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MSc International Relations of the Americas
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Student Comments

James Hillyer, MA US Studies 2013-14 and current PhD candidate

James Hillyer

Studying for the MA in United States Studies on a part-time basis at the UCL Institute of the Americas was a challenging, enjoyable and rewarding experience. Coming straight out of undergraduate study, I found the step-up to MA level tough, especially because I had to find the correct balance between studying and working various jobs, but I quickly managed to find my feet and have no regrets about taking the course. The modules I took allowed me to deepen my knowledge of the United States and encouraged me to push myself academically. To my surprise, I developed a fascination for US economic policy and subsequently wrote my dissertation on the topic. Moreover, the tutors at the Institute were very approachable and took an interest in my development. Not only were they keen to encourage participation in the classroom as well as attendance at the rich programme of events (where I met and interacted with leading scholars of the United States), but they also offered me important advice about how I could maximise my performance, which boosted my grades and gave me the confidence to continue as a PhD student at the Institute. On the whole, I am very pleased with my decision to take the US Studies MA, and am delighted with the excellent facilities and support that I have been provided with for my PhD. I would, therefore, encourage anyone who is interested in the Americas to study at the Institute.

Gyumi Ahn, MSc Globalisation and Latin American Development, 2013-14

Gyumi Ahn

The experience of studying at the Institute has been inspiring and stimulating. During the lectures throughout the year, I have always found myself gaining numerous fresh insights from my classmates who were from many different parts of the world, with different academic and professional backgrounds. I was also very impressed by the way the faculty members encouraged us to articulate our opinions about historical and political issues dealt with in class, to relate them to current Latin American social phenomena, and to keep developing our rough and initial ideas into an elaborated statement and thesis. I appreciated, in particular, opportunities given to us to attend various seminars and talks, where each speaker presented us their current projects and shared their expertise and academic interests. Several of them were where I could begin developing ideas for my dissertation and could be aware of original and creative methods of doing research. During the last couple of months of the course, I found it highly fulfilling to carry out my own research visiting libraries and archives both in Buenos Aires and London. I could finally get my own work done thanks to the administrative staffs’ constant support and my supervisor’s valuable comments and feedback.

Himali Dave, MSc Latin American Politcs, 2012-14

Himali Dave

As one of the few institutions offering a holistic and interdisciplinary programme of courses, and with the option of part-time study, UCL-IA was a clear choice for me for engaging in postgraduate study of the Americas. But what I soon became aware of was what else the institute offered: access to diverse events, talks and conferences covering up-to-date research with top academics; being part of a nurturing and friendly department; and meeting like-minded people passionate about all things Latin American. I have found the opportunity to spend two-years studying at my own pace extremely rewarding; although working and interning alongside my studies has often amounted to a 7-day a week commitment, the institute staff have always been extremely helpful and understanding. I feel that I have emerged with transferable analytical and critical thinking skills, which I am certain will prove incredibly valuable for me in the future.

Robbie Macrory, PhD student, Latin American Politics 

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Studying at the Institute has been an extremely fulfilling experience for several different reasons, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time spent here working towards my doctorate. Although the Institute is small enough to have a strong sense of community, it also feels fully incorporated into the wider life of the university with all the advantages that entails, including events, skills courses and a lively atmosphere. The knowledge and expertise of the faculty members at the Institute is always impressive, and the support offered by the administrative staff has been invaluable in helping me progress with my studies. Perhaps the best thing of all for me is the Institute’s location in the heart of London. It’s been a great help for my work to be within walking distance of several world-class libraries, but I’ve also enjoyed being able to attend events at think-tanks and embassies, for example, which might not have been so easy had I been studying elsewhere.

Melanie Stern, MA Latin American Studies, 2012-13

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I have found that I can easily see where my hard-earned cash is being spent - and well spent - as I am surrounded by vast resources, from excellent libraries and lots of places to use study computers all over campus, to the breadth of knowledge my tutors share with me, and their encouragement of deep inquiry. This means the environment I have found as a student at UCL Americas is so far very conducive to immersing myself in the field, and being able to bounce ideas off the staff as I develop my own critical theses. In addition, there are regular talks and events, available to the public as well as students and for free, giving us contact with fresh thinking, new studies, leading commentators and new conversations on the field we're studying. This means the knowledge I'm taking in about the past is being based in the context of what's happening in real life, today.

John Gallagher, MA Latin American Studies, 2012-13

John Gallagher

After completing my undergraduate degree in Dublin, I decided to progress directly to postgraduate study by undertaking the MA at the Institute of Americas, UCL. The prospect of living in London was not the only thing that enticed me. I was also attracted by the multi-disciplinary nature of the course and the accessibility of the teaching staff, who are always at hand to discuss research interests and extend learning outside of the classroom.  At UCL, I found a Masters that allowed me to focus on the Latin American History and Politics, without neglecting more practical fields of study such as Advanced Spanish Translation. My experience at the Institute of the Americas has been nothing but positive, I am sure it will stand to me in the future.


For more students describing their experiences studying at the Institute, view our videos