Student profile
Maresa Strano

Maresa Strano

"Surrey is known for its international staff and student population. Such a rich multicultural learning environment makes this programme ideal for someone looking to explore a wide range of perspectives on state, regional, and global politics."


International Relations MSc

"After completing my BS in economics at the University of Pittsburgh, I spent nearly four years working as a writer for an American politics website and living somewhat nomadically in Europe and the US. During this period, I visited a friend of mine who was doing a PhD at the Surrey Space Centre.

From the start, I was charmed by the dynamic, Tetris-style layout of the Surrey campus and impressed by its diverse student body. With every subsequent trip to Guildford, I felt more and more confident that when the time came to resume my education, it would be at the University of Surrey. 

I was drawn to the MSc international relations programme because it offered the chance to expand my interest in politics beyond the US-state level. Lo and behold, I began a postgraduate programme here last fall.

My passion for the field of politics is inseparable from my belief in the power of good storytelling. Those who may not consider themselves to be politically active or civic minded are still social beings; therefore they are susceptible to the narratives and norms that give shape and meaning to society. Whether it’s a leader telling us the story of why the government is behaving a certain way, or an average citizen invoking common themes of political storytelling, for example ‘rights’ - to justify a choice she made to herself, everyone is engaged somehow in the story that politics has told us. By studying political communication and the great orators, I get to feel more connected to others, and I get to feel inspired.  Also, the possibilities for applying political knowledge and research/analytical tools in the future seem endless.

Surrey is known for its international staff and student population. Such a rich multicultural learning environment makes this programme ideal for someone looking to explore a wide range of perspectives on state, regional, and global politics. I appreciate how the programme offers different pathways for students wishing to opt out of doing a regular dissertation in favor of an intensive work placement.  

Since I started at Surrey I think I have become more optimistic about the future of world politics. I think I have also become more humble. My classmates are remarkable people who bring a wide range of life experiences to the table and frequently demonstrate wisdom beyond their years.

To me, one of the highlights of this programme is the small class size. In politics seminars, differing viewpoints are welcomed and controversy is unavoidable. Controversy does not necessarily mean conflict, however. The constant interaction that occurs among peers in small classes creates an atmosphere where students can share ideas without fear of judgment or alienation. In contrast with larger, more anonymous academic settings, everybody gets their say and is held accountable for what they say in our tight-knit seminars, thus enabling healthy debates over even the most sensitive and provocative political issues to flourish.

The members of the academic staff are incredibly knowledgeable and experienced. The politics department staff goes above and to ensure that we are getting the appropriate balance of a traditional, theory-based education and the kind of practical, professional development and training needed to meet the demands of post-university life.

The Global Graduate Award (GGA) is a fantastic opportunity extended to postgraduate students wanting to learn a new foreign language or to hone their skills in one they have previously studied. I am so glad that I decided to take advantage of this opportunity. Switching gears every week from my regular coursework to foreign language study is not always easy, but it turns out to be fun and rewarding. 

As for the facilities, the Library is truly fantastic, and the Lakeside café is another favourite spot on campus for meeting up with colleagues and classmates. Access to the Surrey Sports Park is a luxury that I do not take for granted. Whenever people ask where I study, the automatic response to hearing “Surrey” is to rave about the Sports Park. It is the envy of all who live outside the area."


Discover more about our politics programmes, including our MSc International Relations.