Undergraduate Profiles

Becca Grinstead - BA International Politics

Why did you choose to study International Politics in Aberystwyth?

I have always had a passion for politics. On Open Days, this passion was echoed by the teaching staff and the students that I met. I loved the modules and opportunities that were offered such as the Crisis Games. It was also an added bonus that this department is the first of its kind, which I found very interesting.

How has it been studying International Politics so far and what are some of the most enjoyable aspects of studying International Politics?              

Although it has been stressful at times, I have loved every minute of studying International politics, the teaching staff have been very supportive throughout this experience offering help and expertise. This year I have been educated in subjects I have never learnt before such as the modules ‘Spies at War’, the ability to walk into a lecture hall or seminar and being able to learn from both staff and student is great.

Living in Aberystwyth?  

I love Aberystwyth, it is extremely different to where I come from but how can you not love somewhere that is beside the sea although Penglais Hill is not as enjoyable as the views!

Advice for students considering studying International Politics.

I would say throw yourself into the department as much as possible and keep an open mind. It can be very scary to speak to new people, however if you engage with your class mates and staff then you’ll have the best years of studying here.

Akos Erzse - BA International Politics with Intelligence Studies

There were two reasons I decided to study at Aber - the Department is the oldest in the world, established in 1919, and its prestigious reputation reached me even before I began thinking about studying in the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, I became absolutely sure of my decision after I spent a couple of days here with a good friend of mine.

During my first year, I was introduced to the basic concepts and ideas of international and domestic politics. I read the works written by some of the most important political thinkers, past and present; and enriched my knowledge on issues such as postcolonialism and gender.

The true fun began in second year when the immense vault of knowledge offered by the Department truly opened up. As I chose from the wide selection of modules available, I found myself getting the chance to engage and explore topics like the thrilling world of Cold War espionage, the psychological explanations behind intelligence failures, and even the use of child soldiers in weaponised conflicts.

Nonetheless, life at Aber is not only about writing essays, sitting in the library or going to seminars. The Department never fails to offer new opportunities to go beyond your basic academic duties. There are public lectures, research seminars and talks given by guest speakers almost every week. A talk was given by the former Director of the MI5, Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, for example. There are constant calls for essay submissions to competitions, or for applications for exciting new projects.

I held a presentation at the first E H Carr Student Conference organized entirely by students from the Department, and wrote an article to the Interstate Journal of International Affairs. I became a co-editor at the Journal and I helped organize the second E H Carr Student Conference, which was extremely rewarding.

At the end of my first year, I took part in the North American Exchange Programme. I got to spend the first semester of my second year at the amazing McGill University in Montreal, Canada with three of my fellow Aber students! Those four months were magical times. Naturally, I had to study a lot, but I also went on a hike around Mt Tremblant with my flatmates, celebrated the winter equinox with a Mohawk tribe near Akwesasne, took a four day trip to Philadelphia, Washington and Pittsburgh, and made many new friends I keep in touch with even today.

Then I was granted a place on the Parliamentary Placement Scheme, which offered me a chance to experience politics from a whole new perspective. I spent a couple of weeks working closely with an Assembly Member and his staff in his office at the National Assembly for Wales. As a research intern, my daily duties ranged from finding valuable information on a specific topic, analysing and collating that information and then presenting my findings in a coherent and processable way. I also accompanied the Assembly Member to meetings and interviews, while also helping out with every-day work related matters he required assistance with. The breathtaking amount of dedication I witnessed amongst officers during the few weeks I was there motivated me beyond description.

If you value having chances at exploring engaging new fields in International Politics and getting endless, wholehearted support to constantly better yourself and achieve more, then the International Politics department at Aberystwyth should be your first choice!



Gabrielle Lyimo - BA International Politics

Why did you choose to study International Politics in Aberystwyth?
The political climate of the United Kingdom after the 2016 Brexit Referendum got me thinking in more detail about what needs changing in the UK to make it a fairer place.

How has it been studying International Politics so far and what are some of the most enjoyable aspects of studying International Politics?
Studying International Politics has been enjoyable and very in-depth with the content for all the topics that have been covered. The opportunity to share and expand my knowledge with other students has made me become more open minded and made my studies much more enjoyable. One of the modules I have studied that has opened my eyes is Dr Gillian McFadyen’s module on Global Inequality and International Politics was very interesting – I didn’t think that religion and culture could affect inequality in the depths that it did.

Living in Aberystwyth?
Living in Aberystwyth has been amazing, I love the calmer pace of life, especially living by the sea. It’s always refreshing and you can never get bored of the amazing scenery.

Advice for students considering studying International Politics.
Definitely do the readings and go on the Crisis Games. Always have an open mind and even if you don’t agree with what’s been said, don’t be afraid to challenge it. Talk to the lecturers about assignments and anything you’re unclear of because they’re there to help.

Trayana Vladimirova - BA International Politics and Law

When I found out about Aberystwyth, I knew straight away that this was the place for me. I didn’t have the luxury of actually coming and seeing the place – I judged the department purely on its academic reputation and on the prospectuses, which proved remarkably correct.

Later on, I applied for an entrance scholarship which I’m now a very proud holder of Aberystwyth’s excellent academic reputation in International Politics, coupled with the range of scholarships it offers defined my choice, which I don’t regret.

What I enjoyed about the department is its flexibility. You can combine your major in InterPol with a variety of subjects – from law and economics to different foreign languages, or you can opt for a joint honours degree. Although your degree is in your own hands, you get a lot of help along the way. Everyone in the department always welcomes you with a smile and is ready to help. You always get very prompt feedback on your coursework and exams, so you know what you’ve done well in, what you need to improve on and why you have been marked in a certain way.

As well as what happens in class, you have many extra-curricular activities to choose from. For example, during my first year, I participated in the department student-led undergrad conference on Water Cooperation where I gave a presentation. Later on, I participated in an International Undergraduate Conference at the UEL, where I was able to use my presentation from the Aberystwyth conference.

My highlight for this academic year, though, was my Parliamentary Placement, which was organized by the Department. I worked for an MP in the British Parliament for six weeks. I thought it would be very hard, however, I was pleasantly surprised that through my university studies, I was very much prepared for it – I managed to settle into the atmosphere of Westminster very quickly and worked as if I wasn’t an intern, but a full-time member of staff of an MP. All of this thanks to the skills I acquired at Aberystwyth.

Nathan Hazlehurst - BScEcon International Politics and International History

From my first open day at Aberystwyth, I knew I wanted to study there. The staff were incredibly welcoming, the students showing people around were fantastic and the ‘mock lecture’ was really interesting. I studied for, and gained, an entrance scholarship by completing two arduous exams, exams which gave me a good idea on what university life would be like.

First year at Aberystwyth is built so that every student gains a broad understanding of the international politics field. I studied subjects I had never considered previously, and enjoyed being able to meet and discuss issues with a big group of people. I also got to know the staff, and saw first-hand how helpful they can be when things don’t go to plan.

In second and third year, you can really specialise on topics you enjoy. Interpol has a fantastic range of module choices, and experts in subjects that I had never considered studying previously. I looked at military history across the world, the political ramifications of public health crises and the foreign policy implications of Islam, amongst many other subjects. The dissertation module, though initially appearing daunting, gives students the skills to write a fantastic piece of work, with directed support from your tutor and general help from lectures.

Alongside the formal teaching, Aberystwyth has an amazing range of external speakers. During my three years, I saw the RAF Group Captain in charge of British operations in Libya, a BBC journalist talking about the politics of reporting at the Olympic Games and a former Australian Ambassador talking about WMDs in Iraq, amongst many others.

I attended two crisis games during my time at Aberystwyth. My first concerned the situation in Syria, where I was put as head of the Israeli military in dealing with the on-going crisis. My second looked at the intelligence surrounding the Sochi winter Olympics, where I was head of a very Reith-ian Russia Today. Both of these games gave me a much greater understanding of how decisions can be made in fraught circumstances, and just how difficult it can be to be a political decision maker.

Outside of the department, I devoted a lot of my time to St John Cymru-Wales and to the Air Training Corps, using presentation skills I gained in my academic work to become a trainer in both organisations. I used my skills of working under pressure when deployed in 2014 to coordinate the medical response to the floods in Aberystwyth, and worked alongside senior university staff to ensure all students kept safe.

Aberystwyth is a fantastic place to study. The staff are impeccable, supporting you through your studies and giving you a world-class education. You get the chance to really explore the field you want to be in, and leave with much more than just a degree.

The skills and experiences I gained from my degree have helped me gain work as a Prevent and Cohesion Officer for a local authority. Here I work alongside colleagues from multiple agencies to keep the people of my city protected from radicalisation, and support efforts to create a cohesive community. I could not have done this without the grounding I gained at Aberystwyth.

Joscha Sisnowski - BA International Politics and Global Development

Why did you choose to study International Politics in Aberystwyth?

I was attracted to study in the department because of its excellent reputation and the fact that it offered exactly the degree I was looking for with a variety of different modules. The acceptance letter was accompanied by a great personal letter which convinced me to come to Aberystwyth.

How has it been studying International Politics so far and what are some of the most enjoyable aspects of studying International Politics?

Overall it has been a great experience. Of course there is pressure involved as with every study but the support from lecturers and other students has been excellent. Now that the dissertation deadlines nears the pressure of course becomes higher but I feel well equipped to take the next step. The ability to look at subjects without bias of an agenda, just having the opportunity to discover and ideas with a lot of support from my lecturers who were always easily accessible. The exchange opportunities were excellent, giving me the chance to spend a semester in the USA. The department is always trying to get speakers delivering guest lecturers, which, in the majority, are very interesting. The possibility of choosing modules from every aspect of the political studies is a great extra and allowed me to more or less ‘build’ my own degree.

Living in Aberystwyth?

Living in Aberystwyth has it ups and downs (quiet literally considering the hill). Once I got used to the advantages of a small community, the possibility to walk everywhere and enjoy bbqs during sunsets on the beach I really enjoyed my experience, but struggled a bit to fit in during my first year. After that, all those little things as affordability, a good housing market and the - despite the size of the town - vibrant community outweigh the negative aspects if living rather isolated.

Advice for students considering studying International Politics

First of all: Do it. Second, try to approach any subject as open minded as possible. We all have preconceived opinions on political subjects and problems and you get the best experience if you are open to be convinced by other viewpoints.

Joseph Garibaldi - BA International Politics and Intelligence Studies

Why did you choose to study International Politics in Aberystwyth?

One of the main reasons was the fact that I could choose well over half of my modules from year 2 onwards. The modules I saw online aligned with my own interests, and there were some really interesting sounding ‘wildcard’ modules that I hadn’t even considered.

How has it been studying International Politics so far and what are some of the most enjoyable aspects of studying International Politics?

I like that the department feels big enough to attract international staff but is small enough that everyone is approachable. One of the modules called ‘War Crimes’ has been extremely interesting, and has helped me a build a sense of ‘professional detachment’. Another module I really enjoyed was International Politics and Global Inequality which changed my perspectives on so much, it makes you realise how narrow the school national curriculum is with regards to international relations.

Living in Aberystwyth?

When the weather is clear, and you can have a BBQ with your mates on the beach, you realise why you decided to come, also, everything is cheap here!

Advice for students considering studying International Politics?

Read the news everyday if you can: I used to read it with my breakfast. Consider trying international news sites like Reuters, CNN or Al-Jazeera. You don’t realise how much soft knowledge you absorb until you get to university and it all becomes relevant.

Rex Chan - International Politics (Exchange Student)

Rex Chan studied studied International Politics in the Department whilst on an exchange from Hong Kong Baptist University in 2017. He is happy for us to share his words written to a member of the academic team following his time here -

"Thank you very much for your hospitable welcome. That has been a great relief to me, especially when it was my first time to be in Britain. I am now doing revision for the final exam and will be leaving Aber once I have finished it.

I am more than happy to tell you that this semester has been a remarkable experience in my university life. Studying in Aber was/is  a special treat for me - rewarding and cosy. Living by the seaside in a small town has long been one of my dreams, and I still could not believe that it's taking place right now! All of the three modules which I have taken were indeed mind-opening and inspiring, which made me often ask myself why I study international politics and that in turn further strengthen my passion in studying IR.

Apart from studying in Aber, I've also participated quite a lot of MUN conferences and a MEU conference in Strasbourg. All these exposures were precious to me and I will share with Prof. Cabestan and my fellow school mates of my life while exchange for sure!"