Why should you study a degree in Politics and Contemporary History at Salford?
Students and graduates from our Politics and Contemporary History degrees all have one thing in common: a passion for 20th-century history, international relations, intelligence, and politics.
Our graduates have gone on to support their local community as Councillor, teach in academia, and find successful roles in intelligence, policing and the Royal Navy. They are putting what they’ve learnt on our specialist degree programmes into practice for some of the greatest organisations and non-profits in the United Kingdom, and beyond.
But what does that really mean? In this blog, you’ll hear from our graduates and current students about their experience of choosing a Politics and Contemporary History degree at the University of Salford.
Oliver Nobbs, second year BA (Hons) student
“After visiting several universities on open days, it was only at the University of Salford where the course, tutors, students and campus all felt right for me"
I chose to study BA (Hons) Contemporary Military and International History (CMIH) here at the University of Salford because it was the course which suited my long-standing passion and interest in military history. No other course offered the same opportunities for me as I found similar programmes have over-specialised in the social or political aspects of war, whereas Salford offers a greater variety of subjects through their available modules.
Finding others who I am able to debate and intellectually engage with on a subject I enjoy, has been a fantastic experience I had never been able to have before, as while studying on this course I have met like-minded people who have similar interests.
One of my personal highlights of this course so far has been the engaging seminars, where we have the opportunity to revisit and debate the merits of highly contentious subjects such as Strategic Bombing. These discussions have been as invaluable as they have fascinating, as preconceptions I was never aware I had can be challenged and either discarded or upheld in light of the more rigorous analysis.
The course covers a wonderful variety of subjects, and highlights for me include gaining a newfound appreciation for the modernity of the campaigns of Helmuth von Moltke the Elder in the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War, and charting the development of armoured warfare from its inception in the First World War into its current role seen in Ukraine, to analysing the importance of military theorists such as Carl von Clausewitz and Giulio Douhet for not only historical warfare, but their enduring relevance in ongoing conflicts.
Through my studies I have gained a range of analytical skills and research techniques, from enhanced logical debating skills and more critical analysis to archival research and academically rigorous referencing, all of which are highly valuable and easily transferrable to a variety of professions.
As I have thoroughly enjoyed the course, I would strongly recommend the BA (Hons) Contemporary Military and International History course to prospective students who also share a passion for military history, and those who wish to gain a new appreciation for an increasingly relevant field of academic study. I would also equally recommend the other Politics and Contemporary History courses to anyone who wishes for a broader focus in their studies.
William Burnett-Boothroyd, second year BA (Hons) student
“The teaching staff at the University of Salford are absolutely amazing and are invested in all aspects of your university experience. As Salford is a smaller university the student-staff relationship is much more mentor/mentee instead of a classical student/teacher one which was a major selling point for myself "
I chose to study BA (Hons) Contemporary Military and International History at the University of Salford because of my interest in Military and International affairs, with a long-term aspiration to join the Royal Navy or the intelligence services.
Some of my personal highlights from the course so far have been the trip to the Imperial War Museum Cosford with the Airpower module, presenting to prospective students at Open Days, and enjoying the modules on the course.
The teaching staff at the University of Salford are absolutely amazing and are invested in all aspects of your university experience. I have repeatedly gone to my lecturers with ideas for both the course and for help with other activities outside of university.
The beauty of studying a course like CMIH at Salford is the breadth of modules available for study. For example, this year my modules ranged from ‘Armoured Warfare’ to ‘Security Intelligence and Politics in Britain’. This diversity is fantastic for developing a wide range of in-depth knowledge which facilitates employment or further specialist studies. I have particularly enjoyed the intelligence and security-related modules, and my current intention is to apply for a Master's degree in the intelligence field.
I would highly recommend both the University of Salford and CMIH to any prospective student considering pursuing higher education in the future. My experience thus far has been excellent, and the quality of the teaching staff is exemplary. Smaller class sizes mean that the student-staff relationship is much more mentor/mentee instead of a classical student/teacher one, which was a major selling point for myself.
Kennedy Hill, MA student
“To anyone debating whether to become a future student of Terrorism and Security at Salford, all I have to say is: DO IT. You will not have a single regret. Whether you’ve had a break from education and are deliberating whether to jump straight back into the deep end, or are continuing on from something else, do it. "
My interest in the subject of terrorism and security developed for a number of reasons, and personal circumstance is one of the greatest. I was at the Ariana Grande concert in 2017 when the bomb went off in Manchester Arena and if anything, it has only made my passion fiercer - there is now a real need and want to be a part of a change, the journey and the general arena of terrorism and security policies within the UK.
After studying for a degree in Criminology, I wanted to pursue further study, particularly in the field of terrorism and security. I found the MA here at University of Salford and to be honest, the rest is history.
The lecturers I have met since starting my course, particularly the likes of my supervisor and course leader, Anna Kruglova and lecturer, Patrick Kiernan, have quite literally been my educational rocks; they have continued to give me pep talks, inspire me (effortlessly) week in week out, push and support me to be better, have not stopped believing I can do this (even when I’ve had my doubts) and at times, remind me why I even started. It was a real honour for me to receive the 2022 award for Best Postgraduate Student within the Politics and Contemporary History department.
As I am sure many students, current or otherwise, reading this know, working two jobs, trying to maintain a generally healthy lifestyle, socialise, sleep, still allow time for my love of film photography, and study for this MA has been a challenge, but for me, as I currently sit here, shackled to my desk writing my dissertation, there isn’t a single part of me which would have had it any other way.
To anyone debating whether to become a future student of Terrorism and Security at Salford, all I have to say is: DO IT. You will not have a single regret. Whether you’ve had a break from education and are deliberating whether to jump straight back into the deep end, or are continuing on from something else, do it.
My aspiration after graduating from the University of Salford is to work within counterterrorism, whether that be private, third sector or governmental. The future is bright and whilst that is down to my hard work, the University of Salford has enabled me to get to where I am today.
JAMES WATSON, LOCAL COUNCILLOR / VETERANS CHAMPION, WIGAN COUNCIL, CLASS OF 2018
“When I was medically discharged from the British Army in 2015, I was recovering from a spinal injury sustained in Afghanistan some years earlier. This injury limited my options for physical re-training until I was presented with an academic alternative. Fortunately, my life experience from 20 years in the infantry enabled me to enrol onto the Contemporary Military and International History course. This course seemed tailored to my passion for both the military and history, yet it was the political aspect of the course that would later supersede these, and my dissertation analysing the Anglo-American Special Relationship is testament to this.”
As a local politician, author, and veteran’s campaigner, I am grateful for my time at Salford as if not for the life experience gained from the lectures and students as part of my own academic journey, I fundamentally believe that I would not have been able to achieve so much post-graduation.
I graduated with First Class Honours, and this was due to the help and support from my lecturers and fellow students. Throughout my time at the University of Salford the one consistent highlight was the eagerness and passion of the lecturers. These traits became infectious and rubbed off on all of us-, to the extent that we would frequently participate in debates that lasted beyond our seminar and class time. If it were not for this contagious enthusiasm, I doubt that I would have achieved such honours. In my final year, I was presented with a student ambassador’s award but surprisingly this nor my First Class Honours were the high points of my time at Salford as it was the friendships that I made along the way that stand out.
As a mature student in my late 30s, I frequently found myself being inspired by some of the younger students half my age. I learned a lot from my fellow students, and this was the foundation of my own academic journey and the successes. Conflicting ideas and perceptions allowed me to grow, as I listened to different viewpoints, political ideologies, and theories. These experiences of political debate remain, and I often look back fondly at some of these discussions as more than often, I was in the wrong!
I had joined the British Army at 16 years old, and for my whole adult life, the military environment was all that I had known. However, my time at Salford helped me to adapt back into civilian life and gave me the confidence to campaign and to be vocal about veterans’ welfare and the issues they face post-discharge. This newfound self-belief gave me the courage to get involved in local politics - a platform that I use to be vocal about veterans, PTSD, and poor mental health in general. I am convinced that my time at Salford gave me the tools to publish my first book which challenges the British Army’s mental health policies, and this is just the first in a series. As a local politician, author, and veteran’s campaigner, I am grateful for my time at Salford as if not for the life experience gained from the lectures and students as part of my own academic journey, I fundamentally believe that I would not have been able to achieve so much post-graduation.
SASHA PECKHAM, VISITOR EXPERIENCE ASSISTANT AT CASTLEFIELD VIADUCT NATIONAL TRUST, CLASS OF 2022
My experience of studying Contemporary History at Salford was life changing! I came in as a slightly older student who has children so was in a slightly different position than the rest of my cohort but the support I received set me up for life after university.
When I was picking my course I went with my passion! I have always loved history and it’s always been a big part of my life, I figured if I did something I loved I’d never ‘work’ again and it was the best decision I could have made!
The highlight of the course for me was the creative freedom that came with studying at Salford. The choice of modules was wide and catered to lots of different interests which allowed me to pick topics I was genuinely interested in which is why I believe I did so well.
The tutors were all so supportive and are willing to go the extra mile - they will be right behind you! I had a few personal health issues during my time at Salford and the tutors were always there to support and encourage me, I’m so grateful for that. Primary source analysis skills have been really valuable in my role as we are putting information out to the public so it has to be right!
ANDREW GWYNNE, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR DENTON AND REDDISH AND LABOUR’S SHADOW PUBLIC HEALTH MINISTER, CLASS OF 1998
I studied Politics and Contemporary History. I had grown up with a passion for history, and wanted to fuse this with my interest in politics. This course proved the perfect forum to do this, and I learned a huge amount which has benefitted me considerably during the course of my career in politics.
Contemporary History is all about what events in the 19th and 20th centuries contributed to the society that we live in today. Contemporary History is as rich as it is broad – it covers the First and Second World Wars, the creation of the BBC, universal suffrage, the birth of the National Health Service and much more. But to fully appreciate how these events shaped modern Britain, you need to understand the political impetus that contributed to their creation.
This was where the University of Salford excelled. I benefitted from fantastic lecturers who taught me to look at historical events in the round and trace political theory to political action. I was encouraged to be inquisitive, to challenge established arguments and to form my own.
In 1996, I became Britain’s youngest Councillor, and at 30 became the youngest Labour MP in the 2005 Parliament. This was a daunting and somewhat overwhelming experience, but I had several skills – instilled in me during my time at Salford – that I could draw upon and which would prove invaluable.
Salford taught me that policy decisions don’t happen in a vacuum. As a legislator, it’s vital that you have a full understanding of how political decisions will impact the communities you represent. If contemporary history teaches us anything, it’s that actions have knock-on consequences. While you can never prepare for every conceivable outcome, history encourages you to study the past and to learn from what has come before. In that way, you stand a chance of avoiding the mistakes of the past, and hopefully build a brighter future in the process. I am both proud and grateful to have spent three fun, engaging and enlightening years at Salford.
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We hope that you’re feeling inspired and have a better understanding of what it’s like to study a Politics and Contemporary History degree at the University of Salford. We’d recommend that you follow our subject Instagram and Twitter accounts, for the latest updates from the team.
If you still have questions, we want you to know that we’re only an email or phone call away. For specific questions relating to our Politics and Contemporary History courses, we’d recommend that you contact the Admission Lead, Dr. Ben Williams.
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