Student profile: Cameron Westwood
Throughout my undergraduate degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at the University of Bath, I specialised in European history and politics, particularly post-communist East-Central Europe. Whilst this gave me a broad understanding of the key themes in twentieth-century Europe, I decided to undertake the MPhil at Oxford to gain greater depth of knowledge in how politics works in the European context, both at the European Union, and member-state level. Moreover, I was attracted by the strong research methods training offered by the Department. This training has not only proven invaluable in working through my research design and gaining the skills needed to undertake statistical data analysis, but has provided an interesting perspective on how and why we pursue social science research. My thesis concerns feelings of European identity in ethnic minority groups and I continue to work closely with my supervisor on this, having taken an initial idea about identity to a full research design. However a supervisor is there for more than just academic needs; she has been a continued source of support for pastoral care and a first port of call for any queries.
The MPhil in European Politics and Society offers a wide range of second-year courses and I have taken advantage of this in choosing my electives. Complementing the strong grounding in the major themes in European politics provided in the core course European Governance, I have opted for courses in Nations and Nationalism in Global Perspective and Issues in Contemporary Continental European Social and Political Thought. The more theoretical basis of these courses offers a new challenge and an exciting insight into how different schools of thought influence how we approach the study of politics today.
Alongside my studies I have had chance to work with St Antony’s International Review, a student-run, peer-reviewed journal, as Co-Chief Copy-Editor. This has offered a fascinating insight into the production of academic journals and an opportunity to become familiar with interesting new research on areas outside my main area of study. However, by far the best part of the Oxford experience is the college system. As a member of a large graduate-only college situated just outside of town, I feel part of a strong, friendly and relaxed community where everybody has their chance to get involved. This year with a group of friends I put together a nineties cheese-themed dance which was a great success and a huge learning experience. Most importantly though, college offers a place to meet many diverse and interesting people who are all passionate about their area of study.
Upon completing my MPhil at Oxford, I hope to take the knowledge and skills gained into the workplace, preferably with the Government civil service, or in some political advisory role.