Portrait of Emma Roberts

Emma Roberts

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

There are lots of reasons that made me want to apply for History at Leeds. Firstly, I really enjoyed history at school and the variety of subjects you could study as a history student. I was particularly drawn to Leeds because it was a course which covered a variety of time periods and topics from Louis XIII in France to 21st Century Britain to Black Politics in the US. I was also particularly attracted the Leeds Study Abroad scheme which made a big difference when I applied for university. In terms of the University itself I was very impressed by Leeds University Union as it seemed like there was so much going on and with so many societies it seemed like there would always be something to do.

What is it that makes you passionate about History?

I think the reason that I am passionate about history is because it so clearly affects the modern day. There have been so many points in my course where I have been studying a topic and have made such clear links to the modern day and what is happening around us. This is becoming ever true with the changing political climate.

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

There have been so many modules that I have enjoyed at Leeds one that I particularly enjoyed was the module Most Christian Kings which was a module I wasn’t initially that interested in but once it started I really enjoyed it. It was really interesting to look into the sources of the period and the tutor, Dr Sara Barker, was an incredibly helpful and knowledgeable resource for studying the period. Equally, I really enjoyed Twentieth Century: Progress and Uncertainty I had really enjoyed politics at A-level and it was nice to revisit some British political history in my degree and have a more in depth look at some areas I had studied before but hadn’t looked at in that particular way.

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

I have only taken 2 non-history Discovery Modules during my time at Leeds the first of which was Lower Intermediate French, which I found to thoroughly enhance my time at Leeds because I had studied French at GCSE but had not done any since. The module allowed me to go into a French class at a suitable level and allowed me to further develop skills that I already had. 

The other module I have done as a Discovery Module was Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, this was an area of history I was keen to study but had no prior knowledge of. Going into the Arabic Department where this module was held was daunting because I had no real understanding of the conflict other than general ideas however the tutor took everything from the beginning and thoroughly explained the conflict in simple ways. Overall I would say I have had a very positive experience with discovery modules and they have enhanced my time at Leeds as I have been able to explore areas that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

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

Leeds University has recently developed their library facilities so during my time at Leeds a new Laidlaw library  has been completed and the Edward Boyle has been fully refurbished so the facilities are extremely modern with plenty of plugs for long library sessions. There is a good high demand section for books that are popular to ensure that as many people can access them as possible and you can also request for books to be bought if you need. There are also lots of cafes on campus if you want a more social study environment as well as booths that you can book out for group work.

Please tell us more about your study abroad year.

I studied abroad in the Netherlands at Universiteit Leiden. This is a very picturesque city 30 minutes south of Amsterdam. I had such a brilliant year there for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was able to study areas of History I had never studied before, such as Dutch history as well as the history of Iran and the history of slavery. It was also interesting as I was able to study events I had already studied, such as World War One from a Dutch perspective, which gave me a more well-rounded view on world history. Secondly, my year abroad allowed me to meet like-minded people from all over the world. It also allowed me to travel more around Europe and go to places I’d never even heard about before the year but now would love to return to. Although there were times at which the year was a challenge I think that it developed me as a person and made me more confident and more prepared for my final year of study.

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

During my time at Leeds I have been very involved in the History Society where I was a member of the Committee for my Second Year and I organised socials and the trip abroad. On top of this I have also been involved in Leeds Student Radio where I had a show called The Beat which I co-hosted with other people which allowed me to meet people outside of my degree and gain some insight into how radio works. I have also had several jobs outside of my studies from bar work at Headingley Stadium to working for Leeds University Union in the Community Department helping with community issues, such as recycling and crime prevention. It can be difficult at times to balance university and work but it has enriched my time at Leeds and has improved my time management skills. 

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 a very diverse city where there is something for everyone whether that is heavy metal or jazz and soul. It is always busy and there is always something to do here. Before I moved it did seem a bit daunting moving to such a large city that I had only ever visited once but as a city I would argue it is the best in the UK.

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

The School of History assign each student a personal tutor you can contact or meet with if you need any academic or personal advice. There is also a student support service within the school you can go to if you are stressed or have any issues and they will help you through any problems and provide practical solutions. There are also lots of careers talks put on by the department for everything from Law to further study to Government and more.

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?

Once I’ve finished my course I intend to go into government and politics either in the fast stream or working for an MP. The skills I have learned in my course such as investigative skills, analysis, time management and communication will all be good to transfer into politics or many other careers as it would allow me to use information I receive and condense it into more useful and concise packages.

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

I would say absolutely apply for BA History and if you do apply make sure you take advantage of all the opportunities available to you whether that is being on a committee in a society, going on a year abroad or getting an internship with the School of History. The course is extremely diverse and you have access to some of the country’s best academics who are renowned in their fields. Plus, Leeds University and Leeds University Union offer an extremely broad range of extra-curricular activities and opportunities for you that will lead you to the job you want in the future.