   

What would you say about the library and study facilities at the University?

The libraries are rarely short of texts and if they haven’t got a text, your seminar tutors will often kindly provide photocopied versions. The new Laidlaw library has great facilities and really nice lighting! Edward Boyle has also had a recent revamp, which means across campus we have state of the art facilities. 

Please tell us more about your study abroad year.

Last year I studied in Montpellier on the sunny coast of the South of France. It was an incredible feeling to arrive in a completely new place. I was nervous about studying abroad largely because I haven’t actually studied French since A Level. As I predicted, I would soon be thrown in at the deep end trying to organise my life in a foreign language. I chose Montpellier because I’d heard such great reviews from previous students and my main motivation for studying abroad was to improve my French. The rumours were true, it’s a perfect size, extremely student-friendly, ridiculously pretty and near the beach. I met so many interesting people, challenged myself to study in a foreign language and explored an unbelievably picturesque part of the world. I am so thankful that Leeds promotes studying abroad so much, as it is something I’ll look back on with such happiness for years to come. 

What activities have you been involved in outside of your course and what have you got out of being involved? 

In first-year I was the IHP course rep for the year and within this role I sat on the Student Staff Committee and raised queries and issues from my year group. This was a great way to meet friends in first year and it was also interesting to work alongside members from the department. In second year I was the Academic Secretary of the History Society which, whilst a lot of work, was really rewarding. Within my role I organised the Careers Networking Dinner, wrote the Primary Sauce magazine, organised trips and guest speakers. 

I have written various articles for the Student Newspaper The Gryphon. I was also the Co-Hub Manager at an organisation called Food Cycle, which turns unwanted food from supermarkets into meals for those in need. I was shortlisted for the Leeds for Life Citizenship Award 2016 as part of this work. For the past four years I have also been commissioned to write over one hundred articles for the ‘Accommodation for Students’ online newspaper and the Student Life Guide magazine and city guides. 

This year I am undertaking the paid position of the Government and Politics Intern for the School of History, within which I coordinate with the careers department to try and facilitate and improve student employability. This is a really exciting opportunity as it will boost my own knowledge of political career routes, generate some extra cash and be a great way to help fellow students. This year I am also taking on the challenge of cycling to Berlin alongside Leeds RAG. . I may not own a bike yet, but what a way to finish my degree! 

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?

Leeds is ideal for students: it’s vibrant, quirky, diverse, and a perfect size. It has a great independent scene for restaurants, shops, bars and cafes. Every cuisine has been mastered in the city centre – so for food lovers like myself, you are sorted! There are also lots of unique spaces which put on talks, film screenings and pop-up events. The nightlife is renowned across the country and for a good reason. Not only do I feel very passionate about Leeds as a university, I will leave Leeds feeling so grateful to have spent my degree in such an incredible city.   

Do you have any comments about the support you receive from the School of History? 

I am really impressed by the amount of career events and talks the School of History organises. The careers event day EXPO is also really well organised and covers a range of careers paths from politics and advertising to production and law. The School will often send you links to events being put on by other schools and the Union as well so you are kept in the loop. I have a good relationship with my personal tutors and they are always happy to put time in to see you. The internships which the School of History provide are also a great idea and really improve student confidence in applying for positions, covering a range of areas students are interested in like law, marketing and teaching.