Why do a Joint Honours degree at Manchester? Alumna Elkie Myers reflects on studying Politics and Modern History

115Elkie Myers

BA Politics and Modern History (2012-2015)

 

I graduated in July 2015 after completing my BA in Politics and Modern History. My course was co-ordinated by the History department in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, but was essentially a two-school course, with Politics lectures run by the School of Social Sciences. This made things quite complicated at times, with each school having different guidelines for assessments and different forms of presentation. Although during essay-writing this became frustrating, looking back I definitely gained additional skills from doing a joint-honours degree; I gained the ability to adapt and switch from one way of thinking to another quickly, and to approach a problem from a number of directions. Also more specifically to my course, my political studies were informed by historical context, and my history studies benefited from my knowledge of current affairs.

Though I am pursuing a career in politics (I work for the political lobby group Conservative Friends of Israel), I definitely continue to use the skills from my history modules on a day to day basis. Learning how to extract key points from large quantities of information is invaluable in any job as well as the ability to present these points clearly and convincingly. Studying for a history degree also equips you with the ability to use the analysis and work of others to supplement and inform your own argument, another transferable skill necessary for all professions. The relatively low number of contact hours for this degree course means that a large amount of independent study is required, and it is really important to discipline yourself and stay focused (especially during dissertation time). That may sound daunting, but a day at the library with your friends is definitely more appealing than 9-5 lectures!

I now have the perspective of someone who has completed the BA Politics and Modern History course at the University of Manchester, and I am able to reflect and look back on my time at the university. I would certainly tell my fresher self to manage my time better and leave at least a few days before a deadline to check over all of my work. Looking back, I should have organised and taken part in more group study sessions; sometimes a peer can see things in a way you hadn’t thought of before. You aren’t competing against others, it’s all about getting the most out of your degree and working with others can be an eye-opening experience and can really prepare you for the real world!

If you are interested in history, Manchester is a great city to study in. It is hard to walk down a street without learning something new about the city; during my time in Manchester on history day trips I saw the first Marks and Spencer warehouse (a tiny building) and cells in a Victorian police station as well as many architectural marvels (definitely check out the gothic Manchester Town Hall).

With my course based in the History department, I often found myself in the grand Samuel Alexander building (the home of Arts, Languages and Cultures). Coming back there on graduation day and having my photo taken in front of the imposing columns gave me a great feeling of achievement and pride. Suddenly the unappealing entrance for a 9am lecture became a symbol of all I had achieved, and everything I had learnt.

 

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