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Past Questions

  1. Dear Ms. Bennett, I'm an Italian student who is going to attend your MA course in September 2020. I have an inquiry about the course, is it possible a foreign language course, such as French, Spanish or German during the year? Thank you.

    Hello, thank you very much for your question. My name is Emma from the Postgraduate Recruitment team, and I am replying on behalf of the mentor as they have not yet answered it.

    Unfortunately I don't have detailed knowledge of the course content, but as the mentor has not replied to you, I would advise that you make an enquiry to the relevant team. At the bottom of the course page (https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/courses/taught/phil/international-law-ethics-politics.aspx) there is a 'Make an enquiry' button. Submitting a question there will send it to someone on the team, who will hopefully be able to help!

    Best wishes, Emma

  2. What was your motivation for undertaking postgraduate study?

    I had been thinking about taking a Masters when I was doing my undergrad dissertation on the topic of tattooing and religion. I loved being able to write on a topic that I was passionate about and that hadn’t been done much before so I thought continuing study would give me the freedom to write and research on another level. I took a year out to save some money and make sure that I wanted to return to study and felt I couldn’t stay away! I also felt like I didn’t get involved as much in my undergrad in extracurricular activities, so saw it as my second chance to get some more experience.

  3. Why did you choose the University of Birmingham?

    Birmingham was a natural choice for me, I loved doing my undergrad here and it felt like my home. I am in love with the city of Birmingham and have enjoyed seeing it change so much in the 5 years I have been here and plan to stay for a while after I graduate. The campus is beautiful, the staff are enthusiastic and the course looked amazing. There were also funding opportunities for alumni.

  4. How will your degree prepare you for what you want to do afterwards?

    Not only has my Masters degree improved my job prospects in itself, but the experiences I have gained through being a student has given me the skills and networks to pursue the career I want in the future. It has also made me realise that I might not be done with education and I am considering PhD study.

  5. Have you joined any clubs or societies, gone on any research trips or done any volunteering?

    This has probably been one of the best things about returning to uni as I got super involved to make up for missed opportunities at undergrad. As well as other things, I got involved with the Amnesty International society, got onto the committee, went to the national student conference where I was elected onto the Student Action Network committee and then elected from there to be on the Activism Sub Committee for Amnesty International UK where I represent all UK students to the Board of Directors! It just shows that getting involved at university can take you further than you think!

  6. Do you have anything lined up for once you have completed your degree?

    As well as Amnesty society, I had the voluntary Postgraduate Officer role. This year they have upgraded the position to a full time paid job which I ran for in March of this year and won, meaning that when I graduate I will do a sabbatical year representing PG students to the Guild and University. After that I would like to pursue a career in human rights activism, possibly with Amnesty International.

  7. What, for you, are the best things about the course?

    Because of its cross disciplinary nature there are so many module options, it provided me with the flexibility to pursue my interests. The teaching staff are great and really passionate about what they do and, as a lot of them are researchers themselves, it is great to be able to talk to them about their work as well as your own. Also, I would always get funny looks when I told people I did Theology, but no one asks me if I want to be a priest when I tell them I do International Law!

  8. What has been the highlight of your time at Birmingham?

    I have been the part time postgraduate officer for the Guild for the past year, it has been an amazing experience to see how the university works from the inside and sit on boards like the University Council and the Graduate School Management Board and represent the 40% of students who are undertaking PG study. I also moved to Kings Heath, just beyond Selly Oak, which has been such a cool place to live. There are constantly band nights, vintage fairs and street food fairs – I really think it is the coolest part of the city and it is so much cheaper than Selly!

  9. Can you talk a bit more about the cost of living as a postgrad student and the cost of your postgrad studies?

    The cost of living - including housing and other costs - in Birmingham can be quite cheap when compared to other cities in the UK, it is a very affordable city. The price of University accommodation can be quite high but the surrounding area of Selly Oak is a vibrant hub of students and it is easy to find a spare room in an affordable house. If you are worried about cost then looking further afield - to Kings Heath, Harborne and other areas - may be a viable option and can often be cheaper than living in Selly Oak, there are also great transport links that mean you are not missing out if you do not live nearby. The cost of the course is managable with a part time job as it is only one year - although if I had my time again I would opt for a part-time course to support myself. Hopefully postgraduate study will be easier to access this year through the new loan system but there are plenty of job opportunities available through the Guild and work is generally easy to find if you need it.

  10. Hi Rose! I’d be interested in pursuing the MA in International Law so figured I could ask someone who’s already doing it to see what it’s really like! I’ve done my undergrad at UoB in International Relations and finished it last year. I’ve now taken a year out to volunteer and get some work experience with a charity. Lately I’ve thought about doing this Masters as I miss studying and doing research and partly because I would now know the importance of being more involved in extracurricular activities. My question is whether you think this particular Masters is a good investment in terms of job prospects and what would the cons be of doing it part-time? Hope I haven’t bothered you much and thank you so much for taking the time to read this! :)

    Hi there, thanks for your question! I would say that this degree definitely opens up doors to new opportunities, I was able to refocus my area of study around career prospects and learned new skills and perspectives through the integration of Law, Philosophy and Politics. There aren't a huge amount of cons to doing it part time apart from living costs of doing two years, only you can decide whether part time study is the best option for you but if I were to go back I would have done it part time to give me more time to do more extra curricular development stuff that we offer through the Guild and University :)

  11. I am considering taking a Law PhD by distance learning. The reason why I chose the distance option is that I am a practicing lawyer based in Saudi Arabia and have two adorable kids. I got my BA from Saudi Arabia and my LLM from the United States. I am concerned about the British education as it must be pretty different that it is in the US and Saudi. How do you differ law studies in the UK for an international student? Is the education system there more concentrated on research, writing, or giving presentations? How comfortable do you think it will be for a foreign English speaker?

    Hi there, thanks for your question. I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to comment on the difference between international curricula as I've only ever studied in the UK, however I can tell you that this course is mainly assessed through essays with a few unassessed presentations depending on the modules you choose (this I'm fairly sure is quite similar to the US mode of study). It is a taught course and so is lecture and seminar based with a dissertation as the main independent research project. If you want more information about the content of the law modules you will need to contact the academic staff who convene the course - you can find them on the Birmingham website on the course finder. If you'd like more info on transitioning into studying inthe UK, here is the International Students' Association who I'm sure would be happy to help https://www.facebook.com/groups/uobisa/ Hope that helps :)

  12. Hi! I am an Italian student in the process of choosing a Masters degree. I completed a degree in Political Science and I am quite afraid of studying Law as a Masters since I don't have the competences a law student has. Since you graduated in Theology I would really like to know your experience regarding this: did you have any difficulties or feel unprepared or less prepared? Also, I'm quite curious about the final dissertation. How do you choose your supervisor and your topic? Do you think it'll be doable for a foreigner? Thank you!

    Hi there! I was terrified before starting the course that I wasn't prepared as I didn't have any background in law at all. But when I started there was an introductory module called Socio-legal Theory that introduced people from sociological/philosophical/political backgrounds to the law and helped us change the way we write. For instance, we socio people always ask 'why' things are but the law says that they just 'are' as a fact. This module integrated the two and helped us change our perspectives (and the module leader was really great and patient when we thought we were asking stupid questions!) The most difficult part for me was remembering case law but the lecturers give you weekly cases to read and evaluate so it's not as bad as I thought it would be.

    You can choose what the split of law, politics and philosohy/ethics is so if you're really worried about the law modules you don't actually have to take any - although I actually got my highest mark in my European Human Rights Law module which I wasn't expecting! I'd recommend giving things a try, Birmingham gives you up until the second week of teaching to change modules so if you start one and really don't get on with it you can always change. I changed around 80% of the modules I first signed up for.

    Your dissertation is in a topic of your choice which can seem a bit daunting. I would start thinking when you're applying what kind of topic you would like to explore and check the website to see if there are any staff who teach in that area and you can request them. You can get in contact with them when you become a student to have a chat in their office hours and see if this is something you'd like to do. Or when you have picked a topic, you can let a supervisor be assigned for you and they will be picked on the suitability to your topic.

    I can't comment on whether it will be tricky for an international student as I only have my own experience but over half of the Masters students here at Birmingham are international and I know a lot of Italian students who have loved studying here! There is English language support if you need it through the Birmingham International Academy and academic writing/learning support through the Academic Skills Centre at the Library so you won't be left on your own to figure it out!

    Hope that was helpful, feel free to ask any more questions :)