Emily Oxbury, History and Politics BA
"I don't really have a set career in mind, there's so many different roles I'd love to take on. But what I always come back to is how I know that history and politics has given me skills that I can use in a multitude of areas."
What made you choose your course?
"I did both history and politics at A level and absolutely loved both subjects. I didn’t know which one to take at uni. The joint honours programme offered the perfect mix of both. The first-year modules were very open as well, particularly for history. They gave me a great overview."
Tell me about the introductory 'Learning History' first-year module...
"It’s very much a skills-based module. It was so useful. I had a long break from finishing sixth form in May, to starting uni in September – I thought 'how on Earth do I write an essay? What is this thing called referencing?!' The module took those worries away."
It was guiding us through how to do history, teaching you all the skills, just getting you set up to do history at an undergraduate level.
What’s been your favourite module so far?
"The second-year history module, 'Poverty, Disease and Disability: Britain 1795-1930'. It was so interesting to study this during the time of Covid. You could see so many parallels. Although we were looking at something that was happening hundreds of years ago, things like the Cholera riots had parallels to the anti-vax movement, for instance.
I find it really interesting when you can draw parallels between studying something so far in the past and the modern day.
I also got to create a board game for my assessment, which was something I absolutely loved. It didn’t feel like I was doing work!"
The second year 'History and Politics: A Problem or Solution?' module is specially designed for this course. How was that?
"It was great to meet those just doing the History and Politics BA. The module brought together historical analysis, and the skills of the historian, along with political science. In history you often get given chapters of books to read, whereas in politics you get given articles and journals. It showed how and why the two disciplines can work very well together."
What are the main skills you’ve gained so far?
"Both subjects require a lot of analysis, gathering sources, gathering evidence. That’s translated great into my work at the University Radio Nottingham (URN). If I get given someone to interview, I have to do background research, write a brief, then select the most appropriate audio for the end piece.
There’s a lot of skills that I’ve already seen translate into work scenarios.
Then the assessments, things like presentations and group posters, build up your confidence with public speaking. We’re being given a chance to develop a lot of different skills both through the assessments and the way that we learn."
How did you choose your optional modules?
"At the start I was quite closed-minded. I came in thinking 'I don’t like Tudors, I don’t like medieval stuff, let's stay as modern as possible'. But I ended up really loving the bits I thought I wouldn’t enjoy as much!
The first-year modules really opened my eyes to having a go at something new. I thought, 'Why just regurgitate what I did at A level, when we have these experts in so many different areas?'. We don’t just do British history or even Western history. I did an essay on the partition of India for instance, I learnt about the liberation of North Africa – it really made me more adventurous with my module choices."
What’s your dissertation on?
I’m writing about the TV show Bridgerton. It’s looking at the social season and women’s history, and how women were presented to society at the time. I’m exploring what were the social pressures and expectations on women, comparing that to why is it romanticised in modern day culture and historical works like Bridgerton.
"I’m ultimately looking at a lot of memoirs and comparing that to the portrayal of the debutante in Bridgerton and other shows alike. Also, Bridgerton only came out a year ago, so I’m one of the first people writing about it, which is really cool."
Any staff shout-outs?
"It sounds cliché, but honestly, the entirety of both departments! I’ve been so supported by every tutor that I’ve had.
My two main shout-outs are Gulshan Khan from politics and Sarah Holland from history. Gulshan absolutely made me fall in love with political theory. That was something I struggled with at A level. She made it so engaging, so enjoyable and interesting, I ended up taking political theory modules in my first, second and third year!
Sarah is my dissertation supervisor. She’s been so helpful, really lovely, she always sends over articles or books if she thinks of something. She’s so quick to respond and help out, but hasn’t been too pushy. It’s that perfect amount of help, she knows when to step back and when to give me a hand."
Are you part of any societies?
"I do three societies – the Scouts and Guides society, I’m part of ladies cricket, and then my big one is University Radio Nottingham (URN). I’m head of station this year which is absolutely amazing. I love it!"
URN has offered me so many experiences, from working with Students' Union (SU) officers, doing the SU election coverage, to attending the 2019 general election count at Broxtowe, interviewing the candidates. It’s very much using the skills from my degree; the politics and journalism side works well together.
What are your future career plans?
I’ve applied for a masters at Nottingham, in history. I just want to further develop my research skills and do a deeper dive into the subject. That’s my short term plan.
Afterwards it's finding something that combines my love of all areas, politics, history and the media side of things. Being a historical researcher for a TV show would be amazing, or doing a historical podcast."
I feel like there’s a lot of options, it’s just choosing something I know I’ll love!
What does ‘success’ look like to you?
"Feeling like I’ve got a degree that I’ve enjoyed. I’ve studied new areas and learnt a lot more about history, politics and myself and my learning style – that’s something I’m proud of. I’m also really proud of the essays and research I’ve been doing this year.
On a wider level, if I can just affect one person’s like in a positive way, I’ll have been successful. Whether it’s helping out another student as a peer mentor, or going on to work in the UN and solving an international problem, either way it’s a success for me if it’s positively impacted someone’s life."
Anything else to add?
The School of Politics and International Relations are very good at putting on talks. I’ve been to ones with people from the UN, politicians, the charity sector. I’ve been given a lot of help and guidance. There’s been a lot of support to think about careers and ways to get involved.
"Also, just that I love the university! The campus is beautiful and the pastoral care that I’ve been experienced has been great. My course makes it so enjoyable, but you add on the societies and it’s just my home now. I’ve really enjoyed it and don’t want to leave!"
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