Rachel is a Rotary Peace Fellow and international student studying MA International Relations and Security Studies here at The University of Bradford. She tells us about her time studying postgraduate so far and why she chose Bradford.
Rachel Brooks, MA International Relations and Security Studies
Before postgraduate classes started in September, I attended an introductory session for international students where I found a flyer that said “Changemaker? Peacemaker? Troublemaker?” on my desk and knew I was in the right place. Now with the first term of my MA in the Division of Peace Studies & International Development (PSID) completed, I am more confident than ever that I made the right decision to come to Bradford as the next step in my journey.
Why apply to Bradford?
I knew I wanted to apply to graduate school through the Rotary Peace Fellowship, which is designed for leaders with work experience in peace and development. Having lived abroad and been in the workforce for a few years, I carefully examined the various Rotary Peace Centres around the world for their fit with my future plans. For me, the University of Bradford made the most sense. Bradford’s Rotary Peace Centre closely aligned with my goal to specialise in international security and technology within the framework of peace studies, and the program’s core modules and flexible options would enable me to build expertise and meet my objectives.
Bradford boasts a number of peace and security experts as faculty and I had spoken to a number of Bradford alumni who were delighted with their experiences. Program alums have gone on to work for the Red Cross, the United Nations High Commission and the Human Rights, Save the Children, International Organisation for Migration and a range of other high-impact peacebuilding organisations. One Bradford alumna told me the time in Bradford for her MA was the best year of her life. I submitted my Rotary Peace Fellowship application with Bradford as my top choice.
First-rate experiential learning opportunities in the classroom
Since being accepted to the fellowship at Bradford and enrolling, I have gotten the opportunity to take fascinating courses with small class sizes and work closely with professors on a range of initiatives. In Bradford’s PSID Division, you can choose a twelve-month or fifteen-month track. As a Rotary Peace Fellow, I am on the fifteen-month track, which means students do a summer Applied Fieldwork Experience (AFE) after spring coursework. Following the summer experience, students return to Bradford in the fall to complete dissertations. Students on the twelve-month track complete their dissertation in the summer after spring coursework.
While the Applied Fieldwork Experience is a great way to gain hands-on experience, there are plenty of ways to engage on campus as well. My Critical Perspectives on Sustainable Development course last term included engagement with external speakers and a visit to the Bradford waste management facilities. The learnings did not stop when the course finished.
After taking that module, I represented Bradford as part of the 2020 World Technology Universities Network (WTUN) digital creativity team and presented my corporate social responsibility research from that class to students in the business school during immersion week. As another example, many of my peers are currently on an Africa Study Visit, a module where students have the opportunity to conduct guided fieldwork in The Gambia for two weeks this spring, after taking African Politics and Security Dynamics in the fall term.
First-rate experiential learning opportunities outside of the classroom
Outside the classroom, I am active in the Peace Society, particularly the “Clean Our Streets” initiative to litter pick streets around the University and host community conversations around sustainability. The community of peacebuilders I met through the Peace Society is close to my heart. We have come together for international potluck nights, film screenings, holiday gatherings and football practices for an annual football match between peace studies at the University of Bradford and war studies at King’s College London. This match is fittingly called the “Tolstoy Cup” after the author of War and Peace.
Outside of PSID, I have gotten to know others across campus through my weekly German class run by the Language Centre, Bradford Global Cafe events for international students and Bradford Student Cinema (BSC) where I have bonded with friends over movies I might not otherwise have watched. BSC hosts movie nights right on campus twice a week! The films are the perfect pick-me-up after long library sessions. I am also a student ambassador, which is a great opportunity to share my experiences with prospective students.
I recently returned from a study trip to Oslo, Norway and a peace, conflict and development conference in Cairo, Egypt, two incredible opportunities I will carry with me long after I graduate.
Now nestled back in Bradford, I am participating in professional development as part of spring immersion week while working on my readings and assignments for my courses. This spring, I am taking Political Violence and Terrorism, Gender, Conflict & Development and Environment, Trafficking, and Crime: Transnational Issues and International Governance. After spring term concludes, I will complete my Applied Fieldwork Experience as part of the fifteen-month MA program before coming back to Bradford to finish my research and dissertation in international security.
I could not have imagined all of the unforgettable opportunities postgraduate studies at Bradford would bring and I am excited for the learning and growth ahead of me as I continue my studies. If you are interested in exploring postgraduate studies in Bradford’s renowned Division of Peace Studies and International Development, check out the website for more information.
My advice to you is the same advice I received from a mentor and dear British friend in nearby Keighley: “grab this opportunity with both hands.”