MSc Diplomacy & International Security Kevin Mackay, UK

What inspired you to study Diplomacy and International Security (MSc)?
I was looking for a course which satisfied my holistic approach to academia whilst also offering a little bit of practical learning around negotiation strategy. DIS offered a lot of flexibility in terms of mixing various methodologies and allowed me the opportunity to learn from academics and practitioners with a variety of perspectives. On a personal level, I have a deep interest in how the history of international political orthodoxy has shaped discussions around climate change in recent decades – DIS seemed like the ideal place to begin investigating this.

What did you enjoy most about your course?
There were many challenges for the course convenors to overcome to deliver a satisfying learning experience during Covid. Many of the materials we gained access to were fascinating, and I found that the level of support available from the department and the wider university to be fantastic, even under the restricted conditions. I love writing, so despite the enormous challenge, I found researching and delivering my final dissertation to be the most rewarding thing I did – helped in no small part by having an excellent advisor!

What specialist knowledge/professional skills have you developed whilst studying the course?
Throughout my course, I chose modules which allowed me to gain a greater understanding of international organisations and their relationship to the politics of climate change as well as negotiation strategy. An MSc in this field is a heavy amount of work, so juggling this and working pretty much full-time through the pandemic certainly increased my ability to manage my own workload – something employers are always keen on! I also gained a lot of confidence speaking with authority on subjects I had only just read about or become aware of, raising my reading level and sharpening my research skills.

What do you think of the support available?
The support is first class. Our tutors endeavoured to treat the cohort as colleagues rather than students, which engendered easy communication and allowed strong professional relationships to develop between classmates and tutors. I also found the careers service at the university to be instrumental in building my job-seeking and interview skills. This level of support from the department and wider university helped motivate me to push myself to the best of my ability.

What advice would you give to a prospective student coming to study your course?
Be prepared to read a lot! If you find the workload challenging, be up front about it – there is support available. I found the first few weeks tough as I had a few years between graduating from undergraduate and going into MSc. However, I persevered and eventually my brain sped up enough to fully take in the complex ideas and methodologies being discussed. There is nothing wrong with misunderstanding something and requiring clarification – just make sure you come to class prepared!

How has the MSc Diplomacy and International Security helped you achieve your goals?
I now work as a Sustainability Coordinator for a large events company. Completing this MSc allowed me to make my passion for understanding the politics of climate change stand out on my CV. Furthermore, the increased research and negotiation skills were essential parts of my application. My MSc qualification combined neatly with my previous experiences in the event sector, and thus was instrumental in me getting the job I wanted.