MSc Diplomacy & International SecurityMhairi McClafferty, UK

What inspired you to study Diplomacy and International Security (MSc)?
I heard about the MSc Diplomacy and International Security course whilst completing my undergraduate studies at the University of Strathclyde. I was particularly fascinated by the wide variety of topics on offer, and the course was a perfect fit as I have always been interested in historical and contemporary international peace and security issues.

What do you enjoy most about your course?
I particularly enjoyed the multi-disciplinary nature of the course. After completing my undergraduate degree in History, I was eager to continue with modules within this field, but I was also interested in exploring subjects outside of my undergraduate studies. My favourite part of the course was that it brought together individuals from various academic backgrounds. I enjoyed meeting like-minded individuals, participating in engaging discussions, and learning about different perspectives.

What specialist knowledge/professional skills have you developed whilst studying the course?
I developed many vital skills whilst studying this course. I greatly benefited from assignments involving presentations. In my undergraduate studies, I did not have to prepare many presentations. Due to this, I had little experience speaking in front of large groups. As a result of presenting more frequently in this course, I have significantly improved my public speaking abilities. Additionally, I was a Programme Representative for MSc Diplomacy and International Security. In this role, I acquired various practical skills, such as gathering feedback, communication and organisation skills, and learned how to build collaborative working relationships, gaining the trust and confidence of my peers.

What do you think of the support available?
The support available during this course was tremendous. The course leader went above and beyond by having frequent check-ins through coffee and catch-up sessions. Additionally, lecturers made seminars an engaging and enjoyable experience by using various web-based tools to promote interactive learning. The HaSS Department was also incredibly supportive as we adjusted to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department responded quickly to any problems and ensured that all course materials were easy to access electronically.

What advice would you give to a prospective student coming to study your course?
The best advice I could offer prospective students is to get out of their comfort zone. Studying modules in a subject area in which you have no prior experience can be nerve-wracking. If it is a topic that interests you and you want to explore, however, I recommend pursuing it. I was especially interested in International Human Rights Law. Coming from a background in History, however, I did not know what to expect from the Law module concerning the classes, assignments and referencing style. Despite my hesitations, I persevered with the module, and it became one of my favourite subjects. Additionally, I was able to transfer the knowledge and skills I gained in International Human Rights Law to other elements of the course.

How has the MSc in Diplomacy and International Security helped you achieve your goals?
Upon completing my MSc in Diplomacy and International Security, I wanted to pursue a career in international peace and security. After finishing my degree, I began an internship with UN House Scotland, a grassroots organisation dedicated to supporting the implementation of the goals and values of the United Nations, where I worked as part of the Nuclear Disarmament and Human Rights projects. Whilst interning at UN House Scotland, I contributed to organising roundtables, writing reports and presenting at various events. I also conducted extensive research for a working paper which analysed the gendered impacts of nuclear weapons and women’s representation in nuclear diplomacy. Additionally, I was selected to represent the UN House Scotland in Vienna at the First Meeting of States Parties to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The research, organisational, communication, and time management skills and knowledge I gained whilst studying MSc Diplomacy and International Security were instrumental in helping me succeed whilst carrying out my internship at UN House Scotland. I have also been able to use these skills in my current role as Policy Intern on the Programme on Nuclear Responsibilities at BASIC (British American Security Information Centre). In the future, I aim to continue to develop my career within the international peace and security sector, particularly by engaging in research and policy work. I gained valuable skills and insights whilst studying MSc Diplomacy and International Security, which enabled me to enter a field that I am passionate about. Moreover, the experience I gained from this course will continue to assist with my career advancement.