Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Roisin O’Byrne

| 2013 - 2017

Photo of Roisin O’Byrne

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I’m from Brighton, and I am currently in my fourth and final year at Leeds. I took a year out before university after I won the Lord Cohen Award at my college for a piece of travel writing that I did, so I put this bursary towards travelling around Asia and Australia, and I felt I was much more motivated to start university as a result.

What motivated you to apply to study your chosen course and why did you chose Leeds?

I studied Geography and Sociology at A-level and I found it hard to decide which one I wished to pursue at a degree level as I enjoyed different aspects of each subject. The University of Leeds was one of the only places in the UK which allowed me to study both as a joint honours course. I also valued the fact that Leeds was a research-driven institution part of the Russell Group which had a scenic campus located near to the city centre. 

What do you think of your course, have there been any particular highlights for you?

There is quite a lot of crossover between the two subjects, so I have enjoyed learning about current issues in society from a range of perspectives. This has also meant that I have developed a really wide range of independent research skills, and I felt I had even more choice when it came to selecting modules and dissertation topics. A highlight of my course has been completing geography fieldwork assignments in Belgrade in Serbia, and Miami.

How would you describe the help and guidance provided by the staff within the School?

The staffs are knowledgeable and passionate about what they teach, and they offer help and advice in the seminars. I have visited teaching staff during their ‘Open Door’ times to get 1-to-1 feedback and advice about assignments, which I found was useful and allowed me to improve my writing style and strengthen my ability to construct an argument.

How would you describe the facilities at the University?

Even since I started at Leeds, there has been a huge amount of investment into the campus, so most areas and teaches spaces now feel modern. Even simple changes like having plug sockets on every desk in the library makes it much easier to study if I bring my own laptop in, and the new Laidlaw Library has been a great addition to the campus. One of the best things about having one large campus is that everything you need is close by, including The Edge gym and swimming pool.

Since starting at the university have you been granted any scholarships, or won any awards for example?

I successfully ran an electoral campaign to be President of my Halls of Residence (Lupton) in my first year at university. My contribution to this role was recognized at the Hall Exec Awards, where I won the Outstanding Leadership Award, as well as Best Team for the sub-team of Hall Exec which I led. 

Have you had the opportunity to study abroad, or complete a year in industry? If so, please tell us about your experience.

I completed a 12-month Industrial Placement at Rayburn Tours, which is a company which organizes group trips abroad. I was based in the Education department, so I organised school trips, which were co-incidentally mainly geography trips to destinations like Iceland or Italy. I also accompanied a school on their ski trip to Andorra as their Trip Leader, and as the only staff representative from Rayburn Tours in the resort at the time, I was faced with a huge amount of responsibility and trust. However, I found the challenge of working in an unfamiliar environment in a customer-facing role very rewarding, and I am considering working abroad after university as a result of that experience.

Upon returning to university, I completed a 20 credit module reflecting on my experiences in the workplace. This allowed me to understand how my experiences and skills gained in the workplace could be applied to my academic studies.

Have you been involved in extra-curricular activities, such as societies, summer placements etc?

I joined the RAG society (Raise and Give) and as part of that I completed the Manchester Marathon in 2014, and worked at the Leeds Rag Fashion Show. I was also a member of Snowriders, and went on one of the annual Easter ski trips to the French Alps, which was one of my highlights of my time at university.

An advantage of being a joint honours student meant that I was able to join both the Geography and Sociology departmental societies. For SocSoc, I was the treasurer of the society for a year, and I played intra-mural netball for the department which allowed me to play sports without having to commit the time to train competitively. I have also worked as a Student Ambassador for the duration of my time at university, which involves working at open days or leading campus tours for prospective students.

Before I graduate, I am completing a three week summer course about the European Union at Humboldt University in Berlin.

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