During his time as a history student, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet politicians, journalists and the Secretary to the Cabinet.
These eminent speakers came in to lead seminars in the Cabinet and Premiership module. This gave Ashley first-hand experience of engaging with the professional world.
Ashley’s degree has also helped him to develop his spoken and written skills through presentations in seminars and writing essays.
Learning how to construct logical and concise arguments helped Ashley use all the available evidence in the most effective way.
Ashley curricular transcript:
What the top attributes you’ve developed in your degree programme?
Connect information and ideas within my field of study:
As our degree culminates in a historical research dissertation, I was able to bring in aspects from different areas of the course that I’d learned, to connect different ideas and a lot of information I’ve learned throughout my three years at Queen Mary, and try and include them all in relevant ways in my final body of work.
Explain and argue clearly and concisely:
Through written communication and spoken communication – be it in seminars, through essays or longer pieces of work, one of the things that I’ve tried to focus on is to be able to explain my ideas clearly, in logical and concise ways, so the information that you are using is used in the most effective way.
Acquire substantial bodies of new knowledge:
I think given the nature of a history degree, there’s such a wide variety of things that you study, just through reading far more widely, whether it’s specifically topic-based or whether it’s theoretical and methodological, almost everything I chose to do, course-wise and module-choice wise, was something new to me.
What are the top attributes you’ve developed in a chosen module?
Use technologies to access and interpret information effectively:
During my Cabinet and Premiership module, which looks at the study of British government since 1945, I often used online resources and archives to look at speeches, cabinet minutes and various primary documents. It was far easier than the travel involved so technology made that a lot easier to access the information I needed more readily.
Engage with the professional world:
We were fortunate enough to meet with civil service professionals – we went to meet Sir Gus O’Donnell, who was Cabinet Secretary at the time, various politicians and journalists, and some even came in to take lectures and hold seminar groups. I think it was a really good and quite exciting way to engage with the professional world, and to talk about contemporary history.
Critically evaluate the reliability of different sources of information:
Given the nature of the module as a contemporary History course, a lot of the material comes from newspapers and journalist sources – other materials include speeches or cabinet meetings. Being able to compare and contrast them and evaluate which ones are more useful, whether it’s useful even though it’s pretty unreliable; it’s a good way to develop that attribute.