About you

Why did you choose to study at Queen Margaret University (QMU)?

I choose to study at QMU because it was close to home and given Edinburgh is a beautiful city, I wanted to be able to study somewhere that I wouldn’t have to move out and could offer me a study life close to the city. In applying I also took into account that Queen Margaret University had a lot of services to assist students in their learning and also lots of social extra-curricular activities to take part in whilst studying.

What interested you about Public Sociology?

I have always had an interest in philosophical and non-fiction literature and when looking to apply for courses these interests came to the forefront of my preferences. I believed Public Sociology would offer me a venue to expand upon my literature-based interests and learn how to apply them within an academic and vocational field. I also believe the course encouraged people who wanted to make a change in the world to apply and this interested me.

Why attracted you to study in Edinburgh?

I had recently moved closer to Edinburgh before applying and did not want to move out, I wanted to explore what Edinburgh had to offer as a city and to continue to live somewhere with a rich cultural history and present.

The Course

What have you most enjoyed about your course? What has been the highlight?

I have enjoyed most being challenged to adopt a critical lens to societal issues and components, giving me the freedom to explore deconstructing the ideological frameworks that implicitly work within our societies. Furthermore, I have enjoyed Public Sociology’s quality to be applied in everyday aspects of life, whether it be analysis of gender, labour, political movements, environmental concerns, etc. This is a course that has affected my outlook on the world in a very positive and enlightening way.

Have you participated in a course activity you found especially interesting?

In particular I always took interest in the seminar portion of classes we have for each course: essentially the class all sits in a room together to discuss reading material pertinent to that week of teaching. I always learnt a lot from listening to what other students in my class had to offer regarding the reading, and it always led to constructive and positive discussions that then broadened everybody’s understanding of the course material for that week. Aside from this, it was always positive to learn in an environment where discussion amongst other class members was encouraged and we could challenge one another to build in-depth understandings of course material that weren’t solely prescribed to us: it encouraged me to take confidence in my own views of the material.

How have your lecturers supported your learning?

The lecturers I have been taught by have always been immensely supportive, whether in the form of further explaining an idea; in responding to queries about course work or assignments; taking time to discuss how you are finding the course; mentoring your academic voice through tips and help with assignment feedback. The lecturers are a key component to the enjoyment of this course and help to create a positive environment for critical and constructive learning. 

What have been some of your challenges with the course and university life? How have you overcome them?

Maintaining a balance between working and university life presented some challenges, in particular because I was working a nightshift job the last year and a half. Quite often the way I overcame this was by managing my time in a way that allowed me to finish the assigned course work for the week in the first few days of the week (i.e., If I was working Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday night, I would aim to complete my coursework from Saturday-Monday) The key for me was giving myself enough time and trying as best as I could not to rush through material in order to get it done, but schedule time in the week to be able to savour the readings and course work.

Do you have any advice for students who might be interested in applying for this course?

If you have a keen interest in how cultural norms function, or do not function, or an interest in the stories of people’s lived experiences of society, Public Sociology is a course that will focus these interests and give you a space to channel them into everyday life through writing about what matters to large groups of people. The course will definitely give a grander sense of purpose to any interests related to the functioning of society.

The Student Experience

Have you been a part of any extracurricular programmes (e.g. mentoring or volunteering) during your time as a student at QMU? If so, how has it helped you develop skills and experience?

Last year, I was accepted to take part in an exchange program with the university to do a semester of my course at Acadia University in Canada. I am currently on the exchange now and it has helped me to attain a different perspective on my course material, looking at it from a different cultural lens.

What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?

Attend everything you possibly can. This means all lectures, seminars, extra-curricular activities, exchange opportunities, research projects and more. The three/four years will absolutely fly by, so trying to savour as much of it as possible before finishing your degree is the best advice I could give. Queen Margaret University and the Public Sociology course have a lot to offer, so take every opportunity you can.


"The lecturers are a key component to the enjoyment of this course and help to create a positive environment for critical and constructive learning."
Nathan Collins

[Story published in 2022]