UCL News


Seven Questions with... Rory Springbett

19 February 2021

This week we meet UCL alumnus Rory Springbett. Rory, who splits his time between London and Cornwall, was recently awarded the Best Dissertation Prize for his paper on Aid for Trade, which he chats to us about here.

Rory Springbett

What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

I recently finished studying for an MSc in International Public Policy from the UCL School of Public Policy. The public sector has always been close to my heart and I knew that I wanted to focus my research on public policy with an international perspective. The IPP programme gives students a detailed understanding of international institutions and processes and provides the platform to pursue specific interests within the dissertation project. The department’s professors are experts in their field, and it was great to have their support throughout my time at UCL. I recently won the departmental prize for best Master's dissertation, which would not have been possible without the guidance of my professors.

Having left London at the start of the pandemic, I am looking forward to returning this year to begin a new chapter working in the professional services industry. I am sure that many of the skills I learnt at UCL, including data handling and analysis, will stand me in good stead.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

As a global institution in the heart of London, UCL is an exclusive hub for academics and practitioners alike. The university organises regular events with highly regarded and inspiring speakers. In my first semester, I attended a talk with a senior figure from the World Trade Organisation, who spoke in depth about some of the organisation’s main priorities. The event was hosted by the School of Public Policy, and it was great to see our professors engaging with industry professionals in an open dialogue.

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?

The XInt Café in the Psychology building on Bedford Way is a fantastic lesser-known spot in Bloomsbury. It has great value food and drink and exceptionally friendly staff. It is a great location for socialising or working and I would recommend it to anyone.

Another of my favourite spots is a restaurant called Pizza Sophia in Bloomsbury. They have a varied offering of pizzas, whether you like Italian or American style. It is the perfect place for any occasion.

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:

  1. The best way to experience London is on foot. A favourite route of mine is from the Houses of Parliament and across to the Southbank, where the balcony of the National Theatre offers amazing views of the Thames. From there, you can follow the river to the Tate Modern and cross over to St Paul’s Cathedral and beyond.
  2. Another of my favourite things to do in London is to spend time in the many inner-city parks. These are great places to spend time with friends, exercise, or simply get some fresh air in an open space. My favourite is rather typical – Clapham Common.
  3. Visit the UK Foreign Office building on King Charles Street. Durbar Court is a spectacular setting and a must see for anyone interested in history, society, or architecture.

What’s one thing you’d like to see in a post-Covid world?

The School of Public Policy encourages us to think about the big-picture, so I am inclined to consider international trends. Mostly, I hope to see a refocusing of what is considered important to a globalised society. The key will not be to retreat from one another, but to firm up existing dependencies, while adapting them to be greener, more equitable, and transparent.

Who inspires you and why?

I am inspired by those people who maintain their integrity and moral code, even when the tide of opinion turns against them. One example is the British politician Rory Stewart, who as well as having extensive diplomatic and international third-sector experience, stood up for what he believed to be the best interests of the UK in the face of great pressure from within parliament. He is also the author of the great travel narrative The Places in Between.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I am a huge NFL fan and I follow the league closely. I also played on the American Football team at my undergraduate university.