Lucy Slater

Please tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to study MA War and Strategy at Leeds.

History was never my best subject in school, my form tutor expected me to take Maths at university! However, I decided that it was worth taking a shot at something I really loved, so I applied for BA International History and Politics (IHP) here at Leeds. As an IHP student, I’d gotten to know Leeds and the School of History really well. It was a great place to study and I didn’t feel ready to leave. I was then lucky enough to be offered an internship and a scholarship to continue here to study for my MA, and now I’m studying my masters in War and Strategy, specialising in 20th century Intelligence history, and I couldn’t be happier!

I chose War and Strategy because I’d heard it was a really good course and I wanted to remain studying an area more relevant to my undergraduate degree. The selection of module options keeps me focussed and has really helped me develop some expertise in a specific area.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

Intelligence history was something I became aware of in my second year of my IHP course and I was immediately hooked. I took Professor Simon Ball’s special subject in third year and completed my dissertation on the role of Secret Intelligence in the policy of Appeasement in the late 1930s. I was very surprised that intelligence was an area of history that tends to be marginalised and wanted to find out more about why and what the area could offer. But honestly, who doesn’t find spies and secret intelligence fascinating?

I love the freedom that the MA War and Strategy offers in terms of choosing what you study. So far, I have chosen the topic of every piece of coursework I have done, rather than choosing from a small list of essay questions. Even with presentations we can choose which topics to look at from a huge list. It’s great to be able to tailor your MA to what interests you and what you want to develop knowledge on.

What would you say about the learning facilities in the School of History?

The facilities at Leeds are amazing. The libraries are massive and if they don’t have what you need, there is a purchase request system, which is yet to fail me. The research clusters here are great and always putting on really interesting seminars and talks, which are always worth going to, even if they aren’t immediately relevant to your area of research.

As I’m particularly interested in Secret Intelligence, I’ve worked closely with Professor Simon Ball both in my final year of undergrad and also during my MA. His enthusiasm for the subject is infectious and he has always been very supportive. Generally though, I don’t think I’ve met a tutor yet who hasn’t been incredibly supportive of us as students.

What other activities are available for students to take part in outside of their studies?

Leeds has something for everyone. There are so many student societies and I would definitely recommend getting involved in at least one or two. Especially if you’re new to the University, it’s a great way to meet new people and feel involved and at home in such a big place.

What do you plan to do when you’ve finished your MA War and Strategy course?

I’m hoping to carry on to study for my PhD, and obviously my Masters will be important for that. But if not, I’d love to pursue a career in editing and maybe write something of my own some day. My MA has given me an opportunity to continue my writing practice and improved my research skills, giving me a much better chance in a competitive career path.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

Honestly? Go for it! If you’re passionate about history or simply want to improve your skills in research and writing, then there’s no better place.