James Harman

James Harman

BA Politics and Sociology with Applied Data Analysis, 2016

What did you enjoy about your degree programme?

I loved the interdisciplinary nature of social sciences at Exeter; I have been able to study modules encompassing history, philosophy, economics and international relations, in addition to my core disciplines. It has been wonderful to witness in real-time how relevant my studies have been to UK and world affairs - it was a privilege to study politics during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the 2015 general election and the 2016 EU referendum!

I think my favourite part of my degree is my proficiency in applied data analysis, offered by the University’s newly-established Q-Step Centre for quantitative methods training. This has been an amazing opportunity to learn and practice applied, useful social science, through quantitative modules, various skills workshops, hands-on applied research projects and even a data analysis summer school, funded partially by the Centre! It is a brilliant addition to social sciences at Exeter.

Tell us about the Exeter Award. What does this award mean to you?

I love the Exeter Award. A degree on its own is no longer enough to stand out, and the Exeter award certifies all the other things that I have been doing during my three years here. It’s more than a qualification, it’s a story of how my career has been assembled. Every careers event, every skills workshop, and every one of my 1,000 hours of term-time volunteering, is included. It’s a living, flexible way to gain official recognition of the many things that all students do beyond their studies.

As a criticism, it’s a great shame that the specific components of the Exeter Award are not listed, either on the award certificate or on the Higher Education Achievement Report. My Exeter Award, like all Exeter Awards, is a unique blueprint, unlike any other one that any other student has received. It would be nice for this to be recognised in the award itself and not just on the Career Zone website.

What has been the highlight of your time at Exeter?

My graduation, hopefully! But out of everything that has taken place so far, three things stand out: getting involved with staff and other students in raising money for charity in the YMCA SleepEasy, a sponsored 28-mile trek across Dartmoor, and a sponsored Prayerthon; doing applied data research projects with the University’s Q-Step Centre, including researching the 2015 local elections and (currently) the 2016 EU referendum; and all-nighters with my best friend studying at the top of the Physics Building, which has the very best views in Exeter!

What will you miss the most about university?

I’m going to another university in October, so I won’t be deprived of the academic life just yet! But specific to Exeter I’ll miss the beautiful, laid-back city environment, the gorgeous countryside, the first-class services offered by the Students’ Guild and Career Zone, and all the wonderful people I have met through my studies, through church and choir membership, and through volunteering.

What advice would you give to current and future students?

Do loads of stuff! Students have a reputation in the outside world for being a bit lazy. Don’t be. University is not a great opportunity to go partying every night. It’s a great opportunity to join lots of different societies, volunteer, raise money for charity, explore different religions and ways of life, win awards, engage in political debates and campaigns, and above all, to learn.

It’s the one and only chance that many of us will get, before being dragged into the whirlwind of full-time work, to fully reflect on our lives - what they mean, and what we want to achieve with them. It is a precious window of time, and one which must not be wasted.

What are your plans now that you have graduated?

I’ll be doing an MSc in Social Research Methods at the University of Surrey, then joining the UK Civil Service Fast Stream as a Government Social Researcher - so my social science experience will not be wasted. In my spare time I plan to write books and serve the international Christian Church. It’s all very exciting, a great adventure, and my time at Exeter - degree, Exeter Award and everything else - has made it possible. Long may it continue!