Steven, MPhil International Relations

Steven, MPhil International Relations

Thirty years to the week after commencing my undergraduate degree in my home city of Glasgow, I arrived at Trinity Hall as the oldest graduate student in the MCR. Trinity Hall, located in the heart of old Cambridge, is a stunning institution surrounded by beauty. The graduate year is short, but as Trinity Hall is the smallest of all the traditional colleges it is an easier place to get to know people and make friends. From a cooked breakfast before class, a lunchtime read of the daily papers, to enjoying evening socials and thought-provoking talks, Trinity Hall was the centre of my year at Cambridge. As a graduate student I was able to bring some subject expertise and life experience to the table, whether it be to the weekly Grad Hall or to a tutorial setting.

From a cooked breakfast before class, a lunchtime read of the daily papers, to enjoying evening socials and thought-provoking talks, Trinity Hall was the centre of my year at Cambridge.”

Regardless of how old you are, undertaking graduate studies at the University of Cambridge will change your life for the better. As a serving RAF officer, my year of study, research and thinking enabled me to be selected for my current position as the Air and Naval Attaché in the British Embassy in Beijing. My studies focused on China. The taught part of the course covered both sides of a debate on international affairs, which allowed me to reach an informed viewpoint. This is especially useful in China, where academic discourse to foreigners inevitably follows the Party line. Moreover, it also empowered me to consider the world not just from a western viewpoint. The supervisor of my 25,000 word research dissertation on ‘Deterrence Theory and the Taiwan Strait’ was superb. I quickly learned (after it was pointed out to me in no uncertain terms) that every paragraph in my paper needed to support my argument, not merely add interest. It is said that education is wasted on the young. I cannot remember if that was true in my case, but I am sure it was not wasted on me now.

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