International Relations Postgraduate Personal Statement
Through studying and carrying out research on migration at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), I discovered that addressing the root of hostility towards migrants requires understanding and challenging deep-seated notions of nationalism, racism, socio-economic prejudice and cultural discrimination on an institutional andpersonal level. Rising to the challenge of being able to have a positive influence in the face of such attitudes requires not simply helping individual migrants but also academically engaging with migration and the questions associated with it. I have enjoyed undertaking this engagement through writing and researching my undergraduate dissertation. I have chosen to focus my dissertation research on SDS because I believe for organizations to avoid the pitfalls of problematic paradigms in their rhetoric and foundations an accessible academic grounding is helpful. So far I have combined my commitment to social change withmy desire for intellectual stimulation, and I want my academic work to continue along this path. To achieve this aim I hope to improve and broaden myresearch skills; with its explicit focus on research, I view this Master’s programme as the ideal opportunity to do this.
The grounding in critical theoretical thought that the course offers complements perfectly its emphasis on examining the daily reality of migrant life through itsconnected research centres, with these two areas in conjunction with one another offering the necessary skills, knowledge and confidence to produce qualitative researchon matters of migration. I believe the course is also perfectly suited to the type of research that I wish to complete, namely work that in addition to being theoretically relevantand academically engaging is accessible and offers practical applications such as forming the basis of government policy, development initiatives and social movements -
The course additionally appeals to me as it places a practical emphasis on formulating solutions to migration-related issues. This approach is strongly suited to my preferred method of working, and also conforms to my belief that key to changing mindsets and affecting policy is offering viable, realistic alternatives. I have put this philosophy into practice through spearheading a conference on immigration detention. I am bringing together solicitors, academics, actors within civilsociety and ex-detainees to collectively discuss alternatives to detention. I believe that the Masters will offer me the broad-based knowledgeand in-depth understanding of context to continue to develop initiatives of this sort, in the process contributing to the development of policy proposals.
The understanding of local contexts and dynamics comes through the anthropological aspects of the Masters, whilstthe meta-perspective will come through the Development elements. This broader perspective encourages lookingbeyond one’s own context for inspiration, solutions, solidarity and knowledge. This desire to gain a multi-contextual perspective lay behind my decision to spend my summer inSouth Africa working for a refugee advocacy organization called ‘Passop’. There I was shocked by treatment of migrants that I witnessed, yet these are also points upon which collective international action can be formed anddeveloped and I know that this is where my role lies. Furthermore, working with the Post-Deportation Monitoring Network of Fahamu Social Network for Justice gave me a greatinsight into deportations and the protocol that surrounds them. Deportations are an inherently global phenomenon and therefore there should be a global force combating them.
The diverse international body of highly motivated students that your university attracts also appeals to me as it offers great potential for students to learn from one another’s personal and professional experiences as we develop our own skills and experience. The meeting of likeminded researchers from across the globe will also offer the foundation for future research networks, organizations, projects and campaigns to be constructed.
This interdisciplinary knowledge base, rigorous research methods, and chance to build an international networkby partaking in this course means I could better ensure migrants face a humane future. My clarity ofpurpose for studying this particular Masters is such that the prospect of dedicating all my time, energy and passion toit thrills me. As a result of abundant and specific experience in this field, I know that this is the career for me and I lookforward to the challengesof this career path as well as the chance that it offers to improve the lives of others.
Hopefully this International Relations Postgraduate personal statement example will be a helpful guide to students currently applying to university.