Placements Profiles and Experiences
As part of the school's inaugural Paid Placement Scheme in the spring semester of 2020/21, we asked our placement students on this scheme to provide both a written and video blog to talk about their experiences.
These students worked within the school in various roles supporting our Admissions Team, Research Centres (such as the Asia Research Institute), individual staff and much more. You can explore some of these roles from the 2020/21 year in the Paid Placement Scheme 2021 leaflet we created to advertise the roles available (in Sway format) - and we can't wait to advertise what's on offer in the coming years.
Until then, you can read extracts from the students' blogs below, as well as their video testimonies as part of their 'vlog' submissions.
Research Assistant at the Law and Policy Team, The Rights Lab
I developed a number of skills over the course of my placement which will be incredibly useful to me moving forward. I feel very fortunate that I was able to learn the skill of research by working alongside Professor James Cockayne and being mentored in the process. The placement has led me to understand what it means to work towards a defined research output as well as teaching me how to do so efficiently and comprehensively. Furthermore, I now have a working knowledge of the legal and policy environment of modern slavery, which was completely unknown to me before. Overall, these skills and learned experiences will benefit me in a number of careers, not just research.
For anyone considering a similar placement, I would say that transferable skills might be more important for your application than prior knowledge of the field. I didn’t have any experience with modern slavery before being chosen for the placement, but I applied on the basis of skills I already had - and made the most of such a valuable opportunity to work closely with an expert and be active in learning as much as possible.
Research Assistant on Witchcraft trials of Lancashire and Essex/East Anglia, with Dr David Stevens
As someone who aspired to go onto postgraduate study, one of my major concerns was how I was going to gain the research experience top universities wanted. I was therefore thrilled when I received an email from the School of Politics and International Relations advertising 15 placements that could potentially give me this experience, as part of their inaugural placements programme.
The placement I applied for consisted of being a research assistant for Dr David Stevens. My role was to conduct research on the East Anglian witch trials, specifically with the broader goal of the project in mind; this was to explain these trials using a rational choice theory methodology.
What I enjoyed most about the placement was the freedom and flexibility I had. Dr Stevens gave me a significant degree of autonomy, letting me structure the research according to my intuitions. This allowed me to provide a more novel input than I would otherwise have been able to.
Research Assistant on the British royal family and secret intelligence, with Professor Rory Cormac
This placement was particularly fulfilling for several reasons. Firstly, I am personally looking to establish a freelance copy-editing business upon my eventual graduation. Participation in this placement has given me invaluable experience within this particular area and I am confident that I will draw on skills developed over the last three months in my future career.
Secondly, the placement taught me the value of time management and flexibility in a professional academic setting.
I would say that this and similar placements would be really beneficial to anybody with similar aspirations of moving into academia. The only way to gain experience in this area is to throw yourself in to it, and I wholeheartedly recommend doing just that!
I was tasked with updating ARI’s Asia Expertise Guide which includes profiles of nearly 200 academics across the university’s three campuses in the UK, China, and Malaysia. Colleagues included in this Expertise Guide are from various disciplines and have specialist knowledge on the major challenges and opportunities in Asia. Alongside collecting and managing a vast amount of data, I also undertook training in content management system (CMS). This training has enabled me to understand the process of creating and updating webpages on the University’s official website which was completely brand-new territory for me.
My entire placement experience has been extremely positive as I have thoroughly enjoyed the work I did and learnt valuable new skills that will certainly be of use as I start my career soon. Although I thrive in a team environment, I appreciated the degree of autonomy and independent work I did during this placement. It not only allowed me to ensure I was able to balance both work and academic commitments, but it also instilled a greater sense of personal accountability and vastly improved my time management and organisational skills.
Vlogs for the Paid Placement Scheme
Kristina Lesnjak - Vlog on placement at The Rights Lab.
Alisha Roy - Vlog on placement at the PGR Development team at SPIR.
Profiles and experiences on the Politics Placement Module
BA Politics and International Relations student, Margot Sprague-Davies, talks about her placement at Mojatu Foundation.
The student placement experience: Third year MSci student Emily Cheyne discusses her placement.
Natasha Johnson-Richards from Go Digit All discusses the value of placements for interns and businesses.
BA Politics and International Relations student, Stefano Obata, talks about his placement experience.
Placement at Nottingham Citizens as part of a hate crime project
The Politics Placement Module is an excellent way to gain invaluable work experience, develop your CV and conduct your own research on a topic which interests you. It is more challenging but more fun than other modules as you are taken out of your comfort zone.
I would recommend being open and honest with your placement supervisor to ensure you get the most out of the placement. I improved my relational skills through organising meetings with important members of the university, convincing others to take 10 minutes out of their day to help with my research, learning from people I would have never had the chance to meet otherwise. Help on the module is available throughout from the careers team, Steve and Kyriaki who are experts in their field.
Placement with Project Hope, Rosie May Foundation
Second-year BA Politics and International Relations student Velislava Gateva spent this summer on a placement in Sri Lanka, which was organised through the School of Politics and International Relations' placement programme. Here, she tells us about her experience working as a Research Intern with the Rosie May Foundation at their Project Hope office in Telwatta.
Placement with the Electoral Reform Society
Expenses in the House of Lords were recently called into question by the national media thanks to research conducted by a politics student. Emma Levin, third-year BA Politics and Economics student, spent this summer on an internship organised through the School of Politics and International Relations' placement programme. Her placement was with the Electoral Reform Society, where she researched and analysed Peers' use of expenses.
She found that over half made 10 or fewer spoken contributions for the entire 2016/17 Parliamentary session, yet these members claimed over £7.3m in expenses. Over a third (36%) of peers spoke five times or fewer in the past year – with many turning up to just to vote while contributing to a £4.1m bill for the taxpayer.
Placement with the Centre for African Studies
Giulia Abrate, BA Politics and International Relations student, recently completed an international placement in Italy with the Centre for African Studies. Here, she tells us about her experience.
Placement with the Rosie May Foundation
The brief for my research internship was to write a report on the right to education in post-earthquake Nepal, focusing on the work of the Rosie May Foundation in rebuilding a school in the rural village of Meselme.
Flying out to Kathmandu, I didn't know what to expect, but was greeted upon arrival by a member of their partner organisation based in Nepal, SAHAS, and driven to my accommodation. Straight away I was made to feel at home, and was introduced to Alice, a fellow University of Nottingham student who would be conducting the research with me.