Kay Binder

Politics and International Relations with a Year in Continental Europe

The lectures and seminars are really engaging, and you get very helpful feedback on your essays. All the professors are excellent, and are experts in so many different specialities.

Why did you choose Kent?

The School of Politics and International Relations is very well-respected, so I came to an Open Day and loved the campus, and Canterbury. Everyone seemed so friendly –there were student ambassadors who really wanted to talk to us, not just because it was their job to promote the University. Now, having studied here for several years, I can see it wasn’t put on for show – it really is a friendly, supportive place.

How is your course going?

Really well. As I didn’t have an A level in Politics I was anxious that I’d be up against students who had already studied the subject. But the first-year compulsory modules give you a solid foundation, and help you find particular areas of interest. There’s such a variety of modules and I’ve been able to study things I’d never considered, such as Political Research and Analysis, and discovered that I was really interested in the EU. Then there are wild modules, giving even more scope.

What’s the teaching like at Kent?

It’s great and, considering how nervous I was to start, not at all intimidating. The lectures and seminars are really engaging, and you get very helpful feedback on your essays. All the professors are excellent, and are experts in so many different specialities.

What about the level of support in your studies?

Everyone has an academic advisor, then there are mentor schemes, student support officers, help with internships and employability; if ever you hit a problem you’ll immediately find help. Office hours seem very good so people are always accessible.

How was your year abroad?

I went to Sciences Po Paris; it’s globally rated as one of the top five universities for Politics and it was a wonderful opportunity to study there. The teaching is similar to the UK, but the assessment is different – you get lots of presentations and assignments through the year so you have loads of smaller, weekly deadlines. That, and being taught in French, made me work really hard, but it was very enjoyable, and everyone was welcoming.

What kind of career do you hope to follow?

I’d like to work in a think tank as a researcher, because politics is such an interesting area and it affects everything. But it isn’t very easy to get into, and you definitely need a Master’s; I’ve just submitted my application for a Master’s in European Affairs, hoping to go back to Sciences Po Paris; I’m looking for work experience too.

What’s the accommodation like on campus?

When I saw Park Wood, the student village, on the Open Day, I could definitely see myself living there. It was really cool to be in a house and yet still be on campus. We were right next to a restaurant, launderette and shop, so it was perfect. I got on really well with everyone in the house, and we stayed together for the next year.

What about the facilities on campus?

Wherever you are, nothing seems more than five minutes away. There are loads of places to eat; there’s the main shop as well as the one in Park Wood. The library’s great. It’s being renovated at the moment, but it’s so huge that there’s still always somewhere to study. And around the campus, if you explore, you gradually discover there are so many little spaces to study.

How would you describe your fellow students?

There’s a fabulous mix of different people – Kent really is the UK’s European university. It’s particularly good when you’re studying Politics because there’s always someone from another country who can provide a different angle on things. In one seminar we were talking about post-Soviet states and one student was from Albania so could give us an insider’s view.

What do you do in your spare time?

I’m a member of the University’s Musical Theatre Society, and at the moment we’re rehearsing all the time for a show.. I also work part-time as a researcher for one of the School’s professors, and I’m a student ambassador, so help on Open Days.

Any advice for students coming to Kent?

Do it! Talk to everyone in Freshers Week because people are much more open then and it’s a good time to make friends. Join societies – but don’t make the mistake of signing up to everything. Engage with lectures and seminars, don’t just sit there, and don’t worry if it seems daunting to start; it does get easier.