History and Politics, 2nd Year

Josh Harwood

From: I am from a town called Wallasey on the Wirral. You’ve probably never heard of it but it’s only 20 minutes away from Liverpool on the ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’
School: St Mary’s Catholic College
‘My time at Queen’s so far has been the best two years of my life’.

Ask Josh a Question

Josh, why did you choose Queen’s?


I chose Queen’s University Belfast as I felt that it offered much more than any University that I had visited in England and Wales. They didn’t expect you to make the jump from secondary school to university straight away and used your first semester as an introduction to what academic life was like at Queen’s and what would be expected of you in the coming years. I also felt that both the History and Politics courses offered a bigger and broader range of subjects, that I had not seen at other universities.

I was also drawn to the fact that Queen’s is a campus university, but in a big city, many campus universities in England are often in the countryside or away from vibrant city life - at Queen’s the city is all around you.


Is Queen’s what you expected?

In some ways Queen’s is much better than I expected, there is always something going on in and around the Queen’s and with so many clubs and societies you are always busy! The courses and lectures have also exceeded my expectation with work being interesting and thought provoking, with much more support given than I originally thought.


How would you sum up your experience at Queen’s and living in Belfast?

To sum up my experience so far at Queen’s it has been the best two years of my life. I have made so many new friends here in Ireland and some as far as Spain and America. University work has had its high and low points, but overall has been a new challenge to get to grips with, giving me the skills to go forward into my career.


What do you think is different about going to Queen’s and living in Belfast compared to if you had gone to a university in England, Scotland or Wales?

One of the main differences for me is the fact that Queen’s is one of a handful of campus universities in a city - all of your lecturers are centred around the main Lanyon building, but you are only a short walk away from a vibrant city and new places to explore.

I think the main difference would be not having the same opportunities to be reading politics in a post conflict society, with lectures who are undertaking brand new research into areas of both history and politics that has never been looked at before. For me this was the first time I had ever been too Northern Ireland, so studying at Queen’s gave me the opportunity to explore a completely new place and even after living there for a year and a half I am still learning new things about the country and the people of Ireland.


Can you tell me a bit about travelling over from England to Queen’s?

I fly from Liverpool Airport to Belfast international with a flight time of 30 minutes, it takes two and half hours from leaving my house in Wallasey to arriving in Belfast city centre. Overall, a return trip with Easyjet costs me £40-45 a week or two before flying, if you book in advance it can be as low as £35.

If you’re feeling adventurous you could always travel down to Dublin where a return ticket with Ryanair can be as low as £10-15, factor in the £14 bus down to Dublin International Airport, I can get home for as cheap as £25, cheaper than the train down to London!!


Have you got involved in anything ‘different’ outside of your degree?

As well as doing my degree I am a part of the History, Politics, PBB and Photography societies within Queen’s, these meet on average once a week, and are a great way to get to know people who have similar interests to yourself. I have also done a French for Business course in my first year, and at the weekends I work part time at McDonald’s on the Boucher Road.


What about your degree, what is that like?

At Queen’s I read History and Politics, and I couldn’t have picked a more politically active place to study with history that goes back to the 1300. Because my degree is a joint degree I study 6 modules every year, three politics and three history, each semester you may have one or two compulsory modules, but most of the time you can choose from over 15 modules each semester on what you want to study.

My modules involve one or two lectures and then a tutorial every week. Tutorial are more relaxed than lectures, often involving less than 10 people, where you discuss the topic and readings that you have read the week before.


Can you tell me a bit about your accommodation since coming to Belfast?

In my first year I stayed in Queen’s Elms Student Accommodation, this was a fantastic way to meet new people who, like yourself, are mostly exploring Belfast and Queen’s for the very first time. It is a short 15 minute walk from the University and you don’t have to worry about electricity, gas and Wi-Fi bills. This year I live a short walk away from the University with friends that I made on my course. Despite Belfast being a big city, rent is cheaper than anywhere else in the UK, and moving out after living in University accommodation was much easier than I thought it was going to be.


What advice would you give anyone who may be thinking about coming to Queen’s?

My best advice would be, do not discredit Queen’s because you it may be a little further than other universities or because you must catch a plane to university. It is a fantastic university in vibrant city and country with all new exciting things to explore. So book you flight and come over and see why Queen’s will be for you! 

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