Department of Political Science


Sarah Barclay

Meet Sarah, a current Security Studies Student, and find out more about her journey at UCL.

Sarah Barclay

Why did you apply to Political Science Department, UCL?
The program offers a variety of diverse modules, allowing you to tailor the degree to focus on what you want. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to apply to the Political Science Department at UCL. The program is also an MSc, which isn't typically offered in a degree like security studies, and I thought it would give me a more diverse range of skills. Lastly, I wanted to study at an institution that is very international and at the heart of a major city.

What were your first impressions of the department?
It is very intense! You have small assignments or projects and readings to do each week for your seminars. Deadlines also come more quickly than you might expect, so time management is key. The course is academically challenging and demanding, with something new to learn constantly!

What is the rest of your cohort like?
It’s a very diverse and international cohort! Everyone comes from different places, countries, and backgrounds, which adds even more to the programme!

What is the teaching and learning like?
We have 1-2 hours of lectures and an hour of seminar each week, accompanied by readings and small assignments. Additionally, there are office hours with the lecturers every week, which we can book if we have any questions. You are also getting taught by professionals in the field so it’s very motivating and you get to learn a lot from them! 

What do you like best about your course so far?
What I like about the course so far is the range of skills that I’m able to learn. For example, quantitative and qualitative analysis, which I believe are key skills to have, especially in this type of career field. The seminars are also very interactive, and you're always engaged in something new during them! Lastly, there are always talks and workshops happening in the department and at the University as a whole, so there is always something to do!

Would you recommend your programme to prospective students and why?
I would! The programme offers a wide range of courses that other institutions don’t offer and you can really specialize in what you are interested in. You are also studying in the heart of London surrounded by key companies, think tanks and NGOs! 

What are your career aspirations and how do you envisage your master’s helping with these?
I am really interested in getting into intelligence and geopolitical risk. I think this master’s will be extremely helpful in getting into fields as you learn practical skills such as quantitative and qualitative analysis and writing policy briefs and more analytical essays as part of the coursework. 

Where is your favorite study place on campus?
My favorite place to study would have to be the UCL main library. It’s a very aesthetic library which for me personally motivates me to work harder! (It also helps to know that a part of Inception was filmed in that library). 

Was there anything you wish you knew about the application process?
This may be obvious advice, but for me it was really showing that you're interested in the course. I think your enthusiasm about the programme as a whole can be easily shown through your personal statement. Every experience counts!

What advice would you give to overseas students wanting to study in the UK?
It’s definitely scary moving to a new country to study, but I would definitely recommend it! I think it’s a rare opportunity to study at an intellectually stimulating institution in one of the biggest cities in the world.