Student profile
Bethany Bale politics student

Bethany Bale

"I really enjoy the fact that unlike lots of politics courses, we always study really contemporary things. Even in first year when it was more theory/history based to give everyone a base understanding, you would always be encouraged to think about why certain topics are relevant and matter today."  

Entry year
2017

Choosing Surrey

One thing that stood out to me most about Surrey was how much support was available for students. As someone who lives with several disabilities and chronic illnesses, having 24/7 security and a great Disability and Neurodiversity team was definitely one of the biggest factors that made me want to come to Surrey. When I spoke to Disability and Neurodiversity, they were the first University support service I’d come across that clearly understood what support I’d need, and were really passionate about making sure I’d have the best University experience.

My course

As a disabled woman from a working-class background, there’s something incredibly empowering about understanding the systems that so often oppress people from marginalised groups – and learning how to tackle issues of inequality, especially for those who feel less able to tackle them themselves. Politics touches every part of life, so the more you understand about how it works – and who it traditionally works to benefit – the more you can challenge it and better understand the world we live in.

I chose to study the Politics BSc course at Surrey because it looked incredibly interesting! I was already studying it at A-level, so I knew that I enjoyed it, and I’ve always been very passionate about the subject. I really enjoy the fact that unlike lots of politics courses, we always study really contemporary things. Even in first year when it was more theory/history based to give everyone a base understanding, you would always be encouraged to think about why certain topics are relevant and matter today.  

I love the freedom that we get with our course – especially in second and third year. We often get really interesting assignments where we can pretty much go wild (within reason – although I did once write an essay on Love Island voting behaviour and direct democracy). I think the fact that we’re often able to focus on the things we’re most interested in means that we get better grades, because we enjoy it more.

"I also love that the Department of Politics is so small. We’re a proper community, both staff and students, and our lecturers are always there to support us – both academically and emotionally. You never feel like you’re dealing with anything on your own."

All of our lecturers are doing current and interesting research, and they’ll often bring that into the classroom. We’re also often taught in very new and engaging ways, from Security Council simulations, to debates and mock Question Times, planning campaigns with fake monopoly money, and attempting to be a spin doctor with fake election night coverage live on Twitter.

Student life

I’ve taken part in various society activities – including the Politics Society, Labour Society and FemSoc. Very often our department will work with these societies to put on great events. I’ve met lots of great friends through societies.

Living on campus is great in my opinion as it makes life so much easier! Everything is close by, including your lectures, the GP, the Library etc. This year has been incredibly helpful too, as Disability and Neurodiversity have supported me with accommodation where I can safely shield during lockdown as I’m vulnerable – not having to worry about that has been a massive weight off my shoulders this year.

There’s always lots of great social events too, even this year Surrey was one of the only universities that still had in-person freshers’ events – and they managed to keep things safe.

My career and development

Surrey has had a real positive impact on my employability. Not only because it’s given me a degree, but also lots of life skills and a greater knowledge of my subject. Having the opportunity to do a 10-month placement has definitely improved my employability, as has all of the skills and experience I gained on placement. My department have also been invaluable in providing me with opportunities to network and grow my non-profit – I’m sure if it wasn’t for their support I would not have been able to grow it to the extent that I have at university. I’ve also had the opportunity to work closely with University Management on improving accessibility and inclusion at Surrey – which has also improved my employability.

The future

I am a completely different person now compared to when I left school and started at Surrey. My experience here has taught me so many things, from independent living and academia, to how to advocate for myself in the workplace and have faith in what I’m capable of. A huge part of that is down to the amazing lecturers in my department and all of their support over the past three years.

I’m not certain what my plans will be after graduation. But I’m hoping that I’ll be able to continue to work on the non-profit that I co-founded during my time at University. Pandemic and economic crisis depending, I’m planning on prioritising that – we’ll see where it goes! I’d definitely be interested in postgraduate study, but I don’t think that will be my priority straight away.

 

Discover more about our undergraduate politics courses, including our Politics BSc (Hons).

Related profiles

Michael Slade

Student

Micheal Slade

International Relations MSc

Zoe Drapper

Student

Zoe Drapper

Politics BSc (Hons)