BA History and Politics - Ellie Barrow
Years at UEA
Ellie Barrow is a second year History & Politics student, and here she reflects on her experience of the course and where she thinks it will take her.
What drew you to study History & Politics at UEA?
I’ve always been interested in History, as I chose to study it during my GCSEs and A Levels.
I studied Politics at A Level too, and I realised that I could study both of them on a joint honours course, which I hadn’t heard of before I went to an open day at UEA.
The course really stood out to me because I have an interest in the modern history modules. I enjoyed seeing the campus on the open days that I went to, and I liked that everything is within walking distance so I could easily find my way around it. There were a lot of green spaces and the atmosphere was really welcoming.
What has your experience of the teaching been like on this course, through lectures and seminars?
I have liked being given the information in lectures and then getting the chance to ask questions about it in seminars later on, and I always write down the questions that I want to ask so that I remember them.
It’s been nice to get to know the lecturers, and they always make an effort to make sure that everyone gets involved without it being awkward.
What has your experience of the assessments been like on this course?
The exams this year have actually gone very smoothly, which was good because I usually get stressed around exam time.
We were given opportunities to practice with mock exams and practice essay plans, and lecturers made it clear that they were only an email away if we needed help. They were very supportive, I would email them quite a lot asking “Can I write this? Can I do this?”.
What employability opportunities have been available on this course?
I have been to some online careers events to do with education because I am planning to go into teaching after I graduate.
Earlier this year I worked on an employability project within UEA in which we helped to create a page on the CareerCentral website, and we aimed to make sure that the CareerCentral website is easier to navigate for all students.
The CareerCentral website has so much information listed about different opportunities, and that can be overwhelming but the employability project helped me to feel more familiar with the basics. I have also attended workshops with CareerCentral to get advice on CVs and interview skills, and I found those really helpful.
Are there any other employability opportunities you have taken part in outside of your degree?
I am currently working towards the bronze UEA Award.
It is really rewarding because all of your big or small achievements count, for example university group projects or hours worked at a part-time job. I’m excited to see everything come together at the end, and hopefully being able to present this to a future employer will make me stand out to them. The people who run the award understand that we have our studies to focus on as well, so it goes along at a good pace that isn’t too much pressure.
How has History & Politics prepared you for your future career aspirations?
This course has helped me to learn how to balance everything: studying, working part-time jobs, keeping my living area tidy, resting.
The independent aspect of being at university means that you have to be self-motivated and take on the responsibility of getting everything done, because there is no one looking over your shoulder and telling you what to do. First year can be overwhelming, but in my second year I have found that it has settled down a bit more and I have a good balanced schedule.
How are you feeling about your plans for after graduation?
I want to go into the TeachFirst graduate scheme because it has the benefit of going straight into the working world.
However I know that graduate schemes are competitive, so I do have the option of doing a PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate in Education) instead. It can be scary thinking about going into the ‘real world’ after university, but I’ve started trying to get into a regular daily routine to prepare for working a full-time job, because that will be a big difference.
What advice would you give to people who are considering studying History and Politics at UEA?
This might sound silly, but doing the reading for your course is so important.
In first year I skipped over the reading a lot, but in second year I realised that doing that really wasn’t helping me. I think people assume that it’s not necessary, but when you come to writing an essay or preparing for an exam you will need to have all the resources you can possibly get, and catching up on the reading at the last minute is not fun!
Keeping organised is also important, I would suggest making sure that all of your notes are in the same place rather than being scattered between bits of paper and your laptop. History & Politics does have a lot of reading to get through outside of lectures and seminars, but it’s worth keeping up with it.