UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies


Dr Helene Bartos

snapshot of Helene Bartos outdoors
BA, MA, & PhD Hebrew and Jewish Studies

PR & Communications Manager

Why did you choose Hebrew and Jewish Studies?

I’ve always had a love and passion for history and I’ve heard about the excellent teaching offered by the Hebrew & Jewish Studies staff through family friends. When I went for the interview with the then Head of Department, Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert; met the wonderful teaching staff and had a tour of the University, I was completely sold. Entry requirements were still high requiring an Abitur of 1.7, but in a way that only spurred me on to do well in my school exams and be accepted onto the degree. The BA Jewish History was one of the best things I’ve done in my life, and it was in great part thanks to the continuous support and family atmosphere that made my studies at HJS so special, and had me go for the PhD at the Department before going into a commercial career.

What stands out about your time in the Department?

The Department involves you in many activities throughout the year and encourages you to do well.

There are endless, fond memories of my time at the Department, but some of the things I would like to call out in particular: I was given a huge opportunity to develop, both in my skills and as a person. The Department involves you in many activities throughout the year and encourages you to do well. I fondly remember taking charge of the departmental newsletter as a BA student, but also later during my PhD studies at the Department being able to teach some of the insights I gained through my PhD research to BA and Masters students from various London universities. In terms of highlights, the Year Abroad at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem was the unforgettable; I made many friends and I learnt a lot about Israel and the Middle East. Most importantly, however, I should say that I always felt loved and appreciated as staff went out of their way to make sure I was ok, which goes in particular for the time when I had a family bereavement during the time of my BA studies.

Where do you work? What do you do?

After my PhD I went into a career in public relations, where I worked both in-house and in agencies for some big global brands, such as Microsoft, Ocado, and Virgin Media Business. I started off on a slightly unusual route, having first worked for a couple of months for a global PR agencies in Munich before transitioning to their London office, which shows that no route to work is out of the possible. Being flexible is such an important skill for employers these days, so in a way the degree with the Year Abroad option and then my PhD research in many different countries in Europe and overseas was the perfect preparation for the world of work. I am now transitioning into a career in politics, having just accepted a job offer at a large government department.

How did HJS prepare you for your career?

There are so many skills I took away from my studies, however, one of the key things employers will be keen to see from their employees is the ability to make good decisions and use critical judgement on the basis of evidence to reach the best outcome. In PR terms, this means using not just your creativity, but also your common sense to understand what works for the client/employer and what doesn’t. So, when you do your essays as part of the coursework and research different theories/approaches, you’ll be asked not just to work independently, but also to make sound decisions based on the readings you’ve been assigned. It’s a critical level up from the school exam prep where information was given to you- towards this liberating stage where you are encouraged to find out and discover for yourself!

What would you say to students thinking of joining the Department?

One thing I can promise: you won’t get bored. Dive in and have fun!

Allow yourself to get immersed in both your studies and everything else that’s going on around your studies. There are so many clubs and societies you can get involved in through the Student Union and UCL, and just being in London is a whirlpool of opportunity. One thing I can promise: you won’t get bored. Dive in and have fun!